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Publication numberUS20020169401 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/186,156
Publication dateNov 14, 2002
Filing dateJun 27, 2002
Priority dateMay 3, 2000
Also published asUS6458090, WO2001082827A2, WO2001082827A3
Publication number10186156, 186156, US 2002/0169401 A1, US 2002/169401 A1, US 20020169401 A1, US 20020169401A1, US 2002169401 A1, US 2002169401A1, US-A1-20020169401, US-A1-2002169401, US2002/0169401A1, US2002/169401A1, US20020169401 A1, US20020169401A1, US2002169401 A1, US2002169401A1
InventorsLionel Walpin
Original AssigneeWalpin Lionel A.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Multi-positional support device
US 20020169401 A1
Abstract
A multi-positional support device, one use being to provide the head, neck, and cervical spine of a patient with rest, support, and kinesthetic input in various degrees of head and neck rotation, without causing discomfort to the patient or tilting the patient's head. An embodiment of the present invention comprises an elongate member, a first end, a second end, and a body extending between said first and second ends, said elongate member further comprising a first contoured surface, said first contoured surface comprising a plurality of first surface recesses. Each of said first and second ends may have a depth that is larger than the depth of said body of said elongate member.
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Claims(49)
What is claimed is:
1. A support, comprising:
an elongate member, said elongate member further comprising:
a first end;
a second end;
a body extending between said first end and said second end, said body having a depth; and
a first contoured surface, said first contoured surface comprising a plurality of first surface recesses;
wherein each of said first end and said second end has a depth that is larger than said depth of said body of said elongate member.
2. The support of claim 1, wherein each of said first and second ends has an enlarged portion that is substantially triangular.
3. The support of claim 1, wherein each of said first and second ends has an enlarged portion that is substantially rectangular.
4. The support of claim 1, wherein each of said first and second ends has an enlarged portion that is substantially trapezoidal.
5. The support of claim 1, wherein each of said first and second ends has an enlarged portion that has an irregular shape.
6. The support of claim 1, further comprising a second contoured surface, said second contoured surface comprising a plurality of second surface recesses.
7. The support of claim 6, wherein said first surface recesses are located at positions offset from said second surface recesses.
8. The support of claim 1, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to said first end, and a second portion of said fastener secured to said second end.
9. The support of claim 8, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said second end.
10. The support of claim 8, wherein said fastener comprises a Velcro closure.
11. The support of claim 8, wherein said fastener comprises a snap-button closure.
12. The support of claim 1, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to a frontal surface of said elongate member in close proximity to said first end, and a second portion of said fastener secured to said frontal surface of said elongate member in close proximity to said second end.
13. The support of claim 12, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said frontal surface of said elongate member in close proximity to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said frontal surface of said elongate member in close proximity to said second end.
14. The support of claim 1, wherein said elongate member comprises a flexible polyurethane foam.
15. The support of claim 1, wherein said elongate member comprises a plastic.
16. The support of claim 1, wherein said elongate member further comprises an inner core to provide support.
17. The support of claim 16, wherein said inner core comprises a bladder containing a media.
18. The support of claim 17, wherein said media is a liquid.
19. The support of claim 17, wherein said media is a gas.
20. The support of claim 18, wherein said liquid is water.
21. The support of claim 1, wherein said elongate member comprises a plurality of materials.
22. The support of claim 21, wherein said first contoured surface comprises visco-elastic foam.
23. The support of claim 1, further comprising a cover for said elongate member.
24. The support of claim 23, wherein said cover comprises fabric.
25. The support of claim 24, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to said cover in close proximity to said first end, and a second portion of said fastener secured to said cover in close proximity to said second end.
26. The support of claim 25, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said cover in close proximity to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said cover in close proximity to said second end.
27. The support of claim 1, wherein each of said first and second ends of said elongate member is customizable in shape.
28. A support, comprising:
an elongate base, said elongate base comprising a top surface, a first end, and a second end; and
a chin support having a first end, a second end, and a body extending between said first end and said second end, said body having a depth, said chin support further comprising one or more chin receptacles, said chin support slidably coupled to said elongate base such that said chin support can slide back and forth along said top surface;
wherein each of said first end and said second end of said chin support has a depth that is larger than said depth of said body of said chin support.
29. The support of claim 28, wherein each of said first and second ends of said chin support has an enlarged portion that is substantially triangular.
30. The support of claim 28, wherein each of said first and second ends of said chin support has an enlarged portion that is substantially rectangular.
31. The support of claim 28, wherein each of said first and second ends of said chin support has an enlarged portion that is substantially trapezoidal.
32. The support of claim 28, wherein each of said first and second ends of said chin support has an enlarged portion that has an irregular shape.
33. The support of claim 28, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to said first end and a second portion of said fastener secured to said second end.
34. The support of claim 33, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said second end.
35. The support of claim 33, wherein said fastener comprises a Velcro closure.
36. The support of claim 33, wherein said fastener comprises a snap-button closure.
37. The support of claim 28, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to a frontal surface of said elongate base in close proximity to said first end, and a second portion of said fastener secured to said frontal surface of said elongate base in close proximity to said second end.
38. The support of claim 37, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said frontal surface of said elongate base in close proximity to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said frontal surface of said elongate base in close proximity to said second end.
39. The support of claim 28, said chin support further comprising visco-elastic foam.
40. The support of claim 28, said elongate base further comprising a flexible polyurethane foam.
41. The support of claim 28, said chin support further comprising a flexible polyurethane foam.
42. The support of claim 28, further comprising a cover for said elongate base.
43. The support of claim 42, said cover further comprising fabric.
44. The support of claim 43, further comprising a fastener, a first portion of said fastener secured to said cover in close proximity to said first end, and a second portion of said fastener secured to said cover in close proximity to said second end.
45. The support of claim 44, wherein said first portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said cover in close proximity to said first end, and said second portion of said fastener is detachably secured to said cover in close proximity to said second end.
46. The support of claim 28, further comprising a lock to hold said chin support in place.
47. The support of claim 28, wherein said elongate base has a body extending between said first end and said second end of said elongate base, each of said first end and said second end of said elongate base has a depth that is larger than said depth of said body of said elongate base.
48. The support of claim 47, wherein each of said first and second ends of said elongate base has a shape that is customizable in shape.
49. The support of claim 28, wherein each of said first and second ends of said chin support is customizable in shape.
Description
RELATED APPLICATION DATA

