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Publication numberUS20030033674 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/200,765
Publication dateFeb 20, 2003
Filing dateJul 23, 2002
Priority dateOct 28, 1999
Publication number10200765, 200765, US 2003/0033674 A1, US 2003/033674 A1, US 20030033674 A1, US 20030033674A1, US 2003033674 A1, US 2003033674A1, US-A1-20030033674, US-A1-2003033674, US2003/0033674A1, US2003/033674A1, US20030033674 A1, US20030033674A1, US2003033674 A1, US2003033674A1
InventorsRobert Mann
Original AssigneeMann Robert J.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Infant garment and methods for treating positional plagiocephaly
US 20030033674 A1
Abstract
A method for treating/preventing positional plagiocephaly in an infant by providing a support surface, positioning the infant on the support surface, positioning the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a first side when the infant is on the support surface, repositioning the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a second side opposite the first side when the infant is on the support surface, and repeating these steps such that the infant's head is not longer susceptible to positional plagiocephaly. The invention also relates to an infant garment with an upper portion having an infant torso covering portion and an inclined member engaged with the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment.
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Claims(29)
The invention claimed is:
1. An infant garment comprising:
an upper portion comprising an infant torso covering portion; and
an inclined member releaseably engaged with the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment in at least a first position and a second position such that when the inclined member is in the first position, an infant lies in a first position and when the inclined member is in the second position, an infant lies in a second position.
2. The infant garment of claim 1, wherein the inclined member comprises plastic, wood, metal, or foam.
3. The infant garment of claim 1, wherein the infant torso covering portion further comprises a pocket adapted to receive the inclined member.
4. The infant garment of claim 3, wherein the inclined member releaseably engages the upper torso portion utilizing the pouch.
5. The infant garment of claim 1, wherein the inclined member utilizes a fastening system to engage the inclined member with the garment.
6. The infant garment of claim 1 further comprising a covering material that covers at least a portion of the inclined member.
7. The method of preventing plagiocephaly in an infant comprising:
providing an infant garment comprising an upper torso portion and a inclined member engaged with the upper torso portion;
fitting the infant garment on an infant; and
selectively placing the infant in a first predetermined sleeping position such that the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in the first predetermined sleeping position or a second predetermined sleeping position such that the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in the second predetermined sleeping position thereby preventing plagiocephaly.
8. The method of claim 7, wherein the inclined member releaseably engages the upper torso portion of the infant garment.
9. The method of claim 7, wherein the inclined member comprises plastic, wood, metal, or foam.
10. The method of claim 7, wherein the infant torso covering portion further comprises a pocket adapted to receive the inclined member.
11. The method of claim 10, wherein the inclined member releaseably engages the upper torso portion utilizing the pouch.
12. The method of claim 7, wherein the inclined member utilizes a fastening system to engage the inclined member with the garment.
13. The method of claim 7 further comprising a covering material that covers at least a portion of the inclined member.
14. An infant garment comprising:
an upper portion comprising an infant torso covering portion; and
an inclined member engaged with the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment.
15. The infant garment of claim 14, wherein the inclined member releaseably engages the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment.
16. The infant garment of claim 14, wherein the inclined member comprises plastic, wood, metal, or foam.
17. The infant garment of claim 14, wherein the infant torso covering portion further comprises a pocket adapted to receive the inclined member.
18. The infant garment of claim 17, wherein the inclined member releaseably engages the upper torso portion utilizing the pouch.
19. The infant garment of claim 14, wherein the inclined member utilizes a fastening system to engage the inclined member with the garment.
20. The infant garment of claim 14 further comprising a covering material that covers at least a portion of the inclined member.
21. A method for treating/preventing positional plagiocephaly in an infant, comprising the steps of:
(a) providing a support surface;
(b) positioning the infant on the support surface;
(c) positioning at least a portion of the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a first side when the infant is placed on the support surface;
(d) repositioning at least a portion of the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a second side opposite the first side when the infant is on the support surface; and
(e) repeating steps (a) through (d) until the infant's head is no longer susceptible to positional plagiocephaly.
22. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface comprises the inner surface of a sleeping garment worn by the infant.
23. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface is configured and positioned under the infant's torso so as to raise one shoulder of the infant relative to the infant's other shoulder.
24. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface is at least a portion of the surface of a mattress.
25. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface is the upper surface of a wedge-shaped pad.
26. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface comprises a infant retention cavity to facilitate retention of the infant in one location on the support surface even when the support surface tilts.
27. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface comprises an at least partially deformable surface to facilitate retention of the infant in a predetermined location on the support surface even when the support surface tilts.
28. The method of claim 21, wherein the support surface is positioned prior to positioning the infant on the support surface.
29. An infant garment comprising an upper portion for covering the infant's torso, wherein said upper portion includes means for lifting one of the infant's shoulders relative to the other shoulder when the infant is placed on its back so as to cause the infant's head to rest at least partially on one side.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

