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Publication numberUS20010027577 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/767,766
Publication dateOct 11, 2001
Filing dateJan 22, 2001
Priority dateJun 7, 1995
Publication number09767766, 767766, US 2001/0027577 A1, US 2001/027577 A1, US 20010027577 A1, US 20010027577A1, US 2001027577 A1, US 2001027577A1, US-A1-20010027577, US-A1-2001027577, US2001/0027577A1, US2001/027577A1, US20010027577 A1, US20010027577A1, US2001027577 A1, US2001027577A1
InventorsLarry Frydman
Original AssigneeFrydman Larry G.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Orthopedic support pillow
US 20010027577 A1
Abstract
A stress reducing device is defined by a dual use orthopedic pillow having a low density polyurethane foam outer region, a high density polyurethane foam middle region that are provided in removably attachable layers, so that the size of the device may be adjusted to accommodate different sizes and preferences of individual users. The pillow advantageously includes leg clasps for securely engaging the inner thighs of an individual in a side lying position defined by a stem and a pair of crescent shaped buttresses. The buttresses resist rotation to the prone and supine lying positions. The high density foam within the stem separates the knees to reduce spinal stress. Advantageously, a supine sleeping position is aided by positioning said pillow under the legs to flatten out the spine while supporting the legs at the thigh and calf regions.
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Claims(25)
What is claimed is:
1. A stress reducing device for use by an individual while in a side lying position, said device comprising:
a pair of buttresses, each having a convex side and a concave side;
an elongated stem connected to said buttresses between said concave sides;
said device including a plurality of layers adapted to fasten to each other and to said buttresses and stems;
said buttresses and stem forming respective C-shaped leg clasps on opposite sides of said stem;
said leg clasps, each having a pair of resilient lips having an elastic characteristic to allow said lips to be spread apart in response to a predetermined force;
such that said lips of each of said clasps may be separated to receive legs of an individual within the respective clasps, and release of said force allowing said lips to securely engage said legs within respective clasps.
2. A stress reducing device for use by an individual while in a side lying position, said device comprising:
a pair of buttresses, each having a convex side and a concave side;
an elongated stem connected to said buttresses between said concave sides;
said buttresses and stem forming respective C-shaped leg clasps on opposite sides of said stem;
said leg clasps, each having a pair of resilient lips having an elastic characteristic to allow said lips to be spread apart in response to a predetermined force;
such that said lips of each of said clasps may be separated to receive legs of an individual within the respective clasps, and release of said force allowing said lips to securely engage said legs within respective clasps.
3. The stress reducing device of
claim 2
, wherein:
said stem includes a low density compressible out layer for contacting said thighs and a center region having a high density compression resistant inner layer such that when said stem is positioned between said legs, respective knees of said legs are positioned in spaced apart overlying relation.
4. The stress reducing device of
claim 3
, wherein:
said buttresses have a volume and density characteristic such that when said legs are secured in said clasps, said buttresses positioned against the front side and back side of the individual resist rotation by the individual to the spine and prone positions.
5. A stress reducing device for use by an individual while in a side lying or supine position, said device comprising:
a compression resistant mat having a pair generally rectangular shaped surfaces;
a first and second outer layer connected to respective surfaces of said mat;
said outer layers, each having an outer surface including a lengthwise concave channel along said outer surface;
a pair of leg clasps formed in respective outer layers defined by outwardly facing widthwise C-shaped channels located at the lengthwise median.
6. A stress reducing pillow for use by an individual while in a sideling or supine position, the device comprising:
a first and second outer surface, each including a lengthwise concave channel along said outer surface;
a pair of leg clasps formed in respective outer layers defined by outwardly facing widthwise C-shaped channels located at the lengthwise median;
a first and second end; each having a convex shaped surface; and
a flat planar side walls, each extending between said ends and outer surfaces.
7. A stress reducing pillow for use by an individual while in a side lying or supine position, the device comprising:
a first and second outer surface, each including a lengthwise concave channel along said outer surface;
a pair of leg clasps formed in respective outer layers defined by outwardly facing widthwise C-shaped channels located at the lengthwise median.
a first and second end, each end having a convex shaped surface;
flat planar side walls, each extending between said ends and outer surfaces; and
a detachable layer removably attached to said first outer surface, removably attached to said second outer surface and positioned between said first and said second outer surfaces.
8. A stress reducing device for use by an individual between the legs and along the left thigh and along the right thigh of the individual while in a side lying position, said device comprising:
a pair of buttresses, each having a convex side and a concave side;
an elongated stem connected to said buttresses between said concave sides;
said buttresses and stem forming respective C-shaped leg clasps on opposite sides of said stem;
each of said leg clasps having a pair of resilient lips formed by intersecting the convex and concave sides of the buttresses and having an elastic characteristic to allow said lips to be spread apart in response to a predetermined force;
such that, upon said lips being spread apart by said force, said clasps are adapted to receive the legs of the individual, and, upon release of said force, allowing said lips to return together thereby securely engaging the legs within respective clasps and resisting rotation of the individual to supine and prone positions.
9. A pillow made of a foam material, having a length, a height and a width dimension comprising:
a first side wall extending along the length dimension and along the height dimension;