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of the U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/565,175.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The invention pertains to the field of orthopedic devices, including, support devices for the head and neck.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Known orthopedic devices for use around the neck of a patient are designed to provide support and a degree of comfort for the head, neck, and cervical portion of the spine, hereinafter referred to as the cervical spine. For purposes of this discussion, the cervical spine is not confined anatomically from the C1 to C7 vertebrae. Rather, the cervical spine is also used in the functional sense and includes occiput-C1 through the 4th thoracic vertebrae. The cervical spine is a portion of the total spinal organ, and also includes the related soft tissues, i.e. muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. These head and neck supports also provide sensory input for a patient, making a patient more conscious of the postural alignment and position of his or her head and neck. The head and neck supports, also known as neck collars, are soft, semi-rigid, or rigid. There are also rigid braces available to support the head and neck. The majority of these head and neck supports are designed to substantially enclose the neck of a patient, and typically include a recess on the top surface where the patient's chin rests.

[0004] Known head and neck supports are generally designed to provide support in the sagittal plane, namely with the patient's head facing straight forward with zero degrees of rotation of the head and/or cervical spine. Although at times this is beneficial during the treatment of disorders including injuries, because the cervical spine is complex anatomically, biomechanically, and functionally, there are also medical conditions whose treatment requires the head and neck to be supported in positions incorporating varying degrees of rotation of the cervical spine.