[0001] This application is a continuation in part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/907,142, filed on Jul. 17, 2001, entitled “INFANT BED HAVING A TILTABLE SLEEPING SURFACE FOR TREATING AND PREVENTION OF POSITIONAL PLAGIOCEPHALY,” by Robert J. Mann, which is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/429,423, entitled “INFANT BED HAVING A TILTABLE SLEEPING SURFACE AND METHOD OF TREATING POSITIONAL PLAGIOCEPHALY,” filed on Oct. 28, 1999, by Robert J. Mann, now U.S. patent Ser. No. 6,260,553, the entire disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention generally pertains to infant garments and, more particularly, to infant garments used in conjunction with a torso supporting element. The present invention also relates to a method of treating positional plagiocephaly.

[0003] Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) is a devastating problem with no known cause. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommended years ago that babies should sleep on their backs on the assumption that part of the SIDS problem might be related to infants suffocating face down in their cribs. The Back to Sleep program began nationwide, and the results have been analyzed. A clear statistical reduction in SIDS deaths occurred after the program was installed.

[0004] Some time after the program started, doctors began seeing an increasing number of babies with distorted heads. A number were treated with extensive surgery. Later, it became clear that the distortion, mostly flatness of the back and side of the head, was a direct result of the sleeping position. The weight of the brain on the thin skull bone changes the growth rate, and a progressive deformity occurs for the first four to six months of life. Once infants have a flat spot on their skull, the flatness becomes exacerbated due to the inability of the infants to move their heads once lying on the flat spot due to the general weakness all infants exhibit in their necks.

[0005] Historically, several cultures experienced similar positional distortions. The Plains American Indians, by strapping infants to a cradleboard, caused uniform flatness of the back of the head. The present condition of positional plagiocephaly causes similar skull and neck distortions.

[0006] Therapeutic programs to correct the distortion developed, including physical therapy and helmet molding or pressure relief programs. These programs assist some in the correction of the several characteristic shape presentations.

[0007] To date, only presumptive circumstances can be used as predictors as to which babies will develop the deformity (large males, twins, and preemies).

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0008] An aspect of the present invention is to provide an apparatus and method for treating and preventing positional plagiocephaly. An infant garment of the present invention includes an upper portion having an infant torso covering portion and an inclined member engageable with the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment in at least a first position and a second position such that when the inclined member is in the first position, an infant lies in a first position and when the inclined member is in the second position, an infant lies in a second position. A method for the prevention of plagiocephaly of the present invention comprises the steps of providing an infant garment having an upper torso portion and a releaseably engageably inclined member releaseably engaged with the upper torso portion, fitting the infant garment on an infant having a head, and selectively placing the infant in a first predetermined sleeping position such that the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in the first predetermined sleeping position or a second predetermined sleeping position such that the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in the second predetermined sleeping position thereby preventing plagiocephaly.

