Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20040003514 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/190,653
Publication dateJan 8, 2004
Filing dateJul 8, 2002
Priority dateJul 8, 2002
Publication number10190653, 190653, US 2004/0003514 A1, US 2004/003514 A1, US 20040003514 A1, US 20040003514A1, US 2004003514 A1, US 2004003514A1, US-A1-20040003514, US-A1-2004003514, US2004/0003514A1, US2004/003514A1, US20040003514 A1, US20040003514A1, US2004003514 A1, US2004003514A1
InventorsGary Cole
Original AssigneeCole Gary P.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Foot orthosis
US 20040003514 A1
Abstract
A foot orthosis provides for a plurality of fluid or air-filled support pads or bladders attached to or incorporated within an insole in an arrangement to provide support for the foot at various points along the bottom of the foot. It also provides means for adjusting the amount of cushioning effect in each of the bladders, by inflation and deflation as desired or required. The foot orthosis can be used with a wide variety of footwear and can be used by a wide variety of patients for a wide variety of foot conditions. The present invention is also easily and readily adjustable so that it can be fitted by a foot specialist, by a store clerk or by the patient required to use them.
Images(3)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(19)
Based on the foregoing I claim the following:
1. A foot orthosis comprising
a generally foot shaped insole having a forefoot area, an arch area, an inside edge, an outside edge and a heel area, and one or more of the following
a first inflatable bladder integrally formed with the insole, said first bladder being located between the forefoot area and the arch area and generally between the inside edge and the outside edge of the insole,
a second inflatable bladder integrally formed with the insole, said second bladder being located between the forefoot area and the heel area adjacent the inside edge of the insole, or
a third inflatable bladder integrally formed with the insole, said third bladder being located in the heel area of the insole and having a first arm extending forwardly along a portion of the inside edge of the insole, a second arm extending forwardly along the outside edge of the sole and an arcuate ring on the back of the heel area connecting the first and second arm.
2. The foot orthosis of claim 1 wherein each inflatable bladder includes means for alternately permitting or restricting flow into and out of the bladder.
3. The foot orthosis of claim 2 wherein each bladder flow means comprises a valve that alternately permits or restricts the flow of air into and out of the bladder.
4. The foot orthosis of claim 1 wherein all three bladders are formed as part of the insole.
5. The foot orthosis of claim 2 wherein each bladder flow means comprises a valve that alternatively permits or restricts the flow of any gaseous, liquid or semisolid substance into and out of the bladder.
6. A foot orthosis comprising
a soft generally foot shaped insole having a forefoot area, an arch area, an inside, an outside and a heel area,
a metatarsal arch air bladder attached to the insole between the forefoot area and the arch area and generally between the inside and the outside of the insole,
a longitudinal arch air bladder attached to the insole between the forefoot area and the heel area on the inside of the insole, and
a horseshoe-shaped heel air bladder attached to the heel area of the insole having
a first arm extending forwardly along the inside periphery of the insole, a second arm extending forwardly along the outside periphery of the sole and a ring on the back of the heel area connecting the first and second arm.
7. The foot orthosis of claim 6 wherein each of the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the horseshoe-shaped air bladder has a means for alternately permitting or restricting the flow of air into and out of the air bladder.
8. The foot orthosis system of claim 7 wherein each of the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the horseshoe-shaped air bladder has a valve that alternately permits or restricts the flow of air into and out of the air bladder.
9. The foot orthosis of claim 7 wherein each bladder flow means comprises a valve that alternatively permits or restricts the flow of any gaseous, liquid or semisolid substance into and out of the bladder.
10. A foot orthotic system comprising
a soft generally foot shaped insole having a forefoot area, an arch area, an inside, an outside and a heel area,
a metatarsal arch air bladder attached to the insole between the forefoot area and the arch area and generally between the inside and the outside of the insole, said metatarsal arch bladder being generally in the shape of a rounded triangle,
