Title:
Body Part Protector
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for protecting a body part from external pressure loading, comprising a flexible, moment-transmitting, substantially positively curved supporting shell (2) which, on an inside, is provided with a supporting layer (4) for cooperation with the body part to be protected, and which is further provided with supports (6, 7) provided on both sides of a center part (5) of the supporting shell, spaced apart and extending away from an outside of the supporting shell, such that pressure forces operatively exerted on the supports are transmitted, with bending of the supporting shell to a curvature more corresponding with the body part to be protected, via the supporting layer as a distributed pressure load to the body part to be protected.



Inventors:
Schaaper, Martijn (Den Haag, NL)
König, Thomas (Huizen, NL)
Application Number:
12/515795
Publication Date:
08/05/2010
Filing Date:
11/22/2007
Assignee:
BOBINNO V.O.F. ('s-Gravenhage, NL)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
2/24
International Classes:
A41D27/26; A41D13/06
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
SZAFRAN, BRIEANNA TARAH LARELL
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ADSERO IP LLC (LITTLETON, CO, US)
Claims:
1. A device for protecting a body part from external pressure loading, comprising a flexible, moment-transmitting, substantially positively curved supporting shell which, on an inside, is provided with a supporting layer for cooperation with the body part to be protected, and which is further provided with supports provided on both sides of a center part of the supporting shell, spaced apart and extending away from an outside of the supporting shell, such that pressure forces operatively exerted on the supports are transmitted, with the supporting shell bending to a curvature more corresponding with the body part to be protected, via the supporting layer as a distributed pressure load to the body part to be protected.

2. The device according to claim 1, wherein the center part of the supporting shell extends between the supports in a dip-shaped manner.

3. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting shell extends beyond the supports, viewed from the center part.

4. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting shell is substantially thin-walled.

5. The device according to claim 1, wherein at least a part of the supporting shell is designed as a single curved surface.

6. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting shell is substantially plate-shaped.

7. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting shell has a varying curvature.

8. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supports are substantially rigidly connected with the supporting shell.

9. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supports comprise substantially plate-shaped legs.

10. The device according to claim 1, wherein, on a side facing away from the supporting shell, the supports are provided with supporting surfaces located at a distance from the supporting shell.

11. The device according to claim 10, wherein the supports are pivotably connected with the supporting surfaces.

12. The device according to claim 10, wherein the supports are connected via a common supporting surface.

13. The device according to claim 11, wherein the pivots of the supports are located at a distance from the supporting surface.

14. The device according to any one of claims 10, wherein the supporting surfaces are located at a distance from the center part.

15. The device according to claim 10, wherein the cross section of the supporting shell, the supports and the supporting surfaces is substantially constant.

16. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting shell, supporting legs and optionally supporting surfaces are one extrusion profile.

17. The device according to claim 1, wherein the supporting layer is softer than the shell material.

18. The device according to claim 1, wherein a plurality of single curved supporting shell parts are provided which mutually include an angle.

19. The device according to claim 1, wherein it forms a kneepad.

20. The device according to claim 1, wherein it forms a shoulder strap.

Description:

The invention relates to a device for protecting a body part from local external pressure loading.

Such body part protectors are generally known, and are in particular used for protecting a body part from brief peak pressure loading and/or prolonged static pressure loading. In general, the known body part protector seeks to relieve specific vulnerable body parts by distributing the pressure force over a number of alternative contact areas.

A very well-known body part protector is, for instance, the kneepad. Kneepads are typically designed as a foam block attachable around the front side of the knee. The foam block is typically preformed on the knee in the shape of a half-round shell. Due to the effect of the foam, the contact surface on which the knee rests is increased. A drawback of a kneepad of this type is that the highest pressure on the knee still occurs on the spot in the front of the knee, where the sensitive parts are located, such as the patella.

Further, in the prior art, a great many other, less conventional kneepads have already been proposed. A drawback of such constructions is that they are, for instance, only suitable for knees of a particular size, that they offer insufficient lateral support, that they offer support in particular areas only and/or that they are relatively complex.

