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Publication numberUS20050097659 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 10/703,066
Publication dateMay 12, 2005
Filing dateNov 6, 2003
Priority dateNov 6, 2003
Also published asWO2005046373A1
Publication number10703066, 703066, US 2005/0097659 A1, US 2005/097659 A1, US 20050097659 A1, US 20050097659A1, US 2005097659 A1, US 2005097659A1, US-A1-20050097659, US-A1-2005097659, US2005/0097659A1, US2005/097659A1, US20050097659 A1, US20050097659A1, US2005097659 A1, US2005097659A1
InventorsMaya Aroch, Steven Fitting, Bryon Day
Original AssigneeKimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Protective garment with elastomeric elbow patches
US 20050097659 A1
Abstract
A protective garment, such as a surgical gown, includes areas subjected to tensile stretching forces when worn by a wearer. Such areas may correspond to elbow regions of the garment. Elastomeric patches are provided in at least one of the identified areas subjected to the tensile stretching forces, the elastomeric patches being generally surrounded by the remaining garment material.
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Claims(14)
1. A protective garment comprising:
a body having a closed front,
an open back,
sleeve openings defined by the front and back portions,
sleeves attached at a first end to the sleeve openings and terminating in cuffs at a second end, each sleeve having a front surface and a back surface corresponding generally to an anterior and posterior portion of a wearer's arm, each sleeve further comprising a non-elastomeric material, and
a patch of elastomeric material formed into each of the sleeves at the back surface, each patch, respectively being attached to the non-elastomeric material comprising each respective sleeve.
2. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch has a dimension between about 2 inches and about 10 inches.
3. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch extends from a point above the wearer's elbow and terminates on the sleeve proximal to the cuff.
4. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch comprises between about one quarter to about three quarter's the entire sleeve length.
5. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch comprises a circumferential band around the sleeve.
6. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is generally circular and covers an elbow portion of the sleeve.
7. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is generally an elongated trapezoidal profile with a straight edge that has a length generally paralleling the length of the sleeve.
8. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is greater in a longitudinal dimension than in a lateral dimension.
9. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is greater in a lateral dimension than in a longitudinal dimension.
10. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is stretchable in a longitudinal direction.
11. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch is formed of a necked-bonded laminate.
12. The garment of claim 1, wherein each patch forms a part of the cuff.
13. The garment of claim 1, wherein the patches are affixed to the sleeve by at least one of ultrasonic bonding, taping, mechanical adhesion, chemical adhesion, thermal adhesion, tape, and stitching.
14. The garment of claim 1, wherein the garment is a surgical gown.
Description
BACKGROUND

The present invention relates generally to the field of protective garments, and more particularly to an improved surgical gown configuration. Protective garments such as surgical gowns are well known. The usefulness of these garments is generally influenced by a number of factors, such as breathability, resistance to fluid flow, barrier protection qualities, etc. Comfort of the garment is also an important factor. For example, a surgical gown must be comfortable to a person wearing the garment for extended hours.

Factors affecting the comfort of the garment include the stretch properties, softness, and breathability of the garment material. Materials that are soft, stretchable, and breathable are typically more comfortable than materials that do not have those characteristics.

Conventional disposable surgical gowns are commonly constructed from a nonwoven fabric. The gown body section is generally a singular piece of material, or is composed of a number of panels of material attached together, for example, a front panel and attached side panels that also define a back section of the gown. Sleeves are attached to the gown body by any number of known techniques. An example of a surgical gown made using raglan-type sleeves attached to a one piece gown body is the Lightweight Gown (product code 90751) from Kimberly-Clark, Corp. of Neenah, Wis., USA.

When a gown of this type is donned and the wearer bends his arms, for instance, during a surgical procedure, the fabric at the elbow area is tensioned and felt as a restrictive force against the wearer's arms, oftentimes causing the sleeves of the gown to ride up on the wearer's arms. this situation could potentially compromise the gown by causing it to tear at the elbow. Worse, it could potentially compromise the wearer by exposing him to bodily fluids during a surgical procedure. For example, bodily fluids could be enabled to breach the glove-gown interface by flowing between the retracted gown sleeve and the glove cuff.

A common method to attempt to reduce or relieve these restrictive forces is to incorporate more fabric in the areas placed under tension, such as via pleats, or inserted secondary patches. Another approach suggested in the art is to construct the gown body out of an elastomeric or recoverable-stretch material so that when the fabric is subjected to the restrictive forces (the forces encountered by a non-elastomeric fabric), the fabric elongates. Various elastomeric nonwoven materials and fabrics are available for such purpose, including laminates of a nonwoven web and elastomeric film.

A drawback of making the entire gown body, or entire panel portions, of an elastomeric material is that such materials are significantly more costly, and thus add to the overall cost of the product and healthcare in general. The present invention relates to a unique configuration for a protective garment, particularly a surgical gown, that has the benefits of elastomeric materials incorporated into the elbow area without the significant cost associated with conventional elastomeric material gowns.