[0005] These effects relate to the complex movements of the anatomical cervical spine comprised of the first cervical vertebrae through the seventh cervical vertebrae. There are facet joints bilaterally between each vertebrae (starting at C2-C3 and ending at C6-C7) permitting movements of flexion, extension, sidebending, and rotation. Additionally, the bilateral occipital condyles at the base of the skull articulate with the first cervical vertebrae, permitting the same types of movements. Although the exact movement patterns are different at occiput-C1 due to a reversal of the convex-concave joint surfaces as compared to, for example, C2-C3, the same types of movement are permitted. There are also muscles, tendons, ligaments, and connective tissues located along and between the bony vertebrae and the base of skull, and nerve roots exit the spine on each side at each vertebrae. The movements of sidebending and rotation are physiologically combined and in the same direction from the second vertebrae to the seventh vertebrae. Thus, right sidebending and right rotation are combined or linked. Either movement causes the other to also occur together. Contrary to this, the interface between the skull and the first vertebrae allows reversed movements, i.e. linked but to opposite sides. Thus, right rotation of the head on the C1 vertebrae is combined with left sidebending of the head, and vice versa. This reversal of movement explains why we can rotate the head and neck to the right or left and yet have the head remain level, i.e. not tilted. Therefore, if a patient has pain with right sidebending/right rotation of the upper neck, a treatment could be to support it in left sidebending and/or left rotation. This relieves the right-sided joints and soft tissues from compression and stretches them. Similarly, a “pinched” nerve root on the right can be relieved by rotating and/or sidebending the head and neck to the left.

[0006] When using known head and neck supports if the neck must be supported in a rotated position, these known devices must be rotated in the desired direction. Because these devices are configured for use in the sagittal plane they are not designed nor intended for use while rotated. Because rotating them often results in a misfit between the patient and the device, the side portions of these devices press upon the patient's head and neck, often imparting an unwanted tilt to the head and resulting in discomfort to the patient. Furthermore, the shape of these devices make the positioning and rotational control of the head and neck far less predictable or achievable. For instance, if a physician determines that a patient's head should be maintained and supported at 15° of left rotation, it is often uncomfortable and difficult to rotate the known head and neck supports so as to actually achieve 15° of head and neck rotation while also keeping the head level, and the patient comfortable. Thus, there is a need for a head and neck support that allows the head and neck to be rested in a rotated position while the device is not rotated. There is also a need for a head and neck support that eliminates the need for the head and neck to literally follow a device that has been rotated. And finally, there is a need for a head and neck support that is able to provide support to a patient at varying, controlled, individual small ranges of head and neck rotation, without causing discomfort or imparting a tilt of the head.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0007] The present invention comprises a head and neck support device comprising at least one contoured surface. One use of the support device of the present invention is to provide the head, neck, and cervical spine of a patient with rest, support, and kinesthetic input in various degrees of neck rotation, without the need to rotate the support device itself. Rotating known support devices often cause discomfort to the patient, often tilt the patient's head, and because of their contours, do not allow more precise degrees of head and neck rotation, and do not provide the same degree of support as they do in the sagittal plane position (0° of rotation).

[0008] According to a first aspect of the present invention, the head and neck support device includes an elongate member having a first end, a second end, and a body extending between the first and second ends, where the elongate member further comprises a first contoured surface having a plurality of first surface recesses. The elongate member may further comprise a second contoured surface having a plurality of second surface recesses. Furthermore, each of the ends of the elongate member may have an enlarged portion such that the depth of each of the ends is larger than the depth of the body of the elongate member.

[0009] According to a second aspect of the present invention, the head and neck support device includes an elongate base and a chin support slidably coupled to the elongate base. The chin support has a first end, a second end, a body extending between the first and second ends, and at least one chin receptacle. Each of the ends of the chin support may have an enlarged portion such that the depth of each of the ends of the chin support is larger than the depth of the body of the chin support.