a longitudinal arch air bladder attached to the insole between the forefoot area and the heel area on the inside of the insole said longitudinal arch air bladder having one side generally following the insole curve on the arch side and a second generally semi-circular side extending into, and
a horseshoe-shaped heel air bladder attached to the heel area of the insole having a first arm extending forwardly along the inside periphery of the insole, a second arm extending forwardly along the outside periphery of the sole and a ring on the back of the heel area connecting the first and second arm.
11. The foot orthotic system of claim 10 wherein each of the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the horseshoe-shaped air bladder has a means for alternately permitting or restricting the flow of air into and out of the air bladder.
12. The foot orthotic system of claim 11 wherein each of the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the horseshoe-shaped air bladder each have a valve that alternately permits or restricts the flow of air into and out of the air bladder.
13. A foot orthosis comprising
a generally foot shaped insole, said insole having a forefoot area, an arch area, an outer edge and a heel area, and
a horseshoe-shaped heel bladder formed within the heel area of the insole having a first arm extending forwardly along a portion of the outer edge of the insole, a second arm extending forwardly along another portion of the outer edge of the insole and an arcuate ring along another portion of the outer edge and on the back of the heel area connecting the first and second arm.
14. The foot orthosis of claim 13 including
a metatarsal arch bladder formed within the insole between the forefoot area and the arch area and generally within the outer edge of the insole, and
a longitudinal arch bladder formed within the insole between the forefoot area and
the heel area adjacent the outer edge of the insole.
15. The foot orthosis of claim 14 wherein each of the metatarsal bladder, the longitudinal bladder and the horseshoe-shaped bladder has a means for alternately permitting or restricting the flow of air into and out of the bladder.
16. The foot orthosis of claim 15 wherein each of the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the horseshoe-shaped air bladder each have a valve that alternately permits or restricts the flow of air into and out of the air bladder.
17. The foot orthosis of claim 16 wherein the metatarsal air bladder, the longitudinal air bladder and the heel air bladder are individually formed and attached to the insole.
18. The foot orthosis of claim 14 wherein each of the metatarsal bladder, the longitudinal bladder and the horseshoe-shaped bladder has a means for alternately permitting or restricting the flow of a gaseous, liquid or semisolid substance into and out of the bladder.
19. The foot orthosis of claim 18 wherein each of the metatarsal bladder, the longitudinal bladder and the horseshoe-shaped bladder each have a valve that alternately permits or restricts the flow of a gaseous, liquid or semisolid substance into and out of the bladder.
Description
FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0001] The present invention relates generally to the human foot, to footwear intended to be worn over the human foot, and to orthoses, or orthopedic appliances or devices, interposed between the foot and the footwear for aiding in foot support, for promoting foot comfort and health, or for correcting and preventing foot deformities. More particularly, it relates to a variably inflatable orthosis intended for placement within a wide variety of articles of footwear to provide added comfort or pain relief to the feet of a wide variety of users.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] People today generally are forced to walk and run on unnatural, flat surfaces in footgear that is largely manufactured to accommodate the “average foot.” Obviously, the “average foot” exists only in the manufacturer's mind and most everyone suffers to some degree from poorly fitting shoes either because the footgear wasn't designed with comfort in mind or because people's feet simply aren't perfect. Fashionable footgear often sacrifices comfort by designers who clearly value the outward beauty of a particular shoe over the level of comfort it provides. Other persons experience the pain of ill-fitting shoes because they were born with, or have over time developed, some sort of foot deformity to one degree or another. Some people may actually sustain injury from years of walking and exercising over the concrete and other artificial surfaces wearing ill-fitting footwear. For example, problems of the heel bone, or calcaneus, are very prominent among the problems faced by walkers and joggers. Ill fitting shoes, being overweight, biomechanical problems, gout, pronation, vascular problems, diabetes and arthritis can all bring on or worsen foot and heel problems.