Another known body part protector is the shoulder strap for carrying heavy bags. A shoulder strap is typically designed as a wide belt or strap. Due to the effect of the wide and soft strap, the contact surface is increased here as well, and the force is distributed over the shoulder. A drawback of a shoulder strap of this type is that a peak pressure is created on projecting parts, such as bones, muscles and tendons.

The invention contemplates an alternative body part protector, where the body part is well protected from both brief peak loading and prolonged static loading, and where the above-mentioned drawbacks are obviated.

To this end, the invention provides a device for protecting a body part from external pressure loading, comprising a flexible, moment-transmitting substantially positively curved supporting shell which, on the inside, is provided with a supporting layer for cooperation with the body part to be protected, and which is further provided with supports provided on both sides of a center part of the supporting shell, spaced apart and extending away from an outside of the supporting shell, such that pressure forces operatively exerted on the supports are transmitted, with the supporting shell bending to a curvature more corresponding with the body part to be protected, via the supporting layer as a distributed pressure load to the body part to be protected.

By use of such a semi-rigid supporting shell placed on supports and provided with an internal lining, by deformation of the supporting shell as a result of the pressure force to be transmitted, the form-locking with the body part to be protected can be increased. As a result, the contact surface can increase, so that the contact pressure is reduced. Further, peak loads can be avoided, and a good lateral stability can be guaranteed. Such a protection construction can have a relatively simple and compact design.

Such a body part protector may, for instance, be used as a kneepad, but may of course also be used for protecting other body parts, for instance as a shoulder strap or neck strap.

The supporting shell is preferably designed to be thin-walled, for instance as a plate. In an advantageous manner, at least a part of the supporting shell is designed as a single curved surface. This simplifies the bending movement to be carried out by the supporting shell, and simplifies the construction. The curvature of the supporting shell may then be constant, but the supporting shell may also have a varying curvature. In an advantageous manner, the supporting shell is designed from plastic. material, for instance ABS.

The supporting layer on the inside cooperating with the body part to be protected is preferably designed to be relatively soft, i.e. with a hardness which is lower than the hardness of the actual supporting shell. The soft supporting layer may, for instance, comprise material which is elastomeric and/or foamlike. The supporting layer may be provided on the inside of the supporting shell as a continuous layer, but may also be interrupted. Further, the thickness of the supporting layer may vary locally. By varying the curvature of the supporting shell and/or the local thickness of the soft supporting layer, the body part protector can be adapted to the geometry of the body part to be protected.

When the center part of the supporting shell extends between the supports in a dip-shaped manner, it can be achieved that the pressure force to be transmitted can yield a relatively forceful closing moment with respect to the dip of the supporting shell.

When the supporting shell construction extends beyond the supports, viewed from the center part, the area over which the pressure force to be transmitted is distributed by the supporting shell can be increased further and a still better lateral support can be offered.

When the supports are substantially rigidly connected with the supporting shell construction, a good moment transmission can be guaranteed. The supports may be designed in an elegant manner as substantially plate-shaped legs, and the supports are integrated with the supporting shell in an advantageous manner.

By providing the supports, on a side facing away from the supporting shell, with supporting surfaces located at a distance from the supporting shell construction, it can be guaranteed that the center part of the supporting shell remains clear when the body part protector is, for instance, placed on a sandy soil. By providing the supports with supporting surfaces by which the center part of the supporting shell is supported on the ground, thereby enclosing a deformation space, it can be achieved that the supporting shell is free to deform. The supporting surfaces may be located at the ends of the supports themselves, or may be connected with the supports via an intermediate element, such as for instance upstanding edges.

By pivotably connecting the supports with the supporting surfaces, during use, a good closing movement of the supporting shell can be guaranteed.

By connecting the supports via one common supporting surface, the use of the body part protector can be facilitated, and the construction can be kept simple.