a second side wall extending along the length dimension and along the height dimension;
a first C-shaped channel extending across the pillow in the width dimension from the first side wall to the second side wall, having an arc of curvature greater than 180° and open in a first direction;
a second C-shaped channel extending across the pillow in the width dimension from the first side wall to the second side wall, having an arc of curvature greater than 180° and open m in a direction opposite the open direction of the first channel;
a first buttress extending across the pillow in the width dimension from the first side wall to the second side wall and having an elliptical arc of curvature greater than 180°;
a second buttress extending across the pillow in the width dimension from the first side wall to the second side wall and having an elliptical arc of curvature greater than 180°;
said first buttress having an elliptical arc of curvature which intersects with the first C-shaped channel arc of curvature and with the second C-shaped channel arc of curvature to form a first resilient edge at the first C-shaped channel and a second resilient edge at the second C-shaped channel;
said second buttress having an elliptical arc of curvature which intersects with the first C-shaped channel arc of curvature and with the second C-shaped channel arc of curvature to form a third resilient edge at the first C-shaped channel and a fourth resilient edge at the second C-shaped channel;
the of intersection of the elliptical arc of curvature of the first buttress with the arcs of curvature of the first and second C-shaped channels and the intersection of the elliptical arc of curvature of the second buttress with the arcs of curvature of the first and second C-shaped channels lie between a first plane tangent to both the first C-shaped channel and the second C-shaped channel and a second plane tangent to both the first C-shaped channel and the second C-shaped channel;
the first buttress contains the first plane tangent to both the first and second C-shaped channels; and
the second buttress contains the second plane tangent to both the first and second C-shaped channels.
10. The pillow of
claim 9
further including at least one groove interrupting the surface of the first C-shaped channel and extending along the width dimension.
11. The pillow of
claim 9
further including at least one groove interrupting the surface of the second C-shaped channel and extending along the width dimension.
12. The pillow of
claim 9
wherein the elliptical arcs of curvature of the first buttress and of the second buttress are defined by ellipses having major axis of equal or different lengths.
13. The pillow of
claim 9
wherein the elliptical arcs of curvature of the first buttress and of the second buttress are defined by ellipses having equal or different eccentricity.
14. The pillow of
claim 9
wherein the pillow is formed in a first section, a second section and in a third section;
the first section including the first C-shaped channel and a first surface opposite the open direction of the first C-shaped channel;
the second section including the second C-shaped channel and a second surface opposite the open direction of the second C-shaped channel;
the third section having a predetermined height and having the same length and width as the first section and the second section;
the third section adjacent and fixedly connected to said first surface of the first section;
the third section adjacent and fixedly connected to said second surface of the second section.
15. The pillow of
claim 9
wherein the pillow is formed in a first section, a second section and in a third section;
the first section including the first C-shaped channel and a first surface opposite the open direction of the first C-shaped channel, said first surface including a third channel;
the second section including the second C-shaped channel and a second surface opposite the open direction of the second C-shaped channel, said second surface including a protrusion adapted to fit within and conform to the third channel whereby the first section may be detachably connected to the second section;
the third section having a predetermined height dimension, a surface including a protrusion adapted to fit within and conform to the third channel whereby the third section may be detachably connected to the first section, and a surface having a fourth channel of the same shape as the third channel, whereby the third section may be detachably connected to the second section.
16. The pillow of
claim 14
or
claim 15
wherein the foam of the third section is more dense than the foam of the first section.
17. The pillow of
claim 14
or
claim 15
wherein the foam of the third section is more dense than the foam of the second section.
18. The pillow of
claim 9
,
claim 14
, or
claim 15
including:
the first C-shaped channel having a predetermined surface;
a cavity provided in the surface of the first C-shaped channel;
said cavity being adapted to receive an inlay;
said inlay being adapted to be disposed in said cavity and to conform to the predetermined surface of the first C-shaped channel; and
said inlay being fixedly disposed in said cavity.
19. The pillow of
claim 9
,
claim 14
, or
claim 15
including:
the second C-shaped channel having a predetermined surface;
a cavity provided in the surface of the second C-shaped channel;
said cavity being adapted to receive an inlay;
said inlay being adapted to be disposed in said cavity and to conform to the predetermined surface of the second C-shaped channel; and
said inlay being fixedly disposed in said cavity.
20. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
wherein the inlay is soft viscoelastic memory foam.
21. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
wherein the exposed surface of the inlay is convoluted.
22. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
including a medial plane extending along the length dimension and along the width dimension and further including a groove in the first side wall positioned in the medial plane.
23. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
including a medial plane extending along the length dimension and along the width dimension and further including a groove in the second side wall positioned in the medial plane.
24. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
including a medial plane extending along the length dimension and along the width dimension and further including a groove in the first buttress positioned in the medial plane.
25. The pillow of
claim 18
or
claim 19
including a medial plane extending along the length dimension and along the width dimension and further including a groove in the second buttress positioned in the medial plane.
Description