[0010] Other and further aspects and features of the invention will be evident from reading the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments, which are intended to illustrate, not limit, the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0011]FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of one embodiment of the support device of the present invention.

[0012]FIG. 2 illustrates a frontal view of an embodiment of the present invention.

[0013]FIG. 3 illustrates a frontal view of another alternate embodiment of the recesses of the present invention.

[0014]FIG. 3a illustrates a top view of the embodiment of FIG. 2 formed into a ring-like shape as it may be used by a patient.

[0015]FIG. 4 depicts one embodiment of the present invention in use on a patient with the head and neck supported in the sagittal plane.

[0016]FIG. 5 depicts one embodiment of the present invention by a patient with the head and neck supported in a rotated plane.

[0017]FIG. 6 illustrates a frontal view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention where the first and second contoured surfaces comprise a different material than the elongate core.

[0018]FIG. 7 illustrates a frontal view of an alternate embodiment of the present invention where an inner core is located within the elongate member to provide additional support.

[0019]FIG. 8 illustrates a perspective view of one alternative embodiment of the present invention where the support device comprises two halves that are coupled so that they can slide with respect to each other.

[0020]FIG. 9 illustrates a perspective view of another alternative embodiment of the present invention where the support device comprises a base with a sliding chin support.

[0021]FIG. 10 illustrates a frontal view of a support device, particularly showing the support device of FIG. 1 having enlarged ends.

[0022]FIG. 11 illustrates a frontal view of a variation of the support device of FIG. 10, particularly showing the enlarged ends having trimmed corners.

[0023]FIGS. 12 and 13 illustrate variations of a support device having enlarged ends, particularly showing the recesses having different shapes.

[0024]FIG. 14 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the support device of FIG. 10, particularly showing the enlarged ends that are capable of being customized.

[0025]FIG. 15 illustrates the support device of FIG. 14, particularly showing the enlarged ends that have been customized.

[0026]FIG. 16 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the support device of FIG. 9, particularly showing the chin support having enlarged ends.

[0027]FIG. 17 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the support device of FIG. 16, particularly showing the device having one chin receptacle.

[0028]FIG. 18 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the support device of FIG. 11, particularly showing the complete enlarged portion at one end of the elongate member.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0029] A preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises a multi-positional support device having an elongate member section. Preferably the elongate member section comprises a first end, a second end, and at least one contoured surface. Preferably the at least one contoured surface has at least two recesses, and the elongate member comprises a flexible material that permits said elongate member to be shaped such that said first end and said second end may be in close proximity to one another.

[0030] As seen in FIG. 1, a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention comprises an elongate member 10 having a first contoured surface 14 and a second contoured surface 16. The first contoured surface 14 depicted in FIG. 1 has three first surface recesses 12, and the second contoured surface 16 has two second surface recesses 13. When the elongate member 10 is wrapped around the neck of a patient for use, these recesses 12 and 13 are shaped to retain the chin of the patient. There are a plurality of recesses 12 and 13 on the support device, thereby providing rest, support, and kinesthetic input for the head, neck, and cervical spine of the patient in various degrees of neck rotation.

[0031] Preferably, the first surface recesses 12 are located at positions that are offset from the second surface recesses 13. Having the first and second surface recesses offset as depicted in FIG. 1 increases the number of different angles of neck rotation that can be supported with a single support. For example, FIG. 1 depicts a support device having three first surface recesses 12 and two second surface recesses 13 offset from the first surface recesses 12. This results in a total of five different positions in which a chin can be placed to provide five different small ranges of head and neck rotation. Three individual small ranges of head and neck rotation are provided by the first surface recesses 12 when the first contoured surface 14 is the top surface when used by a patient, and two additional individual small ranges of head and neck rotation are provided by the second surface recesses 13 when the support device is flipped over so that the second contoured surface 16 is the top surface when used by a patient. It should be noted that for ease in describing the invention, use of the term “top surface” shall refer to the surface adjacent to the chin of a patient (i.e. the surface that the chin is resting upon) when the support is being used by a patient. Thus, the center recess of the first contoured surface 14 allows the chin to rest in the sagittal plane (zero degrees of rotation), and the remaining recesses 12 and 13 allow the head and neck to be supported in varying degrees of left and right neck rotation.

