Title:
ELEVATED SEAT ASSEMBLY AND METHOD
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An elevated seat assembly for a toilet bowl has a stiff platform adapted to (a) rest atop said bowl, and (b) attach to the rear of the bowl. The assembly also has a compressible, raised seat that is releasably attached to the stiff platform. The raised seat has a flexible upper surface. The raised seat and platform can be installed together on the bowl. The raised seat can then be removed from the platform, leaving the platform installed on the bowl. In some cases the raised seat is horseshoe-shaped and its front to back orientation can be reversed before reinstalling it on the platform.



Inventors:
Richmond, James (Blairstown, NJ, US)
Chesney, Scott (Verona, NJ, US)
Application Number:
14/305107
Publication Date:
12/17/2015
Filing Date:
06/16/2014
Assignee:
RICHMOND JAMES
CHESNEY SCOTT
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47K13/02
View Patent Images:
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20100269249COMBINED TOILET AND SEAT APPARATUSOctober, 2010Wharton
20130247292Apparatus for Prevention of a Toilet OverflowSeptember, 2013Jefferson
20080289099Portable disability bathNovember, 2008Skinner
20140331400BATH AID STRUCTURE AND BATH AID ASSEMBLYNovember, 2014Chien et al.
20160058252Portable toilet training seatMarch, 2016Mapes
20060213001Aspirating apparatus particularly for toiletsSeptember, 2006Mattiello
20040231046NOZZLE HEADNovember, 2004Lee
20110308007SHOWER FOOTRESTDecember, 2011Stevens



Primary Examiner:
SKUBINNA, CHRISTINE J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
THE LAW OFFICES OF THOMAS L. ADAMS (LIVINGSTON, NJ, US)
Claims:
1. An elevated seat assembly for a toilet bowl with a front and rear, said seat assembly comprising a stiff platform adapted to (a) rest atop said bowl, and (b) attach to the rear of said bowl; and a compressible, raised seat releasably attached to said stiff platform, said raised seat having a flexible upper surface.

2. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat has a thickness exceeding 3 inches.

3. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat has a foam core and a flexible cover.

4. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat comprises: a compressible core; a rigid panel mounted under said compressible core; and a flexible cover encompassing said core and panel.

5. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 4 wherein said raised seat comprises: a fastener for fastening together said rigid panel and said platform.

6. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 5 wherein said fastener comprises a threaded coupling affixed to said rigid panel and extending into said platform.

7. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said platform has a rear edge, said seat assembly comprising: a backplate mounted upright at the rear edge of said platform.

8. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 7 wherein said backplate has a top edge, said seat assembly comprising: a lid pivotally mounted at the top edge of said backplate.

9. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 comprising: a hinge connecting said platform to said bowl.

10. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said platform has a sidewall encompassing said raised seat on its outside, said raised seat extending higher than said sidewall.

11. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 2 wherein said raised seat has an upper surface at an elevation of about 17 inches.

12. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 comprising: a disposable sheath for temporarily encompassing said raised seat above and below.

13. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat is releasably attached to said platform by either one of a dovetail joint or snap joint.

14. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said platform comprises: a bottom panel resting atop said bowl; an intermediate panel slidably mounted on said bottom panel; and a top panel hingedly connected to said intermediate panel, said raised seat being releasably attached to said top panel.

15. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat is releasably attached to said platform by either one of a dovetail joint or snap joint.

16. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat is releasably attached to said platform by either one of a dovetail joint or snap joint.

17. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat is horseshoe-shaped, has a gap, and is adapted to be mounted on said platform with said gap located at the rear of said bowl.

18. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 1 wherein said raised seat is horseshoe-shaped, has a gap, and is adapted to be reversibly mounted on said platform with said gap located either at the rear or the front of said bowl.

19. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 18 wherein said platform has a rear edge, said seat assembly comprising: a backplate mounted upright at the rear edge of said platform.

20. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 19 wherein said raised seat comprises: a compressible core; a rigid panel mounted under said compressible core; and a flexible cover encompassing said core and panel.

21. An elevated seat assembly according to claim 18 wherein said platform has a central opening with a rear corridor for enhancing manual access.

22. A method for raising the seating on a toilet bowl and employing a stiff platform and one or more compressible, raised seats, the method comprising the steps of: installing together on the bowl the platform and an original one of the one or more raised seats; and removing the original one of the raised seats from the platform, leaving the platform installed on the bowl.

23. A method according to claim 22 comprising the step of: attaching to the platform a replacement one of the one or more raised seats.

24. A method according to claim 22 comprising the step of: cleaning the original one of the one or more raised seats; and reattaching to the platform the original one of the one or more raised seats.

25. A method for raising the seating on a toilet bowl and employing a stiff platform and at least one compressible, horseshoe-shaped raised seat, the method comprising the steps of: installing together on the bowl the platform and the at least one raised seat; and removing from the platform the at least one raised seat, and reversing its front to back orientation before reinstalling it on the platform.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to raised toilet seats, and in particular, to seats that are easy to rise from.

2. Description of Related Art

Often, people with disabilities are not very mobile, tend to remain in a fixed position and are therefore prone to pressure sores (bedsores or decubitus). These individuals must carefully avoid having concentrated pressure applied to their skin in a way that might impair circulation and promote bedsores.

Also, Federal regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifies that compliant chairs have seats at an elevation of 17 inches of (43 cm).

The elderly or people with handicaps can have difficulty using conventional toilet seats because of their low elevation. People with weakened or impaired muscles or with paralysis will be unable to rise from these standard seats without assistance. In addition, a toilet seat designed for use by a handicapped or disabled person must be stable. In particular, lateral shifting can add a new hazard of falling due to the shifting.

Persons paralyzed from the waist down (paraplegics, as well as quadriplegics) have limitations that complicate their use of a toilet. Often, normal bowel function is impaired and must be augmented by an enema or digital stimulation. In addition, a catheter may be necessary to extract urine. Consequently, these persons will often remain on a toilet seat for a relatively long time, perhaps 20 to 60 minutes.

Paralyzed persons often have poor circulation and are therefore especially prone to pressure sores when they remain in the same seated position for even a relatively short time. Also, they will have difficulty defending against pressure sores because they typically cannot feel any of the pain normally caused by these sores. In some cases these pressure sores will lead to a more serious, deep tissue injury.

While padded toilet seats are known, they provide poor cushioning and flatten with ordinary use.

Because toilet seats are easily soiled, keeping them clean is important. Cleaning a seat in place is difficult, but removing a seat for cleaning is difficult as well. One might periodically discard a toilet seat to avoid cleaning, but replacement is time-consuming and replacement costs become burdensome.

Toilet seats in public restrooms often have a horseshoe shape, that is, they are open in front. An open front is thought to be more hygienic and is required by the Uniform Plumbing Code, which is enforced in many jurisdictions.

See U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,304,393; 2,980,922; 4,213,211; 4,477,932; and 7,093,308; as well as US Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0211004.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In accordance with the illustrative embodiments demonstrating features and advantages of the present invention, there is provided an elevated seat assembly for a toilet bowl with a front and rear. The assembly includes a stiff platform adapted to (a) rest atop the bowl, and (b) attach to the rear of the bowl. The assembly also includes a compressible, raised seat releasably attached to the stiff platform. The raised seat has a flexible upper surface.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for raising the seating on a toilet bowl. The method employs a stiff platform and one or more compressible, raised seats. The method includes the step of installing together on the bowl the platform and an original one of the one or more raised seats. The method also includes the step of removing the original one of the raised seats from the platform, leaving the platform installed on the bowl.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, there is provided a method for raising the seating on a toilet bowl. The method employs a stiff platform and at least one compressible, horseshoe-shaped raised seat. The method includes the step of installing together on the bowl the platform and the at least one raised seat. Another step is removing from the platform the at least one raised seat, and reversing its front to back orientation before reinstalling it on the platform.

