Title:
Protective Garment with a Flexible Collar
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A protective garment comprising a gown and an improved collar mechanism and method of use for securing protective gowns, typically used in health care settings, around the neck of a user without the need to secure with ties, tabs, snaps or other securing devices. The collar mechanism is made of a stiff material that is pliable enough to be deformed without fracture when force is applied but with a sufficient memory that allows the collar to return to its original position once the force is removed.



Inventors:
Halseth, Thor R. (Agoure Hills, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/580211
Publication Date:
02/11/2010
Filing Date:
10/15/2009
Assignee:
S2S Design
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/243.1, 2/132
International Classes:
A41D13/12; A41B3/00; A41D27/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
VANATTA, AMY B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Daniel M. Cislo (Los Angeles, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A protective garment, comprising: a. a gown having i. a closed front portion to cover a front of a torso; ii. a back portion configurable into an open state and a closed state to cover a back of the torso; iii. a pair of sleeves opposite each other, each sleeve configured to receive an arm, each sleeve comprising an elastic cuff; iv. a waist closure member to secure the back portion in the closed state; and v. a collar portion to wrap around a neck to secure the gown to the torso, the collar portion comprising a hem; and b. a collar member, generally circular or oval in cross-section and insertable into the hem of the collar portion, wherein the collar member comprises a main portion having a cross-sectional diameter, the main portion having an arcuate shape and terminating at a first end and a second end, wherein the first and second ends each comprise a cross-sectional diameter, wherein the cross-sectional diameter of the main portion is different from the cross-sectional diameters of the first and second ends, wherein the collar member is deformable when a force is applied and capable of naturally returning to its original shape after being deformed once the force is removed.

2. A protective garment, comprising: a. a gown having i. a closed front portion to cover a front of a torso; ii. an open back portion to cover a back of the torso; iii. a pair of sleeves opposite each other, each sleeve configured to receive an arm; and iv. a collar portion to wrap around a neck, the collar portion comprising a hem; and b. a collar member, generally cylindrical in shape and insertable into the hemmed collar portion, wherein the collar member comprises a main portion having a cross-sectional diameter, the main portion having an arcuate shape and terminating at a first end and a second end, wherein the first and second ends each comprise a cross-sectional diameter, wherein the cross-sectional diameter of the main portion is different from the cross-sectional diameters of the first and second ends, and wherein the collar member is capable of naturally returning to its original shape after being deformed.

3. The protective garment of claim 2, wherein the collar member is made from a material selected from the group consisting of nylon, plastic, and metal.

4. The protective garment of claim 2, wherein the collar member is affixed to the hemmed collar portion.

5. The protective garment of claim 2, wherein the collar member protrudes out from the hemmed collar portion.

6. The protective garment of claim 5, wherein the collar member comprises a fastener at the first and second ends to fasten the first end to the second end.

7. The protective garment of claim 2, wherein the gown further comprises a waist closure member.

8. The protective garment of claim 7, wherein the waist closure member is selected from the group consisting of a tie, an elastic rod, an adhesive, a magnet, and a hook.

9. The protective garment of claim 7, wherein the gown further comprises a hemmed waist portion through which the waist closure member is inserted to wrap around the torso to secure the back portion closed.

10. The protective garment of claim 2, wherein each arm sleeve comprises a cuff, wherein each cuff comprises a means for imparting tightness around the wrists.

11. A protective garment, comprising: a. a gown having i. a closed front portion to cover a front of a torso; ii. a pair of back flaps extending from opposite ends of the front portion defining a back portion to cover a back of the torso; iii. a pair of sleeves opposite each other, each sleeve configured to receive an arm; and iv. a collar portion to wrap around a neck; and b. a collar member secured to the collar portion, wherein the collar member comprises an elastic main portion, the main portion having a curvature and terminating at a first end and a second end.

12. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein the collar member is made from a material selected from the group consisting of nylon, plastic, and metal.

13. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein the collar portion comprises a hem, thereby defining a hemmed collar portion, wherein the collar member is insertable into the hemmed collar portion.

14. The protective garment of claim 13, wherein the collar member protrudes out from the hemmed collar portion.

15. The protective garment of claim 14, wherein the collar member comprises a fastener at the first and second ends to fasten the first end to the second end.

16. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein the collar member comprises a fastener to fasten the first end with the second end.

17. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein the gown further comprises a waist closure member.