[0001] This is a continuation-in-part of pending application Ser. No. 09/573,012, filed May 17, 2000, which is a continuation of U.S. Pat. No. 6,154,905 which was a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 08/999,372, filed Dec. 29, 1997, now abandoned, which was a continuation of application Ser. No. 08/480,581, filed Jun. 7, 1995, now abandoned.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The present invention relates to orthopedic support devices for minimizing spinal stress while an individual is in the lying position. More particularly the present invention relates to an orthopedic support device that bolsters, i.e., supports the back of the legs of an individual lying on his/her back and additionally maintains spinal support for an individual when lying on his/her side; and to adjustable orthopedic support pillows which can be varied and customized to support the individual's needs.

[0004] 2. Description of Prior Art

[0005] Spinal related complaints are very common. In fact, back pain is the second most common complaint (behind the common cold) for visits to the family doctor. Proper spinal support (whether related to the lower back, upper back or neck) has been a concern for decades. This has resulted in a significant variety of products designed to provide greater comfort and support.

[0006] The majority of these products were designed for 95 percentile of the population. As all individuals vary anatomically, and when combining this factor with individual and personal preference, the varying possibilities would render customization to all individuals to be not practical. Methods of customization for both the cervical and lumbar spine have been attempted, as discussed below. However, these vary from intricate systems of support that are either adjustable through an inflatable means, fluid filled or even a combination of self attachment through the use of hook and loop fastening devices, zippers and strapping. All of these methods although effective, would be extremely costly from a manufacturing standpoint. None of these products, whether designed to support the cervical or lumbar spine, ever considered the specific needs of the individual user. For all of the above reasons, a need exists for an orthopedic support pillow that is capable of being customized to the individuals needs as opposed to the individual conforming to the product.

[0007] The present invention overcomes many of the problems of the prior art in that it provides a capability for customization of an orthopedic support pillow to fit the individuals needs, without the use of accessory application devices such as hook and loop, elastic bands, zippers and/or straps.

[0008] It is generally known that maintaining proper posture of the spine helps to prevent the occurrence of spinal injury and back pain. The preferred proper spinal posture in all daily sitting and upright activities includes a slight lordotic curve in the lumbar region of the spine, or what is known as the “neutral spine” position in lay terms. That is the spinal position where all stress on the spine is minimized to allow the spine to rest in its naturally curved position. For example, it is commonly known that when lifting heavy objects, an individual should use their knees to lift such objects and that the back should be maintained in the neutral spine position to alleviate any potential stress to the spine which can lead to back pain.