[0032] The recesses 12 and 13 are designed to be deep enough to support and retain the chin of a patient comfortably. It is preferred that the depth of the recesses be between one-eighth of an inch to two inches deep. Although they preferably have a rounded or curved contour, they may be formed in any shape that will comfortably retain the chin of a patient as illustrated by the frontal views of alternate embodiments of the present invention in FIGS. 2 and 3. FIG. 2 depicts an embodiment having a first contoured surface 14 with recesses 12 that are angular, similar to triangular cut-outs. And FIG. 3 depicts an embodiment with a first contoured surface 14 having recesses 12 that are gear-tooth shaped, similar to trapezoidal cut-outs. The recesses may also be custom-made to the specific contours of the chin of a patient to provide maximum comfort and support. It should also be noted that as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, in an alternate embodiment the elongate member may only comprise a single contoured surface 14.

[0033] Turning to FIG. 3a, the embodiment of FIG. 2 is again shown with the support device formed into a substantially ring-like shape, as it typically would be when used by a patient. In this drawing, the lowest portions of the recesses 12 (or valleys) are shown by the dashed lines, and the peaks (or hills) in between each recess 12 are shown by the solid lines. The support device is typically oriented such that the first end 18 and second end 22 of the elongate member 10 will meet at the back of a patient's neck. In accordance with this orientation, axis S represents the sagittal plane or an angle of zero degrees. Thus a patient who requires head and neck support while facing straight forward will utilize the recess 12 that lies along axis S. An axis R represents a rotated plane or an angle of, measured from the sagittal plane.

[0034] The support device of the present invention preferably further comprises a fastener for holding the first and second ends 18 and 22 together. An example of a fastener that may be used is a VelcroŽ type fastener with one portion 20 attached to end 18 and the second portion 24 attached to end 22. The portions 20 and 24 can be of any type that adequately holds the ends 18 and 22 of the elongate member 10 together when the support device is wrapped around the neck of a patient. Snaps, buttons, strings, or any other type of fastener may also be used. The fastener portions 20 and 24 can be located on the ends 18 and 22, or they can be located on the front surface of the elongate member 10 towards the ends 18 and 22. It is presently preferred that the fasteners 20 and 24 be removable so that the ends 18 and 22 of the elongate member 10 may be trimmed to conform to the circumference of a patient's neck.

[0035] In lieu of the fastener portions 20 and 24, the ends 18 and 22 may be configured such that they interlock and stay joined without the need for fasteners. The ends 18 and 22 may be designed as a tab and slot, a tongue and groove, or a key and lock so that they can be coupled together. For example, end 18 may comprise a “T” shaped tab, and end 22 may comprise a “T” shaped slot, so that the end 18 fits into the end 22 to hold the ends of the support device together. Alternately, end 18 may comprise a long tab and end 22 may comprise a slot. The ends are coupled by inserting the tab of end 18 into the slot of end 22. In such an embodiment, the tab 18 may be trimmable to allow the patient to conform the support device to the circumference of their neck.

[0036] The elongate member 10 is preferably constructed from a flexible polyurethane foam. In an alternate embodiments, other materials may be used such as semi-rigid or rigid foam, other types of flexible foam, plastics, or even metal. The thickness of the material used to fabricate the elongate member 10 may also vary based on a patient's needs, although the thickness of the support device preferably ranges from a quarter of an inch to two inches in thickness. Similarly, the height of the device may vary based on the patient, although it preferably ranges from one inch to seven inches in height.