[0009] Another embodiment of the present invention includes an infant garment for the prevention of plagiocephaly including an upper portion having an infant torso covering portion and an inclined member engaged with the infant torso covering portion of the infant garment. In yet another embodiment, a method for treating/preventing positional plagiocephaly in an infant, comprises providing a support surface, positioning the infant on the support surface, positioning the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a first side when the infant is placed on the support surface, repositioning the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a second side opposite the first side when the infant is placed on the support surface, and repeating the steps until the infant's head is no longer susceptible to positional plagiocephaly.

[0010] Another embodiment of the present invention comprises an infant garment comprising an upper portion for covering the infant's torso, wherein said upper portion includes means for lifting one of the infant's shoulders relative to the other shoulder when the infant is placed on its back so as to cause the infant's head to rest at least partially on one side.

[0011] Yet another embodiment of the present invention includes a method for treating/preventing positional plagiocephaly in an infant by (a) providing a support surface; (b) positioning the infant on the support surface; (c) positioning at least a portion of the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a first side when the infant is on the support surface; (d) repositioning at least a portion of the support surface such that the infant's head tilts to a second side opposite the first side when the infant is on the support surface; and (e) repeating steps (a) through (d) until the infant's head is no longer susceptible to positional plagiocephaly.

[0012] These and other features, advantages and objects of the present invention will be further understood and appreciated by those skilled in the art by reference to the following specification, claims and appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0013] In the drawings:

[0014]FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an infant crib constructed in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

[0015]FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a mattress for an infant bed constructed in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention;

[0016]FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a mattress support used in the infant bed shown in FIG. 1;

[0017]FIG. 4 is a front view of a mattress support and mattress constructed in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention shown tilted to a first side;

[0018]FIG. 5 is a front view of a mattress support and mattress constructed in accordance with a first embodiment of the present invention shown tilted to a second opposite side;

[0019]FIG. 6 is a partial cross-sectional view of a turn handle used to tilt a portion of the mattress constructed in accordance with the first embodiment of the present invention;

[0020]FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the turning handle taken along line VII-VII shown in FIG. 6;

[0021]FIG. 8 shows a face plate and aperture for receiving the turn crank shown in FIGS. 6 and 7;

[0022]FIG. 9 shows a wedge forming a second embodiment of the present invention;

[0023]FIG. 10 is a perspective view showing the wedge of FIG. 9 placed on a mattress;

[0024]FIG. 11 is a front view of a partially wedge-shaped mattress portion constructed in accordance with a third embodiment of the present invention;

[0025]FIG. 12 is a top view of an infant garment constructed in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention showing the inclined member receiving pouch and alternatively, fastening strips for adhering the inclined member to the infant garment;

[0026]FIG. 13A is an end view showing an infant wearing an infant garment in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention such that the infant's head is in a first sleeping position;

[0027]FIG. 13B is an end view showing an infant wearing an infant garment in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention such that the infant's head is in a second sleeping position;

[0028]FIG. 14 is an elevated side view of an inclined member used in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0029]FIG. 15 is a perspective view of an inclined member used in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

[0030]FIG. 16 is a top view of an embodiment of the support surface of the present invention showing the substantially permanent cavity for retaining an infant in a predetermined position;

[0031]FIG. 17 is an elevated end view of an infant positioned on the support surface of an embodiment of the present invention utilizing a relatively permanent cavity or an at least partially deformable support surface, which has been incorporated into a crib; and

[0032]FIG. 18 is an elevated end view of an infant where the support surface of an embodiment of the present invention has been tilted and incorporated into a crib and where the support surface utilizes a relatively permanent cavity or an at least partially deformable support surface.

[0033]FIG. 19 is a perspective view of the interior mechanism for an infant mechanism for an infant mattress according to one embodiment of the present invention.

[0034]FIG. 20 is a transparent perspective view of another embodiment of the present invention.