[0009] With the recent, increasing interest in ergonomics and in prevention of repetitive trauma injuries in the work place, sleep ergonomics has been for the most part neglected. On the average of ⅓ of most individuals' lives is spent partaking in this form of activity. One must appreciate the necessity that merely lying down is not sufficient for spinal stress reduction and thus proper sleep postural maintenance is paramount for complete and comfortable rest.

[0010] For years it has been recommended that proper sleep posture would entail avoiding the prone position, simply due to the aggravated stress on the lumbar spine (from accentuation of the lordotic curve) and as well the rotational positioning of the cervical spine could lead to neck pathomechanics over time. The supine position was promoted, however, without the appropriate flexion at the knee the lumbar lordotic curve was as well accentuated. In other words, when lying on the backside, it is natural for the legs to lie flat on the sleeping surface. In this manner the legs cooperate with the buttocks to act as a lever raising the lumbar region of the spine thereby causing an unnatural accentuation of the lordotic curve that may result in stress on the spine as well. In order to alleviate this stress caused by the legs, it is preferred that an individual sleep with the knees bent. This sleeping position reduces the stress on the lumbar region of the spine and allows the spine to rest flatly against the mattress or other sleeping surface. However, without some type of leg support, the natural tendency of the knees is to flatten out.

[0011] Lying on one's side is another preferred sleep position. However, without the appropriate support, the lumbar spine has a tendency to be affected by rotational stresses due to torquing factors between the upper and lower body. In the side lying position, the legs of the individual are generally maintained in an overlying relationship with each other. Positioning the legs in this manner at the mattress along one side of the body causes the body to compensate for this position which may result in stress on the spine. In order to minimize these stresses one must be knowledgeable of both human anatomy as well as physical forces acting on the spine. Simply relieving gravitational stress from the spine is insufficient to reduce spinal stress and strain to the point of eliminating it.

[0012] Several devices have been proposed to alleviate stress on the spine of an individual while sleeping. Such devices include large pillows or other supporting devices placed between the upper thighs of an individual to maintain a side lying position. These pillows extend out and away from the front and back sides of the individual to block, or prevent the individual from rolling over. Such devices are well known in the art and a variety of such pillows are available. One problem associated with these devices arises from the natural tendency of people to roll or shift positions while sleeping. Such movement can cause these pillows to shift or move from the preferred position in-between the individuals legs thereby defeating the purpose of the pillow or causing the sleeper to awaken and re-adjust the pillow. Some side lying devices have over come this problem by adding straps to secure the pillow to the thighs. However, it is not desirable to secure the pillow in this manner especially if a fire or other emergency occurred. Thus the need exists for an orthopedic support pillow that maintains support between the legs for a sleeper lying in a side lying position, but which can easily be removed.

[0013] In addition, it is desirable to have an orthopedic device as described above that could also support the back sides of the legs to maintain a bend in the knees of an individual while lying in the supine position. Such a dual capability would allow an individual to select a comfortable sleeping position while helping to alleviate stress on the spine. Thus the need exists for an orthopedic device that relieves spinal stress and strain either when an individual is lying on his/her side or back, and provides for a selection of individual sleep positions.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0014] A primary object of the present invention is provide a flexible lower limb support device which can be utilized in order to support and assist an individual to lying in either the supine or side lying positions.

[0015] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a flexible lower limb support device which will inhibit an individual from lying in the prone position.

[0016] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a flexible lower limb support device which can maintain the normal anatomical position of the lower limbs when side lying in order to minimize stress on the lumbar spine, sacroiliac joints and femoral acetabular joints.

[0017] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a flexible lower limb support device which will assist an individual lying supine by minimizing the lumbar lordotic curve.

[0018] Another object of the present invention is to provide leg secure engagement of the device to the inner thighs of the individual for uninterrupted sleep while in a side lying position.

[0019] These and other objects of the present invention are attained by providing lower limb support device which is, generally, biconcave in lengthwise design and consists of two outer layers of lower density polyurethane foam and a middle layer of higher density polyurethane foam. The opposing outer layers are contour cut to provide two widthwise channels traversing opposing upper and lower outer layers of the device. The channels, forming C-shaped clasps, universally contour and support an individual's thighs as well as the upper border of the knee joints by maintaining them in the normal anatomical position.

