Title:
Two-headed walking stick
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A two-headed walking stick is provided that comprises a variety of cane tips which may be used interchangeably. The walking stick defines two heads, one on either end of the stick, both of which may accept any one of a variety of cane tips selected to provide support for a particular walking surface. The walking stick also defines a gripping surface that may employ longer-than-standard grips on both ends of the stick and a strap to accommodate securely holding the device.



Inventors:
Falit, Ronald (Plantsville, CT, US)
Application Number:
12/584676
Publication Date:
01/14/2010
Filing Date:
09/10/2009
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A45B9/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HAWK, NOAH CHANDLER
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Robert L. Rispoli (Windsor, CT, US)
Claims:
1. A walking stick comprising: a) a shaft; b) a shaft first end; c) a shaft second end; d) a first end tip removably attached to the shaft first end wherein the first end tip is designed for engaging a first walking surface; e) a second end tip removably attached to the shaft second end wherein the second end tip is designed for engaging a second walking surface; f) a first lengthened gripping surface defined over the shaft first end; g) a second lengthened gripping surface defined over the shaft second end; and h) wherein the shaft is immediately invertible to place the first lengthened gripping surface proximate to a first hand grip position and to engage the second end tip with the second walking surface or to place the second lengthened gripping surface proximate to a second hand grip position and to engage the first end tip with the first walking surface.

2. The walking stick of claim 1 wherein the first lengthened gripping surface and the second lengthened gripping surface substantially define the entire length of the shaft.

3. The walking stick of claim 1 comprising a means for removably attaching the first end tip to the shaft first end.

4. The walking stick of claim 3 comprising a means for removably attaching the second end tip to the shaft second end.

5. The walking stick of claim 1 further comprising: a) a plurality of end tips wherein each end tip is immediately removably attachable to the shaft first end or the shaft second; and b) each end tip defines a surface for engaging a corresponding walking surface.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/283,815; filed Sep. 16, 2008; which in turn claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/994,842; filed Sep. 20, 2007.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

A walking stick is a tool used by many people to assist them in walking. Walking sticks come in many shapes and sizes. The present invention is directed to a walking stick designed to aid people in walking on various surfaces. In particular, the present invention is directed to a two-headed walking stick that uses both ends of the walking stick. More particularly, a two-headed walking stick according to the present invention accommodates the use of a plurality of immediately interchangeable walking stick end tips which are selected based upon the surface upon which the user is walking.

2. Brief Description of the Related Art

Balance-impaired persons use walking sticks to give them a better sense of the vertical position, thereby lessening conditions such as vertigo. Without the walking stick, it is easy to walk at an angle, and perhaps not move in a straight line. Typically, a walking-stick is held in the stronger hand. Muscle-weakened persons exhibiting reduced strength or nerve action may need a stronger weight-bearing walking stick to take some of the load normally used by the afflicted leg.

Walking sticks or canes are generally used in the hand opposite the injury or weakness. This may appear counter-intuitive; but this allows the walking stick to be used for stability in a way that lets the user shift much of their weight onto the walking stick and away from their weaker side as they walk. Personal preference, or a need to hold the walking stick in their dominant hand, means that some users choose to hold the walking stick on their injured side. Walkers are another device that serves this purpose. Walkers are held in front of the user and allow the user to lean heavily on them. In addition, walking sticks, also called trekking poles, hiking poles or hiking sticks, are used by hikers for a wide variety of purposes.

The most common accessory, before or after purchase or manufacture of a walking-stick, is a hand strap to prevent loss of the stick should the hand release its grip. These are often threaded through a hole drilled into the stick rather than tied around the stick. A clip-on frame or similar device can be used to stand a stick against the top of a table. In cold climates, a metallic cleat may be added to the foot of the walking-stick. This dramatically increases traction on ice. The metallic cleat is usually designed so it can be easily flipped to the side to prevent damage to indoor flooring.

Different handles are available to match grips of varying sizes. Rubber tips or ferrules give extra traction on most surfaces. Nordic walking (ski walking) poles are extremely popular in Europe. Walking with two poles in the correct length radically reduces the stress to the knees, hips and back. These special poles come with straps resembling a fingerless glove, durable metal tips for off-road and removable rubber tips for pavement and other hard surfaces.