[0035]FIG. 21 is a perspective view of a mattress top according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

[0036] As mentioned above and explained in more detail below, the present invention relates to an infant bed, infant garment, and a method of treating, preventing, and reducing the risk of positional plagiocephaly in infants. The method may be practiced using the inventive infant bed and/or garment. The method using a bed is described first followed by a description of the method using the inventive garment. In general, when using the inventive bed, the method may be performed in two different ways. The first way involves alternatingly tilting sideways a portion of the mattress surface on which the infant's head is laid, while maintaining the portion of the mattress surface on which the infant's back and shoulders are laid, in a flat, horizontal position. The second way involves tilting a portion of a mattress under the infant's shoulders while maintaining the mattress position flat under the infant's head. By tilting the portion of the mattress underlying the infant's head or shoulders sideways, the infant will sleep with its head facing down the slope of the tilted mattress portion or facing the direction in which the infant's shoulders are tilted downward. Because the infant generally lacks the muscles to move its head to sleep on the other side of its head against the slope of the mattress, the infant will not sleep on the other side of its head. In this manner, the infant will sleep on one side of its head one night, and sleep on the other side of its head on the next night in a controlled manner. By alternating the side of the infant's head on which the infant sleeps each night (or on some other periodic basis), the infant will not develop the flat spots in its skull that are symptomatic of positional plagiocephaly.

[0037] The steps of tilting the head portion of the mattress to different sides every other night should be continued through about the first four to ten months after the infant's due date. Infants that are born premature or are neurologically impaired may be susceptible to a greater age.

[0038] The method of the present invention may be implemented using a variety of different means. Broadly speaking, an infant bed constructed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention comprises a flat, horizontal first surface on which to lay the infant's back and shoulders and means for providing and laterally tilting a second surface on which the infant's head is laid during periods of rest. The tilting means enables the second surface to be tilted to either of two sides.

[0039] The infant bed may be a crib, cribbette, cradle, bassinet, or any other structure in which an infant may be placed in a generally horizontal position for any extended period of time. An “infant bed,” as used and described herein, would not include an adult-sized bed, and therefore, typically has a sleeping surface length of approximately five feet or less. The means for laterally tilting the portion of the second surface may include structures disposed within the crib mattress, within a box spring, within the mattress support, or in any combination thereof. Alternatively, the tilting means may include a wedge-shaped pillow or foam pad that may be placed on top of a mattress. An example of such a wedge is shown in FIGS. 9-11 and described in detail below. The wedge may be repositioned and reoriented each night to cause the infant to rest its head on opposite sides each night.

[0040]FIG. 1 shows an infant crib 10 constructed according to a first embodiment. Infant crib 10 is shown in FIG. 1 without the plurality of side spindles that would normally be provided on such a crib, solely for purposes of illustration. It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that such a crib would include a plurality of vertical spindles spaced equally apart surrounding the crib mattress or other structure to prevent the infant from falling out of the crib. Crib 10 as illustrated includes a frame portion 12 that includes a mattress support frame 14 for supporting a mattress 16. Mattress 16 includes two portions 18 and 20.

[0041] As shown in detail in FIG. 2, first portion 18 (or body portion) of mattress 16 includes a top surface 24 that is bounded by a first side 26, a second side 28 opposite first side 26, a rear end 30, and a front end 32. Second portion 20 (or the head portion) of mattress 16 includes an upper surface 34 that is bounded on all four sides by a first side 36, a second side 38 opposite first side 36, a front end 40, and a rear end 42 that abuts front end 32 of first mattress portion 18. As described further below, mattress portions 18 and 20 are not physically joined unless by means of a mattress cover or sheets, such that head portion 20 of mattress 16 may be pivoted about a longitudinal axis to laterally tilt surface 34 from side to side.