By employing the foregoing apparatus and methods, an improved toilet seat is achieved having a variety of advantages. In a disclosed embodiment a stiff platform can rest atop a toilet bowl. This platform has a vertical backplate which is then attached to the rear deck of the bowl. Also, a lid is hinged to the upper edge of this backplate.

In this embodiment a compressible raised seat is releasably attached to the underlying platform. This seat has a compressible foam core lying atop a rigid panel, which are both encompassed by a flexible cover. Several fasteners in the form of internally threaded sleeves are attached to the rigid panel and project downwardly through the flexible cover. These fasteners are inserted into matching holes in the platform, and then screwed in place. In some embodiments the seat is attached by a dovetail joint or with Velcro™ material, and in the latter case a short sidewall encircles the seat to avoid lateral shifting.

This raised seat is sufficiently thick to significantly elevate a seated person, and thereby make rising from the seat easier. Also, the compressibility of the seat help avoid pressure points that can cause or exacerbate bedsores. In addition, the raised seat can be easily removed from the platform and then either discarded and replaced (saving the main body) or cleaned and reinstalled.

In another embodiment, the platform can include sliding panels that allow one to pull the seat outward before swinging it up, in order to give the user easy access to the bowl for urination.

In some embodiments the raised seat has a horseshoe shape. This seat can be installed on the platform with a conventional orientation; that is, with the gap in the horseshoe shape in front (open front). This raised seat is secured with fasteners laid in a symmetrical pattern that allows a user to reverse the front to back orientation of the seat; that is, place the gap in the horseshoe shape in the back. This rear gap facilitates manual access for providing extraordinary assistance, such as an enema or digital stimulation to induce bowel movement. For this embodiment the underlying platform can have a central opening with a rearwardly extending corridor that complements the rearwardly oriented gap in the raised seat.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above brief description as well as other objects, features and advantages of the present invention will be more fully appreciated by reference to the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments in accordance with the present invention when taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an elevated seat assembly shown installed on a toilet bowl in accordance with principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is an exploded, elevational view of the assembly of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a plan view of the raised seat of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a plan view of the platform and lid of FIG. 2 with the raised seat removed;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary, sectional view showing means for fastening the raised seat to the platform of FIG. 2;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view showing means for fastening the raised seat to the platform in a manner different from that shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of the platform of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of a platform that is an alternative to that of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is an elevational view of a seat assembly that is an alternative to those previously illustrated; and

FIG. 10 is a plan view of a seat assembly that is an alternative to those previously illustrated.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1-5, toilet bowl 10 with an opening 12 is supported on a pedestal 14. Bowl 10 has a rim 16 that merges with a rear deck 18, shown supporting toilet tank 20. Bowl 10 has a pair of well-known bolt holes (not shown) in deck 18 in the space between bowl opening 12 and toilet tank 20.

An elevated seat assembly has a compressible, raised seat 22 that is mounted atop a stiff platform 24. Seat 22 has an enhanced thickness of 2.5 to 4 inches (6.3 to 10 cm), with the greatest thickness (10 cm) illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. It is advantageous to choose a thickness that brings the top of the seat 22 to an elevation of 17 inches (43 cm), in accordance with Federal ADA regulations, although other elevations may be desirable in certain circumstances.

Seat 22 has a conventional horseshoe-shaped plan with a gap 22A, but may be a closed annulus in some embodiments. In any event, the outline of seat 22 will be consistent with standard rim profiles, which typically come in standard or extended front to back lengths.

Platform 24 has an outline matching that of seat 22. In one embodiment, platform 24 was medium density fiberboard encased in a plastic laminate, although other materials can be used such as, high density fiberboard, wood, plastic, metal, or other stiff materials. An optional gasket 36 with a matching outline is shown interposed between seat 22 and platform 24. Gasket 36 can be made of neoprene, a natural or synthetic rubber, a wax impregnated paper, or other fluid sealing means.