[0020] Several of the embodiments described herein incorporate three forms of orthopedic support cushions which are utilized on different regions. All three of these pillows are customizable via a tongue and groove attachment where the individual components of the support cushion can be either added to or subtracted from other components create the customization desired and necessary for the individual user.

[0021] The first alternate embodiment includes a cervical pillow, which is contoured by having two buttress of unequal dimension placed linearly at either end of the pillow. Vertically the pillow is made up three layers such that it's height can be customized to an individual physical and therapeutic needs. These layers are connected to one another via a tongue and groove locking mechanism which fastens the layers to one another in series.

[0022] This tongue and groove mechanism consists of a (mushroom like) male projection and negative impression, female conduit. The male projection comprises of a head which is connected to a shaft. The diameter of the shaft is somewhat narrower (and is positioned axially to the head) than the diameter of the head resulting in the lateral borders of the head protruding symmetrically laterally.

[0023] The female conduit is a negative impression of the male projection and is comprised of a head receiving area and stem receiving area.

[0024] In application, large individuals (larger 10% of population) would require all three layers in position in order to provide support for the natural curvature of their cervical spine. The average individual (average height and weight) would only require two layers and at the smaller end of the scale, slight individuals would only require a single layer of support.

[0025] These variances are broad spectrum, and additional consideration to choice of a specific number of layers would involve consideration of multiple other factors, e.g., whether the individual is predominantly a stomach or side sleeper, types of inherent deformity to the spinal curvature, and, most importantly the, individualized preference.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

[0026] Other objects and advantages of the invention will become apparent from the forgoing detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0027]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of the side support pillow device of the present invention;

[0028]FIG. 2 is a side view of the side support pillow having top and bottom leg clasps;

[0029]FIG. 3 is a top view of the side support pillow;

[0030]FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the side support pillow being used while an individual is in the side lying position with her thighs securely engaged within the respective clasps;

[0031]FIG. 5 is a perspective view of the side support pillow being used while an individual is lying in the supine position;

[0032]FIG. 6 is a front view of the side support pillow; and

[0033]FIG. 7 is a side view of the side support pillow having top and bottom leg clasps forced apart for placement between the legs.

[0034]FIG. 8 is a perspective, exploded view taken from the front and to the side of an alternate embodiment showing a three layered, tongue and groove support pillow embodiment of the present invention.

[0035]FIG. 9 is a side view of the support pillow having widthwise grooves formed in the leg clasping channels.

[0036]FIG. 10 is a side view of the support pillow having inlays disposed in the leg clasping channels.

[0037]FIG. 11 is a side view of the support pillow having widthwise grooves formed in the leg clasping channels and grooves formed in the perimeter of the support pillow at the medial plane.

[0038]FIG. 12 is a side view of the support pillow having grooves formed in the perimeter of the support pillow at the medial plane.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0039] As shown in the drawings for purposes of illustration, the invention is generally embodied in a foam pillow 20, shown in FIGS. 1-3, comprised of two outer cushioning layers 22 and 24 of resilient foam material joined along inner surfaces 23,25, respectively to opposite surfaces of a high density foam mat 26. The outer surface 28 of each cushioning layer, generally rectangular in shape from a top view as shown in FIG. 3, includes a concave shaped surface (FIGS. 1 and 6) forming a valley 30 bounded by side walls 32 and 34 rounded at respective peaks extending lengthwise dimension “l”, as shown in FIG. 1 along the respective sides 36 and 38 of the pillow. Included within each cushion layer 22,24 (FIGS. 1-3) traversing the lengthwise median on opposite sides of the inner mat are opposing C-shaped channels 40 and 42 extending in a widthwise dimension “w”, as shown in FIG. 1, forming outwardly-facing, leg clasps.