18. The protective garment of claim 17, wherein the waist closure member is selected from the group consisting of a tie, an elastic rod, an adhesive, a magnet, and a hook.

19. The protective garment of claim 17, wherein the waist closure member is an elastic rod and, wherein the gown further comprises a hemmed waist portion through which the elastic rod is inserted to wrap around the torso to secure the back portion closed.

20. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein each sleeve comprises an elastic cuff.

Description:

REFERENCE TO PRIOR APPLICATION

This application is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 12/322,037, filed Jan. 27, 2009, entitled “Easy On and Off Collar for a Protective Garment” which claims the priority of provisional application 61/137,365, filed Jul. 29, 2008 entitled Hospital Gown with Easy On and Off Collar, which applications are incorporated in their entirety here by this reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to the field of protective garments and specifically to a collar enclosure that allows for quick and easy securing to the wearer's neck.

2. Description of the Prior Art

Protective garments are used in medical settings to cover patients and health care workers alike to isolate the patients from ambient germs found on practitioners' clothing and to isolate practitioners from germs and fluids from patients.

Typically a protective garment is disposable, but some are not. In use, the user places his or her arms through the sleeves and then the gown is secured around the neck with a tie, VELCRO® or sticky tape as well as around the wearer's waist with a tie.

Tying the collar portion of the protective garment can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Sometimes, the securing of the ties around the neck is not completely successful or not done at all. As a result, the gown can come open causing the shoulders to droop off of the wearer at inopportune times, thereby exposing both the patient and health care worker each to the other.

A recent development in attempting to solve this problem has involved the use of a bib-like device that goes over the head of the wearer. This device suffers because it musses hair and can get caught on jewelry.

There exists, therefore, a need for an improved method of securing the collar around the neck of a health care worker other than the methods found in the prior art.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The preferred embodiment of the present invention is directed towards a protective garment such as a hospital or medical gown, having a collar stiffener for placement inside or outside of the hem of the collar of the gown, the collar stiffener comprising a member that fits inside or outside of the hem of the collar of the gown. The member terminates in a first end and a second end wherein the member is composed of a material that is pliable enough to move with the application of force.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is composed of a material that in addition to being pliable enough to move with the application of force, it contains sufficient memory so as to return to its original shape once the forced is released.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and the second end are thicker than the rod.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and second end are thinner than the rod.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of nylon.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of plastic.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and the second end protrude from the hem slightly.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of metal.

The second embodiment of the instant invention teaches a method of quickly securing a gown around a wearer's neck comprising the steps of: sewing a member into or outside of the hem of the neck of the gown, the member such that it will fit inside or outside of the hem of the collar of the gown. The member terminates in a first end and a second end wherein the member is composed of a material that is pliable enough to move with the application of force; gripping the neck of the gown and expanding it to a position wide enough to wrap around the wearer's neck; wrapping the gown around the wearer's neck; and releasing the member.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of a material that in addition to being pliable enough to move with the application of force, it contains sufficient memory so as to return to its original shape once the forced is released.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and the second end are thicker than the member.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and the second end are thinner than the member.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of nylon.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of plastic.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the first end and the second end protrude from said hem slightly.

The above embodiment can be further modified by defining that the member is made of metal.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the collar stiffener of the instant invention;

FIG. 2 is a top view of one of the ends of an embodiment of the collar stiffener;

FIG. 3 is a side view of one of the ends of an embodiment of the collar stiffener;

FIG. 4 is a front view of an embodiment of the collar portion as it sits in the hem of the collar of a gown and wraps around the neck of a wearer;

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternate embodiment of the collar stiffener of the instant invention;

FIG. 6 is a top view of the collar stiffener demonstrating the memory of it as it expands and contracts to fit around a user's neck;

FIG. 7 is a front view of an alternate embodiment of the collar portion as it sits in the hem of the collar of a gown and wraps around the neck of a wearer;

FIG. 8 is a close up view of a second alternate embodiment of the tip of the collar enclosure of the instant invention;

FIG. 9 is a close up view of a third alternate embodiment of the tip of the collar enclosure of the instant invention;

FIG. 10 is a close up view of a second alternate embodiment of the tip of the collar enclosure of the instant invention;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of the front of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a perspective view of the rear of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 13 is a close-up of the collar portion shown in FIG. 12; and

FIG. 14A-D are close-up views of various closures for the collar member or the waist closure member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended as a description of presently-preferred embodiments of the invention and is not intended to represent the only forms in which the present invention may be constructed or utilized. The description sets forth the functions and the sequence of steps for constructing and operating the invention in connection with the illustrated embodiments. It is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions and sequences may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the spirit and scope of the invention.