[0037] The support device of the present invention preferably further comprises a cover (not shown) for the elongate member 10. The cover is preferably made of fabric, but any number of materials may be used. The cover provides additional comfort for the patient when using the support device of the present invention. The fastener may attach to the cover in certain embodiments instead of directly to the ends of the elongate member 10.

[0038]FIG. 4 shows an embodiment of the support device of the present invention as used by a patient with his head being supported in the sagittal plane, defined by axis S. FIG. 5 illustrates the same patient using the same embodiment as shown in FIG. 4 where the head and neck are supported in a position and alignment that are rotated, defined by axis R. The orientation of the support device relative to the body has not changed from FIG. 4 to FIG. 5. The recesses on the contoured surfaces of the present invention can be precisely located allowing small individual ranges of neck rotation to provide the most support and benefit in a consistent manner. This feature of the present invention eliminates the unwanted tilting of the head and neck and the uncomfortable pressures on the head and neck that are caused by known head and neck supports when they are rotated. In accordance with the present invention, the support of the head is provided by the reactive upward forces generated at the clavicles (collar bones). In particular, the weight of the head is transmitted down through the device to the clavicles, which provide reactive upward forces to the head for support of the head and indirectly, the neck. By maintaining the constant shape and contact of the device against the clavicle, this support remains constant even as the head is rotated.

[0039] Turning to FIG. 6, in an alternate embodiment of the present invention, the first contoured surface 14 and the second contoured surface 16 of the present invention comprise layers formed of a different material than elongate member 10 itself. For example, the first contoured surface 14 and the second contoured surface 16 may comprise a visco-elastic memory foam to provide even greater comfort to a patient.

[0040] As seen in FIG. 7, in another alternate embodiment the elongate member may further comprise an inner core 30 to provide additional support. This inner core 30 may comprise any material known to be useful for adding support, such as a material that is relatively more rigid than the foam used in the elongate member, or a flexible memory retaining material such as aluminum or a malleable metal. Alternatively, the inner core 30 may comprise an inflatable bladder containing air or water that can provide a varying amount of support depending upon the amount of air or water added.

[0041]FIG. 8 illustrates another embodiment of the present invention. The support device of this embodiment comprises a male elongate member 40 and a female elongate member 42. Both the male and the female elongate bodies comprise a contoured surface with one or more recesses 50. Male elongate member 42 further comprises a lengthwise tongue 43, while female elongate member 40 further comprises a lengthwise groove 44. The tongue 43 fits into groove 44 to enable the two elongate bodies to be slidably joined so that the two may slide longitudinally with respect to one another. This configuration allows an almost unlimited number of possible angles for the recesses 50, accordingly increasing the number of potential neck positions to an almost limitless number.

[0042]FIG. 9 illustrates yet another alternate embodiment of the present invention. Here, the support device comprises an elongate base 60 with a sliding chin support 62 located on a top surface 61 of the elongate base 60. The chin support 62 can slide back and forth along the top surface 61 in this embodiment, utilizing some form of sliding mechanism. In the illustrated embodiment, the sliding mechanism is in the form of a tongue 63 and groove 64. The chin support 62 has the tongue 63 which is located on its bottom surface, and the elongate base 60 has the groove 64 into which the tongue 63 is inserted. The groove 64 preferably extends along substantially the entire length of the elongate base 60. The chin support 62 may now slide back and forth along the top surface 61 within the groove 64. One or more chin receptacles 65 are located in the chin support 62 to provide places for a patient's chin to rest within. In this embodiment, the various degrees of neck rotation are achieved by sliding the chin support 62 along the top surface 61 to place a chin receptacle 65 in a desired location. A mechanism such as a lock may be provided to securely secure the chin support 62 in place once it has been adjusted.