[0040] Thus, configured the pillow presents the appearance of two crescent-shaped buttresses 44 and 46 extending along the width wise dimension w and from top to bottom along a height dimension “h”, as shown in FIG. 1, each formed with two outer convex surfaces 48A, 48B extending in an elliptical arc about an axis L1, L2, each defined by a focus of the elliptical arc and each of which extend through the inside of the pillow as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The C-shaped channels have four edges as shown at 56A, 56B, 56C, and 56D in FIGS. 1 and 2. Each of these four edges 56A, 56B, 56C and 56D are formed at the intersection of the two ends of the arcs of each of the two end surfaces 48A, 48B with the two ends of the arcs of each of the two channels 40, 42, at the ends of their inwardly facing surfaces 50A, 50B. The four edges 56A, 56B, 56C and 56D extend along the pillow in the width wise direction w, to form resilient fingers which perform a clasping function as described in greater detail below. A central stem 52, shown in FIG. 2 as lying within the region bounded by the dashed lines 53A, 53B and having convex-shaped elliptical arcs of curvature as shown at 54A, 54B, connects between the two crescent shaped buttresses and form the two surfaces 50A, 50B. The pillow, thus formed, when standing end-to-end is bi-laterally symmetric about the lengthwise plane formed by the central mat 26. The C-shaped channels each have an elliptical cross-sectional shape with the major axis of each channel 55A, 55B being parallel to the lengthwise median. The channels extend across the pillow in the width direction w, with one channel open to the top in the height dimension and one channel open to the bottom, as shown in FIG. 1. As also shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the arc of curvature of each of the C-shaped channels is greater than 180°, extends along the width dimension and appears to be like the letter “C” rotated 90° so that one channel, 40 is open upward, and the other, opposed channel 42 is open downward. Each of the outer surfaces 48A, 48B has a cross-sectional shape of that of a portion of an ellipse, with the focus of each ellipse in the median and defining an axis of rotation L1, L2. The outer surfaces 48A, 48B also extend across the pillow in the width direction w, have an arc of curvature greater than 180°, so that the arc of curvature of end 48A is open toward the interior of the pillow, i.e., to the right as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, and the arc of curvature of end 48B is open toward the interior of the pillow, i.e., to the left as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. In FIG. 2, the four edges 56A, 56B, 56C and 56D lie between a first plane T1 tangent to surface 50A of C-shaped channel 40 and tangent to surface 50B of C-shaped channel 42, and a second plane T2 tangent to surface 50A of C-shaped channel 40 and tangent to surface 50B of C-shaped channel 42. As further shown in FIG. 2, the first plane T1 passes through the first buttress 44, and the second plane T2 passes through the second buttress 46. By being greater than 180°, the arcs of curvature of the ends 48A, 48B extend beyond the points of tangency at which planes T1 and T2 are tangent to the arcs of curvature of surfaces 50A and 50B, and provide the structure of the resilient fingers for clasping the thighs of the user.

[0041] The central mat 26 provides a stiff center layer lengthwise through the center of the pillow 20, bounded on opposite sides by a comfortable outer layer 22 and 24 for contacting the legs of an individual. The foam pillow outer material 22 and 24 is preferably made from low density polyurethane foam of the type manufactured using conventional techniques for foam sleeping pillows. The inner layer or mat 26 is preferably made from high density polyurethane foam of the type manufactured using conventional techniques for foam gymnastic or camping floor mats. These layers may then be molded together using conventional glue or heat bonding techniques.

[0042] In use, the pillow 20 of the preferred embodiment can be used to reduce spinal stress while in the side lying and supine sleeping positions. When used for the side lying sleeping position (FIG. 4), the inner thighs 55 of an individual are placed within the respective clasps 40 and 42 of the pillow. Each clasp 40 and 42 includes deformable, resilient lips 56 (FIG. 7) which when forced to spread apart, as illustrated by force lines 58, provide an opening for receipt of an individual's thigh 55. The lips 56, when released return to their original position in engagement thereby hugging the respective thigh in a secure, universally-contoured engagement. The low density foam material securely maintains the pillow 20 between the thighs 55 throughout the sleep period by resisting disengagement from tossing and turning by the individual without any discomfort due to the containment of the thighs within the respective clasps. Once in place (FIG. 4), the crescent shaped buttresses 44 and 46 extend out from the front and back sides of the individual respectively. The bulk of the buttresses 44 and 46 supported by the rigidity of the inner mat 26 are of sufficient size and rigidity to resist the desire of the sleeping individual to roll over onto the prone or supine positions. The stem 52, secured between the thighs and further supported by the rigid compression resistant mat 26, produces a gap between the thighs 55, thereby resisting the natural tendency of the upper knee 60 to lie on top of the lower knee 62. The gap between the knee, preferably 2-4 inches, relieves the torsional stress on the spine created by the undesired rotation of the upper leg. Thus, the pillow 20 used in the side lying position, not only prevents rotation by the individual into an undesirable prone position, but also reduces spinal stress while in the side lying position by displacing the upper knee 60 in spaced apart relation to the lower knee 62.