The present invention is directed to a protective garment that can be donned quickly, easily, and securely, with or without the assistance of others. The protective garment comprises a gown 30 to cover the wearer's body and a stiffening member or collar member 10 to secure the gown 30 to the wearer.

As shown in FIGS. 11-13, the gown 30 may be a standard hospital or medical gown, such as those worn by health care professionals. The gown has a closed-off front portion 42 that continues towards the back in opposite directions to form two back flaps 44, 46. The closed-off front portion 42 prevents exposure of the wearer's torso to the environment. The back flaps 44, 46 create an opening 45 through which the wearer can don the gown 30. Together the front portion 42 and the rear flaps 44, 46 can cover the wearer's entire torso from the neck to below the waistline. The rear flaps 44, 46 may be joined to close off the back portion. This allows the back portion to be open but closeable by bringing the back flaps 44, 46 together behind the torso and securing the back flaps 44, 46 together by any means.

A waist closure member 52 or other fastening means, such as adhesives, magnets, hook-and-loop fasteners, elastic rods, snaps, slip locks, or the like, may be used to secure the rear flaps 44, 46 closed.

Two sleeves 48, 50 may also be integrally formed into the gown 30 or may be stitched, glued, or otherwise fastened into the gown 30. Any stitch portions of the gown may utilize a welded seam for aesthetics as well as improving impermeability. The sleeves 48, 50 may each comprise an elastic cuff 54, 56 to impart a tightness around the wrists. The elastic cuffs 54, 56 allow the wearer to prevent unwanted exposure to the environment through the cuffs and to allow the wearer to pull the sleeves 48, 50 and gloves off together without having to touch the gloves. Other means for imparting a tightness around the cuffs 54, 56 include flaps, straps, wraps, ties, and the like. The other means for imparting tightness may utilize quick-release fastening means such as adhesives, hook-and-loop fasteners, buttons, and the like.

The gown 30 may be constructed of any type of fabric, cloth, plastic, or any other textile suitable for wearing. The types of material used may range from level zero to level four fabric. For example, in some embodiments, the gown 30 may be made from a level zero fabric, such as spunbond polyester to provide a basic barrier protection. In some embodiments, the gown 30 may be made from a level two fabric, such as a tri-layer SMS fabric to provide a fluid resistant barrier, while allowing breathability. The gown may be disposable or reusable. The gown 30 may be any color, although utilizing a yellow color tends to be cheaper for manufacturing purposes. In some embodiments, the gowns may be color-coded to designate the staff. Thus, each health care worker can know the role of another by the color of their gowns 30.

At the top of the gown 30, the front portion 42 and rear flaps 44, 46 define a collar 40. A collar member 10 associated with the collar 40 is designed to engage a wearer's neck to securely hold the gown 30 to the wearer's body. The collar member 10 may be fastened or otherwise secured to the collar portion 40 of the gown 30. In some embodiments, the collar member 10 may be stitched to the collar 40. In some embodiments, the collar 40 may comprise a hem 28. Utilizing the hem 28 to secure the collar member 10 to the gown 30 allows the collar member 10 to maintain some adjustability as the collar member 10 may slide in and out of the hem 28. In some embodiments, the collar member 28 may be inserted into the hem 28 and also fastened to the collar 40, for example, by stitching.

As shown in FIG. 4, the hem 28 may be a single continuous hem extending from one back flap 44 through the front portion 42, to the second back flap 46 along the top of the gown 30. In some embodiments, the hem 28 may not extend the full perimeter of the collar portion 40. In some embodiments, a plurality of short segments of hems 28 may be intermittently spaced around the periphery of the collar portion 40.

The collar member 10 is fed into or sewn to the hem 28 of the neck of the protective garment 30. The member 10 may or may not stick out of either side ½″ to 1″ where the ties are typically found in the back of the open portion of standard garments. The user 34 simply spreads the two ends 12, 14 of the collar member 10 to a distance that allows it to reach around the wearer's neck 32 and releases it to fit around the user's neck without the need to tie, VELCRO® or sticky tab the back of the garment together, thereby keeping the collar 40 closed and the garment's shoulders in proper position during use. Once the user is done with the garment, it is simply pulled off of the neck and arms and discarded. There is no need to untie or separate any VELCRO® or sticky tabs by reaching up and around the neck 32 to do so.