In an elegant manner, the pivots of the supports can then be placed at a distance from the supporting surface. It can thus be achieved that the shell can deform uniformly. The distance from the pivots can then be chosen such that the pivots remain substantially in their places upon deformation of the shell, which facilitates the deformation of the construction. In particular, in this manner, it can be realized that, in deformed condition, the supporting shell can substantially maintain its basic shape. As an alternative to a pivotable connection between supporting shell and supporting surface, the supports may also have a somewhat flexible design. The supports can then accommodate the movement of the deformation of the supporting shell by bending.

When the cross section of supporting shell construction, supports and optionally supporting surfaces transversely to the axis of curvature of the supporting shell is substantially constant, at least a part of the body part protector can be designed as an extrusion profile in a simple manner.

The body part protector may, for instance, be provided with different auxiliary parts. Thus, in the case of a kneepad, for instance, a cup-shaped nose part may be provided which is coupled with the actual supporting shell. Further, the body part protector may be built up from multiple segments, for instance a number of single curved supporting shell parts which mutually include an angle for protecting a body part which is more spherical than cylindrical.

The invention will now be explained in more detail on the basis of a number of exemplary embodiments shown in a drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 shows a schematic perspective view of a body part protector designed as a kneepad;

FIG. 2 shows a schematic side elevational view of the kneepad of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 shows a schematic cross section of the kneepad of FIG. 2 along the line III;

FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B show a schematic simplification of the cross section of FIG. 3 in which the cooperation with a knee is shown with and without pressure load, respectively;

FIG. 4C shows a schematic and simplified overlapping view of FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B, in which the movements and deformations are clearly visible;

FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B show two views corresponding with FIG. 4A and FIG. 4B, respectively, in which the kneepad cooperates with a knee with a smaller diameter;

FIG. 6A and FIG. 6B show a schematic perspective cross section of an alternative embodiment of the body part protector as a kneepad in an unloaded and loaded position, respectively;

FIG. 7 shows a schematic perspective view of a further embodiment of the body protector as a shoulder or neck protector for, for instance, a shoulder strap;

FIG. 8A shows a schematic side elevational view of the shoulder or neck protector of FIG. 7; and

FIG. 8B shows a schematic cross section of the shoulder or neck protector along the line A-A in FIG. 8A.

It is noted that the embodiments shown in the exemplary embodiment are only schematic representations of preferred embodiments of the invention which are shown by way of non-limiting example. In the Figures, same or corresponding parts are designated by the same reference numerals.

Referring to the Figures, and in particular FIGS. 1 to 3, there is shown a first embodiment of a device 1 for protecting a body part from external pressure loading, hereinafter also referred to as body part protector. The body part protector 1 comprises a flexible, moment-transmitting supporting shell 2 with a positive curvature. The supporting shell 2 is semi-rigid, which means that, unlike a cord or belt, it can not only transmit tensile forces, but can also transmit a moment, but can bend under service loading during use and therefore does not behave as a rigid, non-deformable body.

The supporting shell 2 is substantially positively curved. The basic shape of the supporting shell extends in an inward curvature.

On the inside 3, i.e. the side facing the body part to be protected, the supporting shell 2 is provided with a soft supporting layer 4 for cooperation with the body part to be protected. The supporting shell 2 is further provided with a supports 6, 7 provided on both sides of a center part 5 of the supporting shell 2. The supports 6, 7 are spaced apart and extend away from the outside 8 of the supporting shell 2. Here, the outside 8 is the side of the supporting shell 2 facing away from the body part to be protected.

Referring to FIGS. 4A and 4B, there is shown that the body part protector is such that pressure forces operatively exerted on the supports 6, 7 are transmitted, with bending of the supporting shell 2 to a curvature corresponding more with the body part 9 to be protected, via the supporting layer 4 as a distributed pressure load to the body part 9 to be protected. As a result of the contact force, the supporting shell automatically adjusts to the body part to be protected by means of deformation of the semi-rigid supporting shell construction. The contact surface increases and the contact pressure is reduced.

The center part 5 of the supporting shell 2 extends in a dip-shaped manner between the supports 6, 7.

Here, the supporting shell 2 has a thin-walled design, and extends over the whole supporting shell as a single curved surface. Here, the supporting shell 2 has a substantially plate-shaped design.