[0043] Similarly, when used for sleeping in the supine position (FIG. 5), the individual's legs extend traversely widthwise across one of the concave outer surfaces 30 of the pillow. The bulk of the pillow further enhanced by the compression resistant mat 26 causes the knees 60 and 62 to bend at an obtuse angle to accommodate the pillow 20 there under. With the knees bent, the lordotic curve of the spine is reduced or eliminated thereby allowing the lower spine to rest against the mattress or sleeping surface 64. Once again the outer layers 22 and 24 of the pillow compress and universally contour fit the shape of the individual's legs and underlying sleeping surface. Although compressed, the pillow does not uniformly support the back sides of the legs. Instead, the side walls 32 and 34 (FIGS. 5 and 6), created by the concave upper and lower surfaces having a stylized H-shape when viewed from an end, compress to a greater thickness than the middle valley portions 30 of the upper and lower surfaces 28. This non-uniform distribution of compression, ensures that bolstered knee is supported mainly by the backsides of the thigh 55 and calf 66. This reduces any direct pressure against the back of the knees 60 and 62 which is undesirable. Thus, the pillow 20 when used in the supine position reduces spinal stress by flattening out the spine, while supporting the knees 60 and 62 by the preferred backsides of the thigh 55 and calf 66 regions.

[0044] With reference to FIG. 8, an alternate embodiment illustrates an effective and preferred structure and method of customization for a between-the-knee support device 80 which solves the problem of variation between various sizes and personal choice of individuals.

[0045] Ideally the body should rest in the natural anatomical position. The natural anatomical position as defined and pertaining to the lower limb is identified with the medial malleoli (ankles) separated by 7 inches and the medial condyles of the knees (inner border of the knee joint) separated by 4 inches. Variations from this norm creates abnormal strain on the femoral acetabular joint and the sacroiliac joints respectively.

[0046] The pillow of the present invention should be used in the side lying position where an individual can adjust the distance between opposing knees by either varying the thickness or density of the “stem” 82 thus maintaining the normal anatomical position. The diameter of the leg clasps should stay constant despite varying the diameter of the stem.

[0047] Increasing the diameter of the stem (for larger individuals) would also necessitate increasing the general height of the bumpers 84 in order provide enough rotational support to prevent the individual from rolling into the prone position while sleeping. This alteration in diameter of height of both the stem 82 and bumpers 84 can be attained by either adding or removing part of the material making up the product. This would allow the general shape of the product to maintained however the size (more specifically the height) would become variable. This would maintain the functionality of the product and yet allow customization for the individuals needs.

[0048] Adding and removing material to alter the general height of the product can be easiest attained by creating segments or layers, one of which is shown at 86. These layers whether added or removed would completely functional as different entities. Therefore the product is divided into two components. The upper and lower body contact regions and the functional components 88 and 90, respectively (“FC”) and removable layers are the adjustable components (“AC”) one of which is shown at 86.

[0049] An important feature is that the functional components 88, 90 act as solitary components regardless of the activity of the adjustable component(s) 86. Thus the FC 88, 90 must be connected by some structure, either directly or indirectly (interrupted by the AC) to the opposing FC. Various structures for creating this adhesion may be used, e.g., Velcro (hook and loop) fasteners, strapping, webbing and/or elastic fasteners. The preferred structure and method would employ the structure of the FC and AC so that they would connect to one another in series whether the AC is engaged or disengaged.

[0050] This preferred connection can be attained by providing either a singular or plurality of male projections and female conduits which would fasten the two FC's together, whether the FC's were either connected to one another directly, or indirectly connected through one or more of the AC's 86, thus allowing assembled support pillow to function as a solitary unit.

[0051] By connecting these components through a series of male projections and female layer 86, a high degree of customization is made possible with minimum additional structure and minimum to no loss of structural integrity of the pillow.

[0052] It is emphasized that the AC 86 can vary in number, as well as thickness of each layer 86. The principles of the present invention can also be used to provide various additional components to the cushion, e.g., different sized bumpers, various sizes for the leg clasps and so forth.