[0003] Pain in the midfoot and forefoot, in the area of the sesamoid, the metatarsal and the cuneiform bones, is one such common area of complaint. Heel pain, however, is the single most common foot complaint expressed to doctors in this country. Heel spurs and plantar fascitis are particularly common ailments of those who exercise. Frequently people afflicted with these conditions liken their first step of the morning to stepping down onto a needle. Along with treatment of the underlying problem, i.e. surgical intervention, orthoses are the first line of treatment for many of these problems.

[0004] Podiatrists frequently prescribe rigid and semi-rigid orthotic devices to treat many kinds of foot and heel pain. In general, to build an orthosis, the patient's foot is cast using a plaster material. An orthosis is then constructed to fit the contours of the foot, to correct any deformities or biomechanical problems the patient might have, and to improve the function of the movable parts of the foot. Because each orthotic device is, in effect, custom manufactured, fitting them is a lengthy and costly process requiring highly trained individuals and a manufacturer able to produce the various sizes and shapes of orthotic devices required by different individuals. Drawbacks to customized orthotic devices are obvious and generally include high cost and production time.

[0005] Alternatives to custom orthoses include “off-the-shelf” arch supports as well as placing premolded materials within the footgear. In the inventor's experience, these types of orthotic devices generally offer additional padding and cushioning but provide little benefit in terms of long-term pain relief or rehabilitative effect. Moreover, the problems faced by the patient typically do not have a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

[0006] Perhaps most importantly, these and other methods known to this inventor are based on the general belief that foot pain or discomfort can be alleviated through the use of increased cushioning and padding that is situated directly underneath the weight bearing areas of the foot that are symptomatic. Unfortunately, this thinking tends to create more pain to the already inflamed or tender part of the foot. What is needed is a device for shifting an individual's weight off of the extremely sensitive area of the foot to other less sensitive load-bearing areas of the foot. In this respect, the device of the present invention substantially departs from the concepts and designs of the prior art.

[0007] The foot orthosis of the present invention overcomes the limitations of prior devices and is of a novel and unique design. As described above, and in the experience of the inventor, orthotic devices and orthoses frequently have a common failing. In general, previous orthotic devices and orthoses have been designed in an attempt to pad or cushion an inflamed and tender, or injured, area of the patient's foot. In the inventor's experience, most inflammations and injuries require a device that actually redistributes weight such that the inflamed or injured area is permitted to heal without bearing much, if any, of a person's weight. In the inventor's view, there is a long felt need for a device that effectively handles the weight of a patient and redistributes a person's bodyweight such that the inflamed area or injury is permitted to heal. On a more permanent basis, there is also a need for such a device that accomplishes foot comfort and realignment for deformities while improving the function of the movable parts of the foot. There is also a need to provide such a device that can be readily adjustable so as to be usable by a number of patients or by a single patient under a variety of different conditions.

OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION

[0008] It is a first object of the present invention to provide a new and unique foot orthosis that is usable and adaptable for a wide range of people with varying problems. It is yet another object of the present invention to provide a novel foot orthosis that can be easily manufactured and marketed. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide such an orthosis that is constructed of a durable and reliable design. Still another object of the present invention is to provide a foot orthosis having a plurality of chambers defined within it, each of said chambers being individually inflatable. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a foot orthosis where each chamber defined within it can be inflated, partially or completely, using air, fluid or some other moldable or pliable material. Still another object of the present invention is to provide a foot orthosis where each chamber can also be easily and readily deflated, completely or partially, as such is desired or required. A further object of the present invention is to provide such a foot orthosis that is quickly and easily adjustable by the patient or by a foot specialist fitting the device to a patient.

[0009] The device of the present invention has obtained these objects. It provides for a new and unique arrangement of fluid or air-filled support pads or bladders attached to or incorporated within an insole in an arrangement to provide support for the foot at various points along the bottom of the foot. It also provides for such a device that relieves pressure from inflamed or injured portions of the foot. The present invention provides a means for adjusting the amount of cushioning effect in each of the bladders, by inflation and deflation as desired or required. The present invention also provides a foot orthosis that can be used with a wide variety of footwear and that can be used by a wide variety of patients. The present invention is also easily and readily adjustable so that it can be fitted by a foot specialist, by a store clerk or by the patient required to use them. These, along with other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent throughout the detailed description that follows. Further objects and advantages will become apparent through use of the invention.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0010]FIG. 1 is a top plan view of a foot orthosis that is constructed in accordance with the present invention.

[0011]FIG. 2 is a left side elevational view of the foot orthosis illustrated in FIG. 1.

[0012]FIG. 3 is a rear elevational and partially sectioned view of the foot orthosis taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2 and showing a user's heel as it would rest upon one of the inflatable bladders or pads of the device.

[0013]FIG. 4 is another rear elevational and sectioned view of the foot orthosis taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2 and showing the varying heights of the pads of the device.

[0014]FIG. 5 is yet another rear elevational and sectioned view of the foot orthosis taken along line 5-5 of FIG. 2 and showing the varying heights of the pads, comparing and contrasting them with those shown in FIG. 4. In comparing the two views it is to be noted that amount of material in the pads can be varied depending on the requirements of the patient.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0015] The following detailed description is intended to describe the preferred embodiments that are depicted in the figures. It is to be understood that changes could be made to that which is specifically described and shown that would still fall within the scope of the present invention.

[0016] Some basic foot architecture is required to explain and understand the device of the present invention more fully. The forefoot is the front part of the foot that bears weight and incorporates the metatarsal bones and the cuneiform bones. The longitudinal arch, or the arcus pedis longitudinalis, is the area between the forefoot and the heel, or calcaneus, to the inside of the leg. The heel is the load bearing area at the back of the foot.