The supports 6, 7 are connected with the supporting shell 2 so as to be moment-transmitting. In this exemplary embodiment, the supports 6, 7 are integrated with the supporting shell 2. Here, the supports 6, 7 are designed as substantially plate-shaped legs.

On their sides facing away from the supporting shell 2, the supports 6, 7 are provided with supporting surfaces 10 located at a distance from the supporting shell 2. Here, the supports 6, 7 are connected via one supporting surface 10. The supporting surface 10 is provided with intermediate elements which are here designed as upstanding edges 11, 12. The supports 6, 7 are supported on the upstanding edges via pivots 13, 14. The supports 6, 7 are therefore pivotably connected with the supporting surface 10, and the center part 5 of the supporting shell 2 is therefore located at a distance from the supporting surface 10.

In this embodiment, the material of the supporting surface 10 and the upstanding edges 11, 12 is so rigid that, with a pressure load between the ground and the body part 9 to be protected, it will hardly deform.

A good picture of the deformations and movements of the body part protector 1 in loaded and unloaded condition can be obtained by studying FIG. 4C.

FIG. 5A and FIG. 5B show that the body part protector 1 also functions very well when the diameter of the body part to be protected is chosen to be considerably smaller.

In this embodiment, the supporting surface 10 is designed to be substantially closed, so that it may, for instance, be placed well on a sandy ground. Again referring to FIGS. 1 to 3, the body part protector 1 is here designed as a kneepad. To this end, a nose part 15 is provided which protects the part of the knee which is in front in the kneeled condition of the user, and which can roll over the ground during forward tilting. Further, schematically shown fastening belts 16 are provided for fastening the kneepad by enclosure of the calf.

In this embodiment, the supporting shell 2 and the supports form, in cross section, a substantially closed boxlike section. The cross section of the section is substantially constant. In an advantageous manner, supporting shell 2, supporting legs 6, 7 and supporting surface may be manufactured from one or more extrusion profiles.

FIGS. 6A and 6B show an alternative embodiment of the body part protector 1. In this embodiment, the supporting shell 2 extends beyond the supports 6, 7, viewed from the center part 5. Further, the supporting shell is provided with a single, but varying curvature. In this embodiment, the body part 9″ is a knee, and the body part protector is again used as a kneepad, while it is clearly shown that, due to the varying curvature, knee and lower leg can be accommodated well.

In this exemplary embodiment, the supports 6, 7 are rigidly connected with the supporting shell 2, and they are formed integrally with the supporting shell 2.

In this embodiment, the ground is the supporting surface. The free ends of the supports will therefore be pivotably supported on the ground during use. In this embodiment, the support surfaces are located at the ends of the supports 6, 7 themselves.

In FIG. 7, FIG. 8A and FIG. 8B, a further embodiment of the body part protector is shown with which, for instance, a shoulder can be protected from pressure force exerted by a strap. In this embodiment, the strap 17 is schematically shown. The strap 17 is led through open slots 18 in the supporting surface 10, so that the pressure force exerted by the strap on the shoulder 19 can be transmitted via the supports 6, 7 and the supporting shell 2 and the soft supporting layer 4 as a distributed pressure load. In this use, the supporting layer 4 may optionally not have a soft design, for instance when it is intended that clothing forms a soft intermediate layer between shoulder and supporting layer. In the embodiment shown here, the pivots 13, 14 are designed as a reduction between the supports 6, 7 and supporting surface. Of course, it is also possible to design the supports 6, 7 to be somewhat flexible to accommodate the movement of supporting shell 2 in the more strongly curved, loaded condition so that the supporting shell can maintain a substantially constant curvature.

It is noted that the invention is not in any way limited to the exemplary embodiments shown herein. Many variations are possible. For instance, different aspects of the various exemplary embodiments may be combined. In particular, the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B may be provided with a supporting surface, and the exemplary embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5 may be provided with a supporting shell with varying curvature.

Further, the thickness of the lining layer may, for instance, be varied, and the lining layer may also be interrupted. Such variants will be readily apparent to a skilled person and are understood to be within the scope of the invention as set forth in the following claims.