U.S. Patent Publication 2005/0211284 is directed to a trekking staff having a solid shaft portion and a hollow elongated chamber portion. The device provides sufficient strength for allowing a user to dynamically load the trekking staff with a significant portion of the user's bodyweight, and with a minimal possibility of the shaft portion bending or failing. The hollow elongated chamber portion is detachably coupled to the solid shaft portion, and can accommodate a multiplicity of hiking-related devices. A grip portion has a shape that conforms to a shape of the trekking staff and can include a strand of cord-like material.

U.S. Patent Publication 2003/0145665 is directed to a land mine probe which includes a handle and a first shaft extending from the handle and terminating at a tip. In one embodiment, the probe includes a second shaft extending from the handle and terminating at a second tip. In another embodiment, the shaft includes a plurality of segments releasably attached to one another and releasably attached to the handle. In yet another embodiment, the probe includes a sound amplification device. In still another embodiment, the probe includes a device for emitting light in a direction towards the tip.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,653,468 to Ostapyk (hereinafter referred to as “Ostapyk”) discloses a device wherein one end of a beam supports a brake pad for breaking the momentum of a skater while the opposite end supports one of at least three interchangeable inserts which include a brake pad, a free turning wheel, and a hockey stick blade. Each insert is supported within the shaft and the shaft preferably includes a plurality of spaced-apart holes for adjustably attaching the insert to the beam. This permits adjustment of the length of the beam to accommodate the skater's preferences. (See Ostapyk, Column 2, lines 22-29). The inserts of Ostapyk are secured using a bolt and lock nut arrangement 26. (See Ostapyk, Column 3, lines 16-18 and FIG. 1). Further, while braking with the Ostapyk device, the beam is rotated 180 degrees and the first end 22 is held downwards so that the brake pad 24 can be used to break momentum. As shown in Ostapyk FIG. 5, use of the brake pad requires that the user position the Ostapyk device in a particular orientation, namely, at an angle of approximately 45 degrees to the surface in order to achieve braking. A vertical positioning of the Ostapyk device, or a more horizontal positioning of the Ostapyk device than that shown in FIG. 5, would render the Ostapyk device useless for its intended purpose, namely braking (or use of other attachments such as a wheel).

The Ostapyk device, however, cannot be employed vertically or in an infinite number of angular positions relative to a walking surface to support its user for walking on such surfaces. Moreover, the Ostapyk device provides a fastened insert, such as a brake pad, a wheel, or a hockey stick blade, wherein the insert is semi-permanently installed into the shaft. The Ostapyk device is designed for use while comprising one or two inserts and is limited to supporting or controlling rolling movement. It also is quite difficult to invert the Ostapyk device while in use, that is while roller skating, particularly when the user desires to immediately invert the device to employ the tip positioned on the opposite end of the shaft. Lastly, it is virtually impossible to change a tip on one end of the Ostapyk device while it is in use.

The main difference between the two-headed walking stick of the present invention and other more conventional walking sticks or support beams known in the prior art is that none of the prior art walking sticks or support beams comprise two heads and permit the user to mount different tips at the same time and permit the device to be immediately invertible or permit immediate replacement of one or both tips. For the above reasons and others, a two-headed walking stick is a very useful and functional innovation that many people will use.

Therefore, it is the object of the present invention to provide a walking stick with two different types of cane tips, referred to herein as shaft end tips, that can be used for different kinds of walking surfaces at a moment's notice. With two heads, one gets twice the duration, durability, and preference of shaft end tip than with one head.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The present invention comprises a two-headed walking stick (hereinafter, a “THWS”) with a variety of shaft end tips which can be used interchangeably. The THWS defines two heads, one on either end of the stick, that can be of great assistance for persons that have difficulty walking and require assistance in maintaining balance. The THWS also is useful when walking or hiking on trails, climbing hills, climbing stairs, traversing soft, hard, smooth and rough surfaces, and just walking for fun. In this case “two heads” are better than one.