[0042] As shown in FIG. 3, mattress support 14 includes a rectangular mattress frame 44 that extends around the perimeter of mattress 16 and rigidly connects portions of frame 12. Mattress frame 44 includes a front frame member 46, a rear frame member 48, and two side frame members 50 and 52 extending between frame members 46 and 48. Frame members 4652 are typically vertically oriented steel plates having dimensions slightly larger than the mattress, such that the mattress may fit within mattress frame 44. To support first mattress portion 18, mattress frame 44 further includes a mid-frame member 54 that extends between side frame members 50 and 52 so as to extend vertically upward between mattress portions 18 and 20. Mattress frame 44 further includes a horizontal frame portion 56 that extends horizontally inward from the bottom edge of frame members 48, 50, 52, and 54 so as to provide support for mattress portion 18. As conventional in the art, a plurality of springs or other support beams (not shown) may extend between horizontal frame portions 56 across the area defined by members 48-54 so as to provide sufficient support for mattress portion 18. Alternatively, a box spring may be provided to support mattress 16. In general, mattress support 14 supports first mattress portion 18 such that its upper surface 24 is maintained in a generally flat, horizontal position, as would be the case for a conventional mattress and mattress support assembly.

[0043] Mattress support structure 14 differs, however, from a conventional frame structure in that it includes a subframe assembly 58 that is pivotally attached to mattress frame 44 for supporting second mattress portion 20. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 6, subframe assembly 58 includes a front frame member 60, a rear frame member 62, and two side frame members 64 and 66. Frame members 60-66 are arranged as vertical walls and are generally made of steel. Subframe assembly 58 generally has dimensions slightly larger than second mattress portion 20 so as to extend around the lower perimeter of mattress portion 20. Subframe assembly 58 is also dimensioned to be slightly smaller than frame structure 44 so as to fit within an opening defined between front end 46, mid frame member 54, and side frame members 50 and 52. To support mattress portion 20 within subframe assembly 58, a horizontal frame structure 68 is provided that extends inwardly from the lower edges of frame members 60-66.

[0044] Subframe assembly 58 is pivotally mounted between front frame member 46 and mid-frame member 54 by means of an axle 70. Axle 70 is generally welded or otherwise secured to subframe assembly 58 while passing through apertures in frame members 46 and 54, such that axle 70 may rotate within those apertures. Axle 70 may also be fixedly attached to a handle 22 so as to allow a person to pivot and tilt mattress portion 20 using handle 22.

[0045]FIGS. 4 and 5 illustrate the manner by which mattress 16 and mattress support 14 may be combined to provide the requisite tilting of a portion of the sleeping surface from side to side that allows the infant's head to be rested on an inclined surface 34 while maintaining the infant's back and shoulders on a flat horizontal surface 24.

[0046]FIG. 6 shows a turn handle structure for mounting handle 22 and subframe assembly 58 within mattress frame 44. As shown in FIGS. 6-8, axle 70 extends through an aperture 72 formed in front frame member 46 and thereafter is bent approximately 90 degrees, such that a handle 74 may be attached. As shown in FIG. 6, axle 70 may be welded or soldered as designated by numeral 76 to front frame member 60 of subframe assembly 58. An additional reinforcement plate 78 or lock nut 80 may be utilized to reinforce the attachment of axle 70 to subframe assembly 58. While axle 70 is generally described as being formed of an elongated cylindrical rod, it will be appreciated that it may have virtually any other shape. As described below, however, it is preferable that axle 70 is at least round in cross section near the end that passes through aperture 72 in front frame member 46 so as to allow rotation of axle 70 within aperture 72.

[0047] To allow subframe assembly 56 to be moved and then locked into a tilted position, a fin 82 extends radially outward from a portion of axle 70 for fitting within and engaging respective key slots 84 a-84 c. As best illustrated in FIG. 8, one key slot 84 b would extend vertically upward without inclination, which would represent the key slot in which fin 82 should be inserted to maintain subframe assembly 58 in a level horizontal position, whereas key slots 84 aand 84 c are inclined such that when fin 82 is slid into one of these key slots, subframe assembly 58 is tilted into one of the respective positions shown in FIGS. 4 and 5. With fin 82 firmly secured within one of slots 84 a-84 c, subframe assembly 58 and mattress portion 20 will be locked in a level or tilted position.