[0017] Referring now to the drawings in detail, wherein like numbered elements refer to like elements throughout, FIG. 1 is an illustration showing the basic components of the device of the present invention. In summary, the device of the present invention comprises a pliable insole, generally identified 10, and generally in the shape of a left-sided human foot, such insole 10 having a top planar surface 11 and a bottom planar surface 13. See FIG. 2. When used as intended, the top planar surface 11 of the insole 10 lies adjacent the user's foot whereas the bottom planar surface 13 overlays the inside bottom of the footwear with which the insole 10 is used. The area of the insole 10 is defined by an outer perimeter or edge 15, including an inside edge 17 and an outside edge 19. The insole 10 also includes a forward insole portion 12, a central insole portion 14, a central instep portion 16, and a heel portion 18. The insole 10 further includes a metatarsal arch pad 20, a longitudinal arch pad 30 and a heel pad 40, although other pads could be employed to solve individual patient's problems. The pliable insole 10 is shown to be of a given thickness for explanation purposes only. It is to be understood, however, that the insole 10 itself could be a very thin, single layer piece of plastic material to which the pads 20, 30, 40 are attached. The pads 20, 30, 40 could also be integrally formed with the thin plastic material. The insole 10 could also be fabricated as a thicker layer of pliable material into which the pads 20, 30, 40 are incorporated. It is also to be understood that the pads 20, 30, 40 are each individually inflatable and deflatable. For purposes of discussion, but not in limitation of the device of the present invention, it will be assumed that each pad 20, 30, 40 is in the form of a walled chamber that is inflated with air.

[0018] The pliable insole 10 of the present invention is designed for optimal conditioning and support. As alluded to earlier, the insole 10 is formed generally in the shape of the mythical “average foot.” This average foot fits into most footwear, different only by size. The plurality of differently sized and shaped pads 20, 30, 40, or air pockets, are then used to provide a custom fit for an individual's foot. They are also used to provide varying degrees of inflation as such is desired or required.

[0019] In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 and 2, the plurality of air pockets 20, 30, 40 are integrally formed with the insole 10 such that the entire molding is just one piece. In this case the insole 10 must provide adequate cushioning in areas without air pockets 20, 30, 40. Some acceptable materials could include soft, flexible plastics and foam rubber, although a multitude of other possibilities exist. The device of the present invention could even be used with a rigid or semi-rigid orthotic to treat a patient's condition.

[0020] In general, one pad 20 should be situated immediately behind the metatarsals. The metatarsals are the long, thin bones of the foot between the tarsus and the phalanges, or toe bones. In the pictured embodiment, the metatarsal arch pad 20 located towards the central portion 14 of the insole 10 provides support under the forward portion of the patient's arch thus spreading the person's weight over a larger area of the forefoot and removing direct pressure on the metatarsals. The metatarsal arch pad 20 can be formed integrally with the insole 10 or as an attachment to the insole 10. In either case, the metatarsal arch pad 20 includes a lower pad membrane 22 and an upper pad membrane 24. The edges 26 of the upper and lower pad membranes 22, 24 are sealingly engaged to provide an air-tight pocket. The upper pad membrane 24 includes a two-way valve 28 that permits inflation and deflation of the metatarsal arch pad 20 with air. See FIG. 5. The valve 28 may also be used to introduce or remove other liquids and gases. In fact, other liquids, such as gels may be preferable for heavier patients.

[0021] The insole 10 of the present invention also provides for a longitudinal arch pad 30. The longitudinal arch pad 30 generally covers the entire area of a person's arch and is situated at the instep portion 16 of the insole 10. The pictured embodiment is typical of the inventor's vision for the arch pad 30 and includes a lower pad membrane 32, an upper pad membrane 34, the upper and lower pad membranes 34, 34 being sealingly engaged about their perimeter 36, and a two-way valve 38. The arch pad 30 can obviously be produced in different sizes and shapes to accommodate different needs. The arch pad 30 also features the valve 38 that permits inflation and deflation of the pad 30 with air. See FIG. 4. The arch pad 30, like the other pads, can also be used to hold other gases and liquids to provide differing levels of support.

[0022] The device of the present invention also provides a heel pad 40 that is located at the heel portion 18 of the insole 10. The heel pad 40 of the present invention is a more involved structure than that of the other pads 20, 30 for the reason that it is designed to redistribute an individual's weight away from the center area of the heel 50, which is normally the load bearing area, to the perimeter of the heel 52. See FIG. 3. In the experience of this inventor, the center area of the heel 50 is an area likely to be affected by heel spurs and plantar fascitis, which, either separately, or in combination can make walking extremely painful.