An optional, upright backplate 26 is attached to the rear edge of platform 24. Seat 22 is illustrated with the thicker version (10 cm), and backplate 26 will have a matching height. For embodiments having a thinner seat version (e.g. 6.3 cm) backplate 26 will have a correspondingly lower height.

Lid 28 is attached to the top edge of backplate 26 by means of hinge 30. Hinge 30 may be a piano hinge, cabinet hinge, or other types of hinges. Backplate 26 and lid 28 are typically made of the same material as platform 24.

A pair of hinge fixtures 32 (only one being visible in FIG. 2) that are attached to backplate 26 have threaded shanks 32A that are inserted through the bolt holes (not shown) in deck 18 before being secured in place with nuts 34. Any one of a variety of known fixtures for attaching a toilet seat to a bowl may be used as well.

Referring to FIG. 5, seat 22 is shown with a compressible core 22A made of a polyurethane foam, synthetic or natural rubber, fibrous batting, or other compressible material. Core 22A is shown laying atop rigid panel 22B, which may be made of medium or high density fiberboard, wood, plastic, metal, or other rigid materials. Fastener 36 is, in this embodiment, an internally threaded sleeve having a flat head 36A with tangs 36B that are embedded in panel 22B to hold this threaded coupling 36 in place.

The entire seat 22 is enclosed in a liquid-impermeable, flexible cover 22C, which may be glued and stitched at its seams to prevent fluid intrusion into core 22A. Cover 22C may be made of natural or synthetic sheet material, knit fabric with a PVC coating, or other liquid-impermeable materials.

Threaded coupling 38 protrudes through cover 22C, and will be sealed to the cover by caulk, glue, or other means for preventing fluid intrusion. Coupling 38 is shown inserted through a hole in previously mentioned gasket 36 and into a countersunk through-hole 24A in previously mentioned platform 24. (FIG. 4 shows a pattern of four holes 24A in platform 24.) Screw 40 is shown threaded into coupling 38 to hold seat 22 and gasket 36 firmly against platform 24. Accordingly, gasket 36 will prevent fluid intrusion between seat 22 and platform 24.

Once this seat assembly is installed as shown in FIG. 1, lid 28 can be placed down over seat 22 in the usual fashion, or flipped up as shown in FIG. 1. With the lid 28 up, a person can sit on seat 22, whose upper surface is at a relatively high position. Also seat 22 has a flexible upper surface provided by cover 22C, which is in turn supported by compressible core 22A.

The flexibility of cover 22A and the compressibility of core 22A provide beneficial support to the seated person. If this person is handicapped and relatively sedentary or immobile, bedsores can be a problem. The flexibility and compressibility of seat 22 avoids applying concentrated pressure at the seated person's skin, so that the possibility of bedsores is greatly reduced.

In addition, the relatively high elevation of seat 22 makes rising from the seat easier. This higher elevation places the seated person's center of gravity higher and reduces the flexing at the knees. Therefore less effort is required to rise from seat 22, which can then be done with less or no assistance.

Fluid will not directly intrude into seat 22 because the seams of cover 22C are glued or otherwise sealed. Also, cover 22C is sealed around fastener 38 to also prevent fluid intrusion. In addition, gasket 36 is an added precaution against fluid intrusion.

In any event, the outside of seat 22 may become soiled through normal usage. To ensure that seat 20 is adequately clean and hygienic, this seat may be removed by lifting platform 24 so it pivots on hinge fixture 32. Lifting platform 24 may only be feasible for the thinner seat versions. With the thicker versions, backplate 26 is relatively tall, will hit tank 21, and restrict rotation of platform 24. Assuming for now the thinner version, platform 24 can be lifted to an upright position exposing the heads of screws 40. Screws 40 are then removed and seat 22 can be lifted from platform 24.