[0048] To allow fin 82 to be moved between slots 84 a-84 c while preventing accidental unlocking of the position of subframe assembly 58, a compression spring 86 may be provided around rod 70 in between front frame member 46 of mattress frame 44 and front frame member 60 of subframe assembly 58. This compression spring biases frame members 46 and 60 apart, thereby drawing fin 82 towards the front surface of frame member 46 so as to pull fin 82 within one of slots 84 a-84 c when aligned therewith. To limit the distance in which fin 82 extends through or past front frame member 46, a second fin 88 having a flat surface 90 is provided in an opposite side of axle 70 than fin 82 so as to be pulled against the front surface of front frame member 46 and thereby keep axle 70 from extending too far past front frame member 46. Compression spring 86 should therefore have sufficient compressive force to securely hold fin 82 within one of slots 84 a-84 c while nevertheless allowing a person to grasp handle 74 and exert a sufficient pulling force to pull fin 82 far enough outside one of key slots 84 a-84 c and rotate the handle such that fin 82 will fit within a different one of slots 84 a-84 c.

[0049] Although the first embodiment has been described as using a single handle and axle to simultaneously tilt one side of second mattress portion 20 up/down while tilting the other side down/up, it will be appreciated that subframe assembly 58 could be hinged or separated into two side portions and separate handles and axles or other mechanisms could be provided to independently tilt upwards the two sides of second mattress portion 20. Additionally, virtually any known mechanism for laterally tilting a mattress may be used to tilt second mattress portion 20. See, for example, U.S. Pat. Nos. 1,021,335; 3,013,281; 3,462,777; and 5,640,729, which disclose various mechanisms for laterally tilting all or most of a mattress or sleeping surface used for adults.

[0050] As mentioned above, the inventive method may further be implemented using a bed configured to tilt the shoulders of the infant while keeping its head on a level surface. To keep the infant from sliding across the tilted mattress portion, the mattress may be contoured to the shape of the infant similar to that shown in FIG. 16. More specifically, a contoured indentation in the upper mattress surface may be provided for one or preferably both the level and tilted mattress portions.

[0051]FIGS. 9 and 10 illustrate a second embodiment of the present invention. According to this embodiment, a foam wedge 100 having an inclined surface 102, a bottom surface 104, and a side surface 106 is placed on top of a conventional mattress 108. Thus, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the wedge may provide an inclined surface similar to the inclined surface provided by the second mattress portion 20 of the first embodiment. To change the direction in which surface 102 is tilted, one would simply pick up wedge 100 and align side surface 106 with the other side surface of conventional mattress 108. Wedge 100 should have surface 102 inclined at such an angle that makes it difficult for an infant to turn its head once laid with the side of its head on inclined surface 102. Wedge 100 should have a width that extends more than half the width of mattress 108 to ensure the infant does not slide down the inclined surface 102 off of wedge 100 and onto the flat portion of mattress 108. On the other hand, wedge 100 cannot be so wide as to provide too large of a distance between the thickest portion of wedge 100 and the upper surface of mattress 108. Wedge 100 may be placed under the head or shoulders of the infant.

[0052] Wedge 100 offers the advantage that the structure of the infant bed need not be modified to provide the advantages of the invention and allow for the practice of the inventive method. Further, wedge 100 may be picked up and moved to any infant bed or other structure in which the infant may be placed for resting.

[0053]FIG. 11 shows a third embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, this mattress structure includes a first mattress portion 18 similar to that used in the first embodiment, which has a flat upper surface 24 that is maintained in a generally flat horizontal position. In place of second portion 20, which is otherwise a flat mattress portion, a wedge-shaped mattress portion 110 may be utilized. Such a structure could be used in a conventional infant crib without modification to the mattress support structure. In this case, the wedge-shaped portion 110 may simply be reoriented every night, such that its inclined surface 112 is inclined to opposite sides each night. As shown in FIG. 11, the wedge-shaped mattress portion 110 may have a flat upper surface portion 114 on one side so as to prevent the distance between upper surface 24 and the upper surface of wedge-shaped mattress portion 110 from becoming too great near the side edges. A similar flat surface could be provided at the other end again to reduce the surface height differential between the mattress portions.