[0053] As shown in FIG. 9, a further preferred embodiment of pillow 20 includes one or more groove(s) 90 disposed in C-shaped channels 40 and 42 extending along the width dimension, the depth of which groove(s) 90 does not reach the medial plane. Groove(s) 90 permits expansion of the leg engaging area to better facilitate proper placement of pillow 20 between the legs of the user. As also shown in FIG. 9, by use of elliptical surfaces 48A and 48B, the cusps of clasp forming C-shaped channels 40 and 42 are elongated to contact a greater circumference of the thigh of the user thus providing increased surface contact area resulting in enhanced resistance to dislodging pillow 20 during normal sleep.

[0054] Referring to FIG. 10, another alternative embodiment illustrates an effective and preferred structure of the orthopedic support pillow 20 which solves the problem of increased sensitivity to contact which may occur in some individuals, particularly, for example, those who suffer from Osteoarthritis of the knees. In this embodiment, a layer of soft foam, ViscoElastic Memory Foam being preferred, is incorporated into the leg engaging area of the pillow, thereby providing both support and added comfort. As shown in FIG. 10, cavity 92 is formed in surface 50A and cavity 94 is formed in surface 50B, of C-shaped channels 40 and 42, respectively. Cavities 92 and 94 extend across pillow 20 in the width dimension w and along the length dimension l in the region between planes T1 and T2. The cavities 92 and 94 further are shaped and adapted to receive soft foam inlays 96 and 98, respectively. Each inlay 96 and 98 is adapted such that its exterior surface conforms to the shape that surfaces 50A and 50B, respectively, of the C-shaped channels 40 and 42 would have had cavities 92 and 94 not been formed. Further, the exterior surface of inlays 96 and 98 may be smooth or convoluted.

[0055] Another effective and preferred embodiment, shown in FIGS. 11 and 12, is a structure of the orthopedic pillow 20 having a continuous or interrupted groove 91 along the perimeter of pillow 20, extending in the bisecting medial plane of the pillow formed along the length dimension l and the width dimension w. Said perimeter groove(s) 91 assist in grasping and proper placement of the pillow 20 by users whose dexterity may be impaired, as by Osteoarthritis.

[0056] It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art, that a variety of sizes will be available to accommodate the diverse range of human forms. Such sizes will need to consider the size of the buttress in relation to the size and weight of the individual. In addition, the size of the leg clasps will need to adjust to variances in thigh diameter.

[0057] While the present invention has been described in connection with what are presently considered to be the most practical and preferred embodiments, it is to be understood that the invention is not to be limited to the disclosed embodiments, but to the contrary, is intended to cover various modifications and equivalent arrangements included within the spirit of the invention, which are set forth in the appended claims, and which scope is to be accorded the broadest interpretation so as to encompass all such modifications and equivalent structures.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6578218 *Dec 7, 2001Jun 17, 2003Tempur World, Inc.Leg spacer pillow
US7246389 *Feb 14, 2003Jul 24, 2007Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.Adjustable bed
US7461894Nov 20, 2006Dec 9, 2008Nightgear LlcSeating accessory
US7634828 *Jun 7, 2007Dec 22, 2009Basim ElhabashySurgical lateral positioning pillow
US7731282Oct 14, 2008Jun 8, 2010Nightgear LlcSeating accessory
US7731283Jan 26, 2009Jun 8, 2010Nightgear LlcSeating accessory
US7789461Jan 20, 2009Sep 7, 2010Nightgear LlcSeating accessory
US7917403Mar 27, 2007Mar 29, 2011Nightgear LlcSeating accessory
US20120180219 *Jan 13, 2012Jul 19, 2012Mark Vincent RiccabonaAnatomically-correct support systems and methods for a reclining person
US20130326815 *Jun 11, 2013Dec 12, 2013Renee Smart-ThomasI-shaped pillow to maintain hairstyle
WO2008095207A1 *Jan 25, 2008Aug 7, 2008Leon Yehuda PeretzComponents and an arrangement thereof which aid a user to sleep
Classifications
U.S. Classification5/648
International ClassificationA47C20/02, A47C20/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47C20/021
European ClassificationA47C20/02D