Applicant's device comprises a unique extended gripping surface preferably covering substantially the entire vertical gripping surface. In direct contrast to the walking sticks and support beams known in the prior art, the present invention is universally adaptable for virtually all statures and heights and, more particularly, it provides the extended gripping surfaces that are adaptable for any hand-grip usage in a full, 360 degree, circumferential fashion. No moving parts or mechanical means is required to adjust the length of Applicant's device for gripping by a user. Each individual walker will find Applicant's device self-adjustable irrespective of one's height. Moreover, the universal gripping surface of the present invention permits a user to navigate rough surfaces, slippery surfaces, and even stairs. Further, if a user of the present invention should lose their grip on the device, or should the device be dropped, it can be grabbed or picked up virtually anywhere along the shaft, in either orientation, by the user and used immediately. Alternate embodiments of the present invention may include grips of varying thickness to match hand grips of varying sizes, such as for example, about 0.5 inches to about 2 inches or more.

Applicant's device is primarily designed to assist persons that have difficulty walking and require assistance in maintaining balance while standing or walking. Use of a walking stick will put less stress on weight-bearing joints, particularly one's hips and knees, and subsequently generate less “grinding” on them. As a result of the decreased load on weight-bearing joints, the chance of an individual obtaining osteoarthritis (wear-and-tear type of arthritis) is reduced or moderated.

With the use of Applicant's device, individuals with balance problems will find an improvement in their walking over uneven or different types of terrain as well as traditional walking surfaces. One can easily hold onto the device with both hands should extra stability be needed. This overcomes a mechanical disadvantage associated with a traditional cane because the distribution of one's weight while using the THWS is more appropriate and even than with a cane (axially loaded as opposed to bent over). Substantial back support also is achieved. The present invention can help one avoid ligamentous, tendon, muscular or skeletal injuries to the lower extremities; it can be viewed as the “third leg” of a very stable “tripod-type” gait.

The present invention provides a number of additional benefits over devices known in the art. One will get a more enhanced musculoskeletal and cardiovascular workout with the additional use of upper extremities when walking. In the post-operative environment of joint replacements for the lower extremities, the present device is easily used and adaptable for supporting ambulation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 provides a three-dimensional rendering of the two-headed walking stick according to the present invention.

FIG. 2 provides a detail representation of a shaft threaded end and corresponding end tip according to the present invention.

FIG. 3 provides a three dimensional rendering of the two-headed walking stick according to the present invention

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

As shown in FIG. 1, a THWS (10) may have two different types of shaft end tips (12) and (14), referred to herein as a first end tip and a second end tip, that can be used for different kinds of surfaces at a moment's notice. With two heads, one gets twice the duration, durability, and preference than with one shaft end tip. If the THWS falls one does not have to adjust the position of the device in order to use it again—just pick it up and either end will suffice. Should a user need the other shaft end tip, all one has to do is turn it around and have a ready working end. One can select from a plurality of end tips wherein each end tip is removably attachable to the shaft first end or the shaft second. One end tip may define a hard, rubber, flat, crutch tip that is used on a relatively firm or hard ground surface. This should grip most walking areas quite nicely. Alternatively, should the ground be relatively soft, such as after a rainy period, a second end tip may define a wider base with a protruding surface(s). In either case, one has a THWS that is functional on two different kinds of surfaces because each end tip defines a different surface for engaging a corresponding walking surface.

One may also find a THWS useful in going up and down hills on a hiking trail. This type of assistive device may also be used on stairs. If one does decide to sit down and rest, it is easier to lean the stick against a vertical surface without having it fall down since either end should provide more stability.

The device body comprises a shaft having a shaft first end and a shaft second end. A first end tip is removably attached to the shaft first end wherein the first end tip is designed for engaging a first walking surface. A second end tip is removably attached to the shaft second end wherein the second end tip is designed for engaging a second walking surface. Accordingly, the shaft is immediately invertible to place the first lengthened gripping surface proximate to a first hand grip position and to engage the second end tip with its corresponding walking surface (referred to herein as the second walking surface); or to place the second lengthened gripping surface proximate to a second hand grip position and to engage the first end tip with its corresponding walking surface (referred to herein as the first walking surface). The THWS is functional on two different kinds of surfaces because each end tip defines a different surface for engaging a corresponding walking surface.