[0054] FIGS. 19-21 show a fourth embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, this mattress structure includes a first mattress portion 18 similar to that used in the first embodiment, which has a flat upper surface that is maintained in a generally flat horizontal position. In at least the second portion 20, a soft, stretchable or pliable foam or fabric material may be used. A force applying device 400 is positioned under the second portion 20 to apply an upward force on at least one portion of the second portion 20 thereby inclining the second portion. The force applying device 400 preferably includes a rotating member 402 with a handle 404, a base 406, and at least two upwardly extending force applying members 408. In operation one need only turn the handle 404 clockwise or counterclockwise to “see-saw” the base and thereby cause the upwardly extending members to apply an upward force to at least two portions of the second portion 20 thereby resulting in an inclined surface.

[0055] Although the structures used to serve as the means for providing and tilting a sleeping surface on which an infant's head is laid have been illustrated and described as manually manipulated structures, it will be appreciated that an automated system could be provided utilizing an electrical motor or the like to automatically tilt the sleeping surface for the infant's head. Using such automated means would allow the tilted surface to be tilted to different sides at periodic intervals throughout a single night. Alternatively, such automated means could be programmed to automatically tilt the bed surface portion to different sides each night so that the parent or guardian of the infant would not have to remember to reposition the tilting mechanism each night.

[0056] As mentioned above and explained in more detail below, the present invention also relates to a garment used in conjunction with an inclined torso supporting member and a method of treating, preventing, and reducing the risk of positional plagiocephaly in infants. The method may be practiced using the inventive infant garment and the inclined torso supporting member. In general, the method involves utilizing the infant garment and the inclined torso supporting member such that the infant's torso, and thereby its head, is alternated in position based upon the incline of the torso supporting element. By utilizing the garment with its inclined torso supporting member, a parent or caretaker may regulate and alternate which side of the infant's head contacts the sleeping surface. Because the infant generally lacks the muscles to move its head to sleep on the other side of its head against the slope of the inclined torso supporting member, the infant will not sleep on the other side of its head. In this manner, the infant will sleep on one side of its head one night, and sleep on the other side of its head on the next night in a controlled manner. By alternating the side of the infant's head on which the infant sleeps each night (or on some other periodic basis), the infant will not develop the flat spots in its skull that are symptomatic of positional plagiocephaly.

[0057] As seen in FIG. 12, the infant garment 210 of the present invention includes an upper torso portion 212 and a lower limb portion 214. The infant garment 210 may be made of any suitable material, but preferably is made of a soft material including cotton, polyester, or other, preferably fire retardant, fabric material. The infant garment may optionally include a inclined member receiving pocket 216 integrated into or engaged to the back of upper torso portion 212 of the infant garment 210. The inclined member receiving pocket 216 receives the inclined member 218. In an alternative embodiment, a fastening system, such as, hook and loop fasteners, snaps, buttons, zipper(s), or another fastening material, may be used to engage the inclined member receiving pocket or the inclined member itself to the infant garment. Velcrog® brand hook and loop fasteners are the most preferred fastening system.

[0058] In another embodiment, the inclined member receiving pocket 216 is unnecessary as the inclined member is directly fastened to the infant garment 210 by any one of the fastening systems outlined above. FIG. 12 shows the use of a hook and loop or other fastening system 220, in phantom, to engage the inclined member to the infant garment. The location of the fastening system is not essential to the invention, but the inclined member preferably should be releaseably, but securely engaged to the infant garment whether the inclined member is directly engaged to the garment or the inclined member receiving pocket is utilized.

[0059] The inclined member may alternatively be more permanently sewn into the garment and then used in conjunction with one or more similar garments providing opposite inclination angles.