In some cases seat 22 may be cleaned with detergent and with an antibacterial or antiseptic agent. The cleaning can be done at a sink, tub or other convenient location. In other cases seat 22 may be relatively inexpensive and simply discarded. In either case, the original or replacement seat will be installed next. So for example, seat coupling 38 may be placed in registry with and inserted into holes 24A. Thereafter, screws 40 will be threaded into couplings 38 to hold seat 22 in place.

In some embodiments the seat 22 may be covered with a disposable sheath with a topology similar to pantyhose. Specifically the sheath will have a right and left leg, both closed at the toe, and designed to fit over the right and left branch of seat 22. The “waist” of the sheath can be closed with a drawstring or just tucked between seat 22 and backplate 126. Holes may be made to accommodate fasteners 38. Alternatively, the sheath may simply be draped over seat 22 and tucked underneath to be clamped in place when the seat is attached with fasteners 38 and 40. The sheath may be made of thin plastic or a fabric laminated with a liquid-impermeable coating.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, an alternate seat assembly has seat 122 connecting to platform 124. Platform 124 is similar to the previously mentioned platform (platform 24), and has the same backplate, identified as backplate 126. Unlike the prior platform, platform 124 eliminates the screw holes (holes 24A) and replaces them with a parallel pair of dovetail slots 124A. Slots 124A run from the front tips of the two branches of platform 124 back approximately 85% of the way to backplate 126, although other lengths are contemplated.

Seat 122 is similar to the previously mentioned seat (seat 22) and has as before, a rigid panel 122B (corresponding to panel 22B of FIG. 2). Instead of the previously described threaded sleeve, the present fastener is a pair of tails 138 (one visible in FIG. 6). Tails 138 are attached to panel 122B and form the male part of a dovetail joint. Tails 138 are sized to fit in the dovetail grooves 124A in platform 124. Tails 138 are about the same length as grooves 124A. Tails 138 are typically held in place in groove 124A by friction, although in some embodiments the tails may be held by magnets, spring-biased detents, fastening pins, set screws, latches, etc.

Seat 122 can be removed for servicing or replacement, except now the seat can be removed simply by sliding it forward until tails 138 leave grooves 124A. Thus, platform 124 need not be lifted, since there is no longer any need to access screw heads on the underside of the platform. This is a significant advantage for versions where seat 122 has a substantial thickness (e g. 10 cm) and interferes with swinging the platform 124 up on its hinges.

Referring to FIG. 8, an alternative seat assembly uses a platform 224 with the same outline and general construction as the other platforms. As before, upright backplate 226 is attached to the rear edge of platform 224. However, the previously described fasteners are replaced in this case by hook and loop fasteners (e.g. Velcro™ material). Specifically, rectangular Velcro strips 242A, 242B, and 242C are placed at the right, left, and rear sections, respectively, of platform 224. A seat (not shown) similar to that previously described will be mounted atop platform 224.

It will be understood that the previously mentioned fasteners on the seat (fasteners 38 and 138) are replaced with Velcro strips in a matching pattern on the underside of the seat. The seat strips can be hook material to mate with loop material on the platform, or vice versa.

In order to provide additional stability, the border of platform 224 has an upright, curved sidewall 244 extending from one side of backplate 226, along the periphery of platform 224, to the other side of backplate 226. Sidewall 244 has a height that is about one third the height of the encompassed seat, although different heights are contemplated for the sidewall.

The seat can be removed for servicing or replacement, simply by pulling upward to release the Velcro fastening strips. Thus, platform 224 need not be swung upright, since there is no longer any need to access screw heads on the underside of the platform.

Referring to FIG. 9, the illustrated seat assembly uses a platform 324, backplate 326, and lid 328, substantially as shown in FIGS. 1-5 (i.e., platform 24, backplate 26, and lid 28). As before, backplate 326 is connected with a hinge fixture 332 to the deck of the bowl. Seat 322 is also substantially the same, but is bolted not to the platform 324, but to top panel 346. Panel 346 is connected by hinge 350 to intermediate panel 348. Panels 346 and 348 have basically the same outline as bottom panel 324 (panels 324, 346, and 348 are together referred to as a platform).