[0043] It should be noted that although the ends of the elongate member are shown in the previous examples to have substantially the same depth as that for the body of the elongate member, the scope of the invention is not so limited, and that any of the devices in the foregoing examples may have ends that are enlarged. FIG. 10 shows an elongate member 70, which includes a first end 18, a second end 22, a body 76 extending between the first end 18 and the second end 22, a first contoured surface 14 having a plurality of recesses 12, and a second contoured surface 16 having a plurality of recesses 13. The ends 18 and 22 of the elongate member 70 have enlarged portions 72 and 74, respectively, such that the depth 75 of each of the ends 18 and 22 is larger than the depth 71 of the body 76 of the elongate member 70. The enlarged portions 72 and 74 join with each other to form a surface for a head to rest against when the end 18 is connected to the end 22 by a fastener, as described previously.

[0044] The support device shown in FIG. 10 has enlarged portions 72 and 74 that are triangular in shape. FIG. 11 shows a variation of the support device of FIG. 10, in which the enlarged portions 72 and 74 of the ends 18 and 22, respectively, have flat contours, i.e., having trapezoidal shape. The enlarged portions 72 and 74 having flat contours are preferred because they provide an even surface for a head to rest against even as the head or neck is rotated to rest at different angles of rotation. It should be noted that the enlarged portions 72 and 74 of the elongate member 70 may have other shapes as well, such as rectangles and ovals, and that they are not limited to the examples illustrated previously. Furthermore, in an alternative embodiment, the corners of the triangular shaped portions 72 and 74, like that shown in FIG. 10, could be advantageously trimmed or snipped off by a user to form tapered or flat contours, such as those shown in FIG. 11. If the support device includes a fabric cover, as described previously, the cover may include an opening from which the corners of the enlarged portions 72 and 74 could be pulled out for shaping and/or sizing purpose.

[0045]FIGS. 12 and 13 are variations of the support device of FIG. 10. FIG. 12 shows an elongate member 70, which includes a contoured surface 14 having a plurality of recesses 12 that are angular. FIG. 13 shows an elongate member 70, which includes a contoured surface 14 having a plurality of recesses 12 that are trapezoidal. The recesses 12 may have other geometric shapes or customized shapes, and are not limited to the foregoing examples.

[0046]FIG. 14 is another variation of the support device of FIG. 10, which includes at least one customizable enlarged portion 78 at each end of the elongate member 70. In particular, FIG. 14 shows four customizable enlarged portions 78 (two at each of the ends 18 and 22 of the elongate member 70). Alternatively, the elongate member 70 may include only two enlarged portions 78 (one at each of the ends 18 and 22 of the elongate member 70). The customizable enlarged portion 78 allows a user to customize the shape and size of the support by removing a portion of the customizable enlarged portion 78 along a desired contour 79. FIG. 15 shows the device of FIG. 14 after a portion of the customizable enlarged portion 78 has been removed along the contour 79. Each of the resulting ends 18 and 22 has a depth 75 that is larger than the depth 71 of the body 76 of the elongate member 70. However, if it is desirable, the customizable enlarged portion 78 may be trimmed or cut such that the resulting ends 18 and 22 each has a depth that is equal to, or shorter than, the depth 71 of the body 76 of the elongate member 70.

[0047]FIG. 16 shows an alternative embodiment of the support device of FIG. 9 that has enlarged ends. The device includes an elongate base 80 and a chin support 82 having a first end 18, a second 22, and a body 83 extending between the first and second ends 18 and 22. As discussed previously, the chin support 82 is slidably coupled to the elongate base 80 and allows the head to rotate while the chin is supported within one of the chin receptacles 50. The head may also rotate by positioning the chin so that it rests within a different chin receptacle 50. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 17, the chin support 82 may have only one chin receptacle 50. Furthermore, the elongate base 80 may have at least one receptacle 50, as shown in FIG. 16, or alternatively, it may have no receptacle at all, as shown in FIG. 17. Although not shown, the elongate base 80 may also have enlarged ends.