[0023] The heel pad 40 includes arm portions 41, 42 and a central arcuate ring portion 43 much in the shape of a horseshoe, the idea being that the heel pad 40 support the perimeter 52 of the heel 50. It is important to provide a heel pad 40 that is stiff enough to support the heel 50 without permitting the center of the heel 50 to drop substantially below the arms 41, 42 and the arcuate ring 43 of the heel pad 40 thereby exposing the heel 50 to substantial weight bearing. The heel pad 40 also includes an upper pad membrane 44, a lower pad membrane 45, the upper and lower pad membranes 44, 45 being sealingly engaged about their perimeters 46, and a two-way valve 48.

[0024] A preferred embodiment of the present invention is pictured in FIGS. 1 through 5. In application of this preferred embodiment, one can see that the metatarsal arch pad 20 is generally in the shape of a rounded triangle with a first rounded corner 21 between the arch and the forefoot on the inside of the foot, a second rounded corner 23 between the forefoot and the tarsus and a third rounded corner 25 toward the heel and between the first corner 21 and the second corner 23. As can be seen in FIG. 2, the metatarsal arch pad 20 can be infinitely adjustable by varying the amount of air within the air bladder 20.

[0025] In the preferred embodiment, the longitudinal arch pad 30 stretches along the instep portion 16 of the insole 10 and makes a semicircular curve outwardly underneath the arch area of the foot. The height of the arch pad 30 can also be adjusted by varying the amount of air within the air bladder 30. The preferred embodiment of the heel pad 40 is shaped generally like a horseshoe, although other shapes could accomplish the same purpose. The fit of the heel pad 40 is very important. Generally, the bladder of the heel pad 40 must be stiffer and stronger than the other bladders due to the weight of the person being directly on top of it. Fit is important because the object of the invention is to provide a pad that prohibits the painful, center area 52 of the heel 50 from bearing weight. It is therefore important to make sure that the arms 41, 42 of the horseshoe are not so wide that the person's heel 50 falls between the arms 41, 42 and the central ring 43 of the horseshoe and contacts the insole 10. An alternative embodiment that could be considered to replace the heel pad 40 as shown would involve a plurality of heel pad segments (not shown), each segment being used to support one area of the perimeter 52 of a person's heel 50.

[0026] Obviously, the pads or air bladders 20, 30, 40 utilized in the device of the present invention can take on many different sizes and the inventor does not intend to place any limitation on his invention regarding the specific size and shape of any of the air bladders. The above-described shapes and sizes are merely intended to illustrate and not to limit the present invention.

[0027] The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. It is to be understood that the above-described invention is not limited to the precise details of the structure shown and set forth in this specification or their obvious variants. Based on the foregoing, it will be obvious that there has been provided a new and unique foot orthosis that is usable and adaptable for a wide range of people with varying problems; that can be easily manufactured and marketed; that is constructed of a durable and reliable design; that has a plurality of chambers defined within it, each of said chambers being individually inflatable; where each chamber defined within it can be inflated, partially or completely, using air, fluid or some other moldable or pliable material; where each chamber can also be easily and readily deflated, completely or partially, as such is desired or required; and that is quickly and easily adjustable by the patient or by a foot specialist fitting the device to a patient.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6990756Nov 22, 2004Jan 31, 2006Sylmark Holdings LimitedFootwear orthotic with insert
US7900380Oct 13, 2005Mar 8, 2011Masterfit Enterprises Inc.User moldable adjustable insert
US20120042537 *Aug 16, 2011Feb 23, 2012Vito DimatteoSandal with pneumatic support
US20130180128 *Jan 13, 2012Jul 18, 2013Teng Jen YANGMiddle Sole With Cushioning Effect
EP2136666A1 *Apr 18, 2007Dec 30, 2009Craig Douglas WestinDevice for providing self-adjustable arch-support and method making the same
WO2007111922A2 *Mar 22, 2007Oct 4, 2007Brent Parks GAdjustable pneumatic cell foot orthosis
WO2008130401A1 *Apr 18, 2007Oct 30, 2008Norman E RubyDevice for providing self-adjustable arch-support and method making the same
Classifications
U.S. Classification36/43, 36/29, 36/153
International ClassificationA43B17/03
Cooperative ClassificationA43B7/144, A43B7/1465, A43B17/035, A43B7/142, A43B7/1445
European ClassificationA43B7/14A20A, A43B7/14A20M, A43B7/14A20H, A43B7/14A30R, A43B17/03P