Furthermore, when installing this collar member 10 in the neck, the manufacturer could optionally leave the standard ties 57 remaining, or any other fastener, such as VELCRO® or sticky tabs, as a secondary means of securement. When a health care worker 34 must wear the garment for an extended period of time, then it may be desirable to include a secondary means of securement. However, typically health care workers are quickly in and out of areas that require the gowns. A hospital or other health care setting can use up to thirty gowns per shift.

The collar member 10 can be made of nylon, plastic or metal wire, or any other material that is pliable. Preferably, the collar member is made with nylon 66. In some embodiments, the collar member 10 may possess an elasticity. In other words, the material can also have a memory that will allow the collar member 10 to be bent or expanded to an open configuration when a force is applied and return to the closed position once force is removed.

Illustrated in FIG. 1 is the preferred embodiment of the collar member 10. The collar member 10 comprises generally an elongated, rod shaped main portion 16 having a first end 12 and a second end 14 opposite the first end 12 and with a generally circular cross section. The main portion 16 may take on other cross-sectional shapes; however, shapes that reduce surface area and provide a smooth surface are preferred to facilitate insertion of the collar member 10 into the hem 28. Other suitable cross sectional shapes include triangles, squares, ovals, ellipses, other polygons, and the like.

The main portion 16 is generally an elongated rod formed into a curved shape so as to wrap around a user's neck. The overall curved shape may be circular, oval, elliptical, and the like. Any other shape that allows the collar member 10 to encircle the wearer's neck 32 is also suitable, such as triangular, square, pentagonal, hexagonal, and the like.

Having a cylindrical collar member 10 allows the collar member 10 to be made in a cost-effective manner. In addition, existing gowns 30 require only minimal changes, if any, to receive the collar member 10. For example, collar members 10 may be directly fastened to existing collar portions 40 or hems 28 may be sewn into the collar portions 40 to receive the collar member 10. In either case, the existing gown 30 does not require expensive alterations.

The first end 12 and second end 14 of the collar member 10 may serve to secure the member 10 inside the collar 40 of the gown 30 so that it does not move within the collar 40. In some embodiments, the first end 12 and the second end 14 may have a thickness that is smaller than the thickness of the main portion 16. For example, the first and second ends 12, 14 may be flattened or tapered. A top view of the first end (which is the same as the second end) is shown in FIG. 2. The smaller thickness portion is shown as 12a. FIG. 3 shows the end 12 in side view. The thin portion 12a should be of sufficient thickness to allow the placement therethrough of a sewing needle, allowing for the ends 12 and 14 to be sewn directly to the hem 28 of the collar. Alternatively, each end 12, 14 may have a hole through which thread or other fastening means may be inserted to fasten the collar member 10 to the collar 42.

In some embodiments, the first and second ends may be thicker than the main body portion as illustrated in FIGS. 5 and 7. In these drawings, the collar member is referred to as 110, the main body is 116, the first end is 112 and the second end is 114. Increasing the thickness of the ends reduces the chances of the ends slipping back into the hem 28 in embodiments where the collar member 110 is not affixed to the collar 40 or hem 28. It also allows the ends to be more easily grasped. Increasing the thickness of the first and second ends 112, 114 may be achieved in a number of different ways. For example, the tip may be a folded tip 22, folded over itself to create a thicker cross section as seen in FIG. 8. Alternatively, the tip may be an enlarged tip 24, for example by making the tip into a ball-shape to create a thicker cross section as seen in FIG. 9. The tip 26 can also have the same general shape as the main portion 16, but be fabricated thicker as seen in FIG. 10.

In some embodiments, the ends 12, 14 may further comprise a fastening means 58. For example, the ends 12, 14 may have adhesives, ties, hook-and-loop fasteners, magnets, snaps, buttons, hooks, clips, weights, slips, cords, resistance fits, and the like for quick and easy securement and release. Attachment of the fastening means is, therefore, virtually automatic as the elastic nature of the collar member 10 brings the fastening means together to provide added security. In some embodiments, the main portion 16 may have a degree of plasticity or pliability that allows the main portion 16 to be bent into particular shapes and retain those shapes. In embodiments in which the collar member 10 is not affixed to the collar portion 40, the first and second ends 12, 14 can be brought together and the entire collar member 10 rotated about the neck of the user until the first and second ends 12, 14 enter into the hemmed portion 28 to further secure the collar member 10 on the neck.