[0048] FIGS. 10-17 shows that the enlarged portions 72 and 74 at the ends 18 and 22, respectively, are designed to be joined together such that they form a complete surface for a head to rest against. However, in an alternative embodiment, the complete surface may be fabricated as a single element, without requiring two enlarged portions 72 and 74 to be joined together. FIG. 18 illustrates an alternative embodiment of the device of FIG. 11, which includes a complete enlarged portion 90 at one end of the elongate member 70. The complete enlarged portion 90 provides a complete surface for a head to rest against. Alternatively, the complete enlarged portion 90 may also be located anywhere along the body 76 of the elongate member 70.

[0049] One method of using the head and neck support device of the present invention is to place the elongate member 10 around the neck of a patient oriented with the first and second ends 18 and 22 meeting at the back of the patient's neck, such that the interface where the ends 18 and 22 meet is substantially aligned with the sagittal plane. The chin of the patient is then positioned within one of the recesses. The enlarged portions 72 and 74 of the device provide a surface for the head to rest against. Preferably, a fastener is used to fasten the ends 18 and 22 together to hold the support device around the neck of the patient. Now, if the patient needs to reposition his or her head and neck to support them at a different angle, the patient can reposition his or her chin within another recess on the top contoured surface without removing or reorienting the support device.

[0050] In the event that the patient needs to reposition his or her head and neck at an angle that is not provided for by the recesses in the top contoured surface, the patient may remove the support device and flip the support device over so that the former bottom contoured surface is the new top contoured surface. The recesses on the new top contoured surface are at different positions (i.e., staggered) from the recesses on the former top contoured surface, thus providing angles that the former top contoured surface could not provide. The support device is then replaced around the neck of the patient so that the first and second ends 18 and 22 again meet at the back of the patient's neck such that the interface where the ends 18 and 22 meet is substantially aligned with the sagittal plane, and the chin of the patient is again positioned within one of the recesses located on the new top contoured surface.

[0051] Another method of use is when a patient using the support device desires to remove it for a duration of time. Here, the elongate member 10 is first placed around the neck of a patient oriented with the first and second ends 18 and 22 meeting at the back of the patient's neck, such that the interface where the ends 18 and 22 meet is substantially aligned with the sagittal plane. Next, the chin of the patient is positioned within one of the recesses. At some point thereafter, the patient may remove the device for a duration of time. Subsequently when the patient wishes to again use the support device, the elongate member 10 is replaced around the neck of a patient oriented with the first and second ends 18 and 22 meeting at the back of the patient's neck, such that the interface where the ends 18 and 22 meet is again substantially aligned with the sagittal plane. This ensures that the recesses will be positioned at the same locations as before. Finally, the chin of the patient is again positioned within one of the recesses.

[0052] Thus, a head and neck support device and methods of its use have been described. While embodiments, applications, and advantages of the invention have been shown and described, many more embodiments and advantages are possible without deviating from the inventive concepts described herein. Thus, the invention is not to be restricted except in accordance with the spirit of the appended claims.

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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7490419Dec 29, 2004Feb 17, 2009Dennis E. WeilandSupport devices for distributing pressure
US7993293 *May 25, 2006Aug 9, 2011Xceed Holdings CcNeck brace
US8002723 *Mar 23, 2007Aug 23, 2011Xceed Holdings CcNeck brace
US8920351Jun 5, 2012Dec 30, 2014The Seaberg Company, Inc.Emergency stabilization of a fractured pelvis or an injured neck
US8926536Dec 14, 2012Jan 6, 2015The Seaberg Company, Inc.Device and method for control of hemorrhage
US9028435Aug 10, 2012May 12, 2015The Seaberg Company, LLCDevice and method for control of hemorrhage
WO2013025546A1 *Aug 10, 2012Feb 21, 2013The Seaberg Company, Inc.Device and method for stabilization of a fractured pelvis or an injured neck, and for control of hemorrhage
Classifications
U.S. Classification602/18
International ClassificationA61F5/055
Cooperative ClassificationY10S128/23, A61F5/055
European ClassificationA61F5/055