The shaft may be fabricated from lightweight aluminum, titanium or any other suitably rigid material. One embodiment of the shaft body (15) defines a cylindrical cross-sectional shape; however the shaft body may define any suitable geometric cross-sectional shape including, but not limited to, a square, pentagon, hexagon and the like. The device may comprise shaped or beveled ends (16), threaded ends (18), or studded ends (19) to receive the various kinds of shaft end tips that might be utilized. The device may comprise any similar means for removably attaching or permanently attaching shaft end tips to the shaft ends as the particular application may require. For example, the means for removably attaching or permanently attaching shaft end tips to the shaft ends may comprise any standard male/female fastening means wherein (i) the shaft end defines a protrusion and the end tip defines a corresponding receptacle; or (ii) the shaft end defines a receptacle and the end tip defines a corresponding protrusion. Preferably, the means for removably attaching or permanently attaching the shaft end tips provides for immediate exchange or replacement of the end tips.

Preferably, lengthened and longer-than-standard surfaces (20) for hand gripping are defined near and around both ends of the cylindrical or geometrically cross-sectional shaped bodies of the THWS so that either end of the stick may be held. In another embodiment of the present invention, the first lengthened gripping surface defined over the shaft first end and the second lengthened gripping surface defined over the shaft second end substantially define the entire length of the shaft. This allows for a virtual infinite amount of hand-grip adjustments to correspond to the desired length needed and used on variously-leveled walking and hiking surfaces, including but not limited to stairs and hills. As an analogy, the user of the THWS changes the position of their grip as a batter would “choke-up” on a baseball bat when hitting a baseball.

By adjusting the height or location of one's grip along the virtually infinite-length grip surface of the THWS, one can modify the distribution of forces on the stick as it goes through its pendulum-type swing. If an individual's arms are tired from overuse or weakened and/or fatigued by a medical disease or injury, this grip adjustment ability can be very helpful. In addition, this adjustment capability is also particularly useful in going up and down stairs as well as other types of uneven walking surfaces. The vertical sliding (up or down) of one's hand on the lengthened grip surface (as one walks) is quite natural and thus becomes an almost involuntary thought process. This type of adjustment is virtually instantaneous with the THWS and is not possible with a traditional walking cane.

Holes (22) may be drilled through the THWS at each end to allow an elasticized cord (24), or any suitable cord, to be place through these holes. A cord would then be positioned over the hand of the user of the stick so that if the THWS did come loose from the gripping hand, the cord should prevent the THWS from falling to the floor or down a hill.

Two hooks or extended fastener heads (26) may be placed on the shaft (15) of the THWS in order to keep the unused cord from hanging loosely. This would also prevent the cord from getting dirty should it fall on the ground.

The THWS can also be easily used by people who have arthritis, generalized weakness, pain or other deficiencies in their lower extremities. As the walking stick is quite light, it can be held relatively easily in one of the upper extremities. It can help people navigate going up or down the stairs. If one is going up or down the stairs, one can use the desired length of this THWS to gain support on each particular step. One can virtually increase or decrease the length of the stick by shifting placement of one's hand on the lengthy grip (20) placed on either end of the shaft (15) of the walking stick. In contrast, a fixed-length cane is difficult to use going up or down a set of stairs.

For people with lower extremity problems, a THWS is more useful than a traditional walking cane when just walking on level or slightly uneven ground. Again, with two different types of heads that can grip the ground, it is easy to flip the stick to one end or the other end and use either tip as needed. It is also easier to extend the virtual length of the THWS as needed if one wants to avoid a specific spot on the ground as the THWS is much longer than a traditional walking cane.

Although the invention has been described in considerable detail with respect to particular embodiments of the Applicant's invention, it will be apparent that the invention is capable of numerous modifications and variations, apparent to those skilled in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.