A larger version of the collar member 10 comprising the same or similar features, material, and characteristics may be used as a waist closure member 52. In other words, the waist closure member 52 may also be an elongated, elastic, rod-like member. The waist closure member 52 may be circular, oval, or elliptical in shape. The waist area may also comprise a hem 60 through which the waist closure member 52 may be inserted analogous to the hem 28 in the collar portion 40. Other closure means can also be used for the waist closure member, such as adhesives, ties, hook-and-loop fasteners, magnets, snaps, buttons, hooks, clips, weights, slips, cords, resistance fits, and the like for quick and easy securement and release. In some embodiments, the waist closure member 52 may have a degree of plasticity or pliability that allows the waist closure member 52 to be bent into particular shapes and retain those shapes.

FIGS. 14A-14D show suitable examples of fastening means that can be attached to the ends of the collar member 10 and/or the waist closure member 52. As shown in FIG. 14A, the ends 12, 14 may comprise a hook system 58a in which one end 12 or 14 comprises an eyelet 70 and the other end 12 or 14 comprises a hook 72 to secure the hook 72 in the eyelet 70 to help keep the gown closed.

As shown in FIG. 14B, the ends 12, 14 may comprise end snaps 58b in which one end 12 or 14 comprises an insertion member 76 and the other end 12 or 14 comprises a receiving member 74 comprising an orifice configured to receive the insertion member 76 to secure the end snaps 58b due to resistance to help keep the gown closed. In some embodiment, the insertion member 76 may further comprise a means for increasing resistance inside the receiving member 74. For example, the tip of the insertion member may be enlarged or bulbous with the receiving member 74 having a reciprocal pocket to accommodate the bulbous tip. In some embodiments, the insertion member 76 may be ribbed or have flanges and the receiving member 74 may have reciprocal pockets to receive the ribs or flanges.

As shown in FIG. 14C, the ends 12, 14 may comprise a magnet system 58c in which one end 12 or 14 comprises a positive pole 78 and the other end 12 or 14 comprises a negative pole 80 to attract the positive pole 78 to secure the magnets 58c to help keep the gown closed.

As shown in FIG. 14D, the ends 12, 14 may comprise a slip lock 58d in which one end 12 or 14 comprises a slit 82 and the other end 12 or 14 comprises a barbed insertion member 84 insertable into the slit 82 to secure the slip lock 58d to help keep the gown closed. The barbs 86 are angled in such a way as to slide into the slit 82 in a first direction but to catch the slit 82 to encumber the removal of the barbed insertion member 84 in a second direction. In some embodiments, the slit portion 82 or the barbed insertion member portion 84 may further comprise perforations 88 so that pulling on the collar member 10 or the waist closure member 52 with the appropriate force causes the slip lock to tear at the perforations to easily remove the gown. The perforations 88 are, however, sturdy enough not to tear during normal wear.

The protective garment may be made by providing a gown 30 having a collar 40 and securing the collar member 10 to the collar 40 of the gown 30. The collar member 10 may be secured to the gown 30 by stitching, with adhesives, or any other fastening means. In some embodiments, a hem 28 is created at the collar 40 by folding the collar portion 40 of the gown 30 back on itself and affixing the collar portion 40 in the folded configuration. This creates a small tunnel through which the collar member 10 may be inserted. Once inserted into the hem 28, the collar member 10 may be affixed to the collar 40.

FIG. 4 shows the collar 40 as it appears when in use. The user grips the member 10 at any point to spread the distance between the ends from the first position 18 to a second position 20 that is wide enough to allow the member 10 to easily pass around a user's neck (see FIG. 6).

FIG. 4 shows the collar member 10 housed inside the hem 28 of the collar of a gown 30 as it fits around the neck 32 of a user 34. The first end 12 and second end 14 can protrude from the hem 28 slightly to allow for easy grip (see the alternate embodiments FIGS. 5-10). In the preferred embodiment, however, the first end 12 and second end 14 do not protrude from the hem 28 and are designed to allow the ends 12, 14 to be sewn directly into the hem 28.

The foregoing description of the preferred embodiment of the invention has been presented for the purposes of illustration and description. It is not intended to be exhaustive or to limit the invention to the precise form disclosed. Many modifications and variations are possible in light of the above teaching. It is intended that the scope of the invention not be limited by this detailed description, but by the claims and the equivalents to the claims appended hereto.