[0060] The method of the present invention may be implemented using a variety of different means. The infant garment provides an inclined support surface under the upper torso of the infant. Next, the adult selectively places the infant in at sleeping position such that the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in a first sleeping position (FIG. 13A). Prior to a subsequent sleeping period, the inclined member may be disengaged with the infant garment and reengaged in a second position such that the adult may place the infant in a sleeping position where the inclined member forces the infant to sleep with the infant's head in a second position (see FIG. 13B). The variation in the infant's head position between sleeping positions prevents plagiocephaly. Significantly, while many successive nights in a first sleeping position are not desirable, it is not necessary that the sleeping position be alternated between the first sleeping position and the second sleeping position every time the infant sleeps.

[0061] The inclined member 218 (FIG. 15) need only provide a sufficient incline to raise one shoulder of the infant relative to the infant's other shoulder to force the infants head into the first sleeping position or the second sleeping position depending on the angle of the incline employed. The inclined member 218 is preferably manufactured from foam, but could conceivably be manufactured from plastic, wood, or metal. Foam is most desirable because of its softness. If other harder materials are used to construct the inclined member 218, the inclined member 218 may be at least partially covered in a soft liner or covering material, which is preferably a closable pocket to encase the inclined member and provide added cushioning material. When such an inclined member liner material is utilized, it is separate from the inclined member receiving pocket 216, which may be incorporated into or used in conjunction with the infant garment 210. The inclined member receiving pocket should preferably be made of any soft material, most preferably, cotton and like fabrics.

[0062] Although the upper support surface of inclined member 218 is shown as being planar, it could be curved and contoured to a shape corresponding to the infant's back. Also, although the inclined member is shown as only engaging the infant's shoulders and upper torso, the inclined member may be of any suitable size to move the infant's head. Accordingly, the inclined member could also engage the infant's neck or head.

[0063] Moreover, as seen in FIGS. 16-18, the method of treating/preventing positional plagiocephaly may also utilize a novel support surface 300 adapted to retain the infant in a predetermined location on the support surface even when, as shown in FIGS. 17-18, the support surface is tilted. The support surface may utilize an essentially permanent cavity 302 or the support surface may itself be made of a relatively deformable foam or foam-like material that operates to retain the infant by forming a cavity, which substantially fits the infant. In this embodiment, the infant's own body weight operates to at least partially deform the support surface when the infant is placed on the support surface.

[0064] The above description is considered that of the preferred embodiments only. Modification of the invention will occur to those skilled in the art and to those who make or use the invention. Therefore, it is understood that the embodiments shown in the drawings and described above are merely for illustrative purposes and not intended to limit the scope of the invention, which is defined by the following claims as interpreted according to the principles of patent law, including the doctrine of equivalents.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7171710Sep 22, 2004Feb 6, 2007Mann Robert JSystem having a tiltable sleeping surface and method for preventing positional plagiocephaly
US7647660Mar 10, 2007Jan 19, 2010Tullous Micam WMattress incorporating a headrest for preventing and correcting non-synostotic cranial deformities in infants
US8590536Feb 19, 2010Nov 26, 2013Micam W. TullousLateral support craniocervical orthosis and method
US8758283Mar 28, 2012Jun 24, 2014Boston BraceOrthotic device for preventing and/or correcting deformational posterior plagiocephaly
US20130104279 *Mar 15, 2012May 2, 2013Anthony Galli, JR.Repositioning garment
EP1795090A1 *Dec 7, 2006Jun 13, 2007Numeda GmbHDevice for supporting new-borns
EP1864630A1 *Jun 8, 2007Dec 12, 2007Micam Wade TullousMattress incorporating a headrest for preventing and correcting non-synostotic cranial deformities in infants
WO2006026764A1 *Aug 31, 2005Mar 9, 2006Childrens Hospital BostonHead positioning device
WO2011085132A1 *Jan 6, 2011Jul 14, 2011University Of Kentucky Research FoundationGarment and garment system
Classifications
U.S. Classification5/655, 5/93.1, 2/69.5
International ClassificationA61G7/07, A61G7/057, A47D7/03
Cooperative ClassificationA47D7/03, A61G7/072, A61G7/0573
European ClassificationA47D7/03