Intermediate panel 348 is mounted to slide relative to panel 324. Specifically, a right and left pair of glides 352 (one shown in FIG. 9) are mounted in parallel between panels 348 and 324. Glides 352 employ structure well-known for mounting drawers. In particular, glides 352 each have an upper runner 352A attached to the underside of panel 348 on its right and left branches. Each upper runner 352A slides in a respective lower track 352B. The lower tracks are mounted atop panel 324 on its right and left branches.

With this arrangement, intermediate panel 348 can slide outwardly over panel 324 to the position shown in FIG. 9. This brings hinge 350 sufficiently far away from backplate 326 to allow panel 346 and seat 322 to swing upwardly as shown. This position allows access to the interior of the bowl, and also to bolts on the underside of panel 346 involved in attaching or detaching seat 322.

Seat 322 and panel 346 can be swung down to rest on intermediate panel 348, at which time all of them can be slid backwardly along glides 352 for normal use. Glides 352 can have well-known detents for keeping seat 322 in the retracted position. Alternatively, panel 348 can be locked in the normal retracted position using magnets, spring-biased detents, fastening pins, set screws, latches, etc.

Referring to FIG. 10, the illustrated seat assembly has a platform 424. Components of this seat assembly corresponding to those shown in FIG. 4, have the same reference numerals but increased by 400. Again, platform 424 is attached to backplate 426. Lid 428 is attached through hinge 430 to the upper edge of backplate 426.

Fastener holes 424A are laid in the same pattern as shown previously in FIG. 4. In fact, the raised seat of FIG. 3 can be installed on platform 424 with the same orientation (i.e., gap 22E in front).

In FIG. 10 raised seat 422 is illustrated in phantom and is the same as the previously illustrated seat (seat 22 of FIGS. 1-5). However in this case, seat 422 is installed with its front to back orientation reversed relative to that shown in FIG. 1. Specifically, gap 422E is placed in the rear, adjacent to backplate 426.

Platform 424 has between its right and left branches a central opening 424B with a rear corridor 424C in substantial registry with seat gap 422E. Corridor 424C leaves a narrow bridge 424D between the right and left branches of platform 424, although in some embodiments corridor 424C extends fully and cleaves platform 424 into two separate branches.

Platform 424 can be installed on a toilet bowl as before. Furthermore, seat 422 can be installed as shown in FIG. 1, that is, with gap 422E in front. Thus, the arrangement of FIG. 10 can be used in the same manner as previously described in connection with FIGS. 1-5.

However, the arrangement of FIG. 10 offers the option of removing seat 422 and reinstalling it with a reversed orientation, that is, with gap 422E in the back. This reversed orientation, together with the rear corridor 424C, provides additional manual access. In particular one can use this additional access for administering an enema or applying digital stimulation to induce bowel movement. Accordingly, the front to rear orientation can be a quickly changed to accommodate different users.

It is appreciated that various modifications may be implemented with respect to the above described embodiments. While the seat was shown fastened by screws, dovetail joints, or hook and loop fasteners, in other embodiments the fastening can be performed by magnets, snaps, adhesives, etc. The foregoing toilet had a tank but the disclosed seat assembly can be used for toilets without a tank or with a tank located differently. The disclosed platform was connected to the bowl by a hinge fixture, but in some cases the hinge feature can be eliminated. In other cases the hinge fixture can be replaced with a quick release latch to allow switching from one seat assembly to another having a different size or to a standard seat. Furthermore, the support provided by these fixtures can be supplemented by providing under the platform a skirt or stubs that bear against the inside of the rim of the bowl. The disclosed backplate can be a solid panel or a frame composed of a number of distinct bars or struts.

Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in light of the above teachings. It is therefore to be understood that within the scope of the appended claims, the invention may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described.