SUMMARY

Objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through practice of the invention.

The present invention relates to a unique configuration for a protective garment, particularly a surgical gown, wherein patches of extensible material are selectively provided in the elbow region of the gown to compensate for these areas of maximum stress or areas subjected to a maximum stretching force when worn by a wearer. These extensible patch areas are completely surrounded by the remaining material of the gown (generally a non-extensible material) and, thus, may be thought of as “islands” of extensible material strategically located in the gown.

Thus, in one embodiment a protective garment is provided having a body with a closed front, an open back, and sleeve openings defined by the front and back portions. Sleeves are attached at a first end to the sleeve openings and terminate in cuffs at a second end. Each sleeve has a front surface and a back surface corresponding generally to an anterior and posterior portion of a wearer's arm. Each sleeve is generally manufactured from a non-elastomeric material. A patch of elastomeric material is formed into each of the sleeves at the back surface. Each of these patches, respectively is attached to the non-elastomeric material comprising each respective sleeve to form a protective garment with stretchable sleeves.

The extensible material patches are not limited to any particular shape. In one particular embodiment, the patches are circular, in another they are square, in a third trapezoidal, in a fourth, they extend a distance along the sleeve and generally follow the contour of the sleeves. In another embodiment, the extensible material patches may generally be elongated members having a longitudinal dimension greater than a lateral dimension.

It should be appreciated that a garment, in particular a surgical gown, constructed in accordance with the invention is not limited to any particular type of materials. Conventional materials for forming the body and sleeves of a gown are well known to those skilled in the art, and any such material may be used for a gown in accordance with the present invention. Likewise, there are a number of elastomeric extensible materials used in the art that may serve adequately as the extensible material patches for use in the present invention. Examples of such materials will be described in greater detail below.

The garment according to the invention may have a conventional body configuration. For example, the garment may have a closed front portion that is made from a first panel of material and an open back portion defined by back panels that are attached to the first panel of material alongside the seams of the garment. In an alternate embodiment, the garment may have front and back portions formed from a single piece of material. The style and configuration of the garments is not a limiting factor. Regardless of the type of garment, extensible material patches may be incorporated into the gown at areas subjected to tensile stretching forces.

The invention will be described in greater detail below by reference to embodiments illustrated in the figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure of the present invention, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth more particularly in the remainder of the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a prior art surgical gown.

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a garment in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a garment in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a garment in accordance with the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference will now be made in detail to one or more embodiments of the invention, examples of which are graphically illustrated in the drawings. Each example and embodiment are provided by way of explanation of the invention, and not meant as a limitation of the invention. For example, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment may be utilized with another embodiment to yield still a further embodiment. It is intended that the present invention include these and other modifications and variations.

“Attached” refers to the bonding, joining, adhering, connecting, attaching, or the like, of two elements. Two elements may be considered attached together when they are bonded directly to one another or indirectly to one another, such as when each is directly attached to an intermediate element.

“Elastomeric” refers to a material or composite which can be extended or elongated by at least 25% of its relaxed length and which will recover, upon release of the applied force, at least 10% of its elongation. It is generally preferred that the elastomeric material or composite be capable of being elongated by at least 100%, recover at least 50% of its elongation. An elastomeric material is thus stretchable and the terms “stretchable”, “elastomeric”, and “extensible” may be used interchangeably.

“Elastic” or “Elasticized” means that property of a material or composite by virtue of which it tends to recover towards its original size and shape after removal of a force causing a deformation.

“Neck-bonded” laminate refers to a composite material having an elastic member that is bonded to a non-elastic member while the non-elastomeric member is extended in the machine direction creating a necked material that is elastic in the transverse or cross-direction. Examples of neck-bonded laminates are disclosed in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,965,122; 4,981,747; 5,226,992; and 5,336,545, which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

“Stretch-bonded” laminate refers to a composite material having at least two layers in which one layer is a gatherable layer and the other layer is an elastic layer. The layers are joined together when the elastic layer is in an extended condition so that upon relaxing the layers, the gatherable layer is gathered. For example, one elastic member can be bonded to another member while the elastic member is extended at least about 25% of its relaxed length. Such a multilayer composite elastic material may be stretched until the non-elastic layer is fully extended. Examples of stretch-bonded laminates are disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,720,415, 4,789,699, 4781,966, 4,657,802, and 4,655,760, which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety for all purposes.

As used herein, the term “nonwoven web” refers to a web that has a structure of individual fibers or filaments which are interlaid, but not in an identifiable repeating manner. Nonwoven webs have been, in the past, formed by a variety of processes known to those skilled in the art such as, for example, meltblowing and melt spinning processes, spunbonding processes and bonded carded web processes.

As used herein, the term “spunbonded web” refers to web of small diameter fibers and/or filaments which are formed by extruding a molten thermoplastic material as filaments from a plurality of fine, usually circular, capillaries in a spinnerette with the diameter of the extruded filaments then being rapidly reduced, for example, by non-eductive or eductive fluid-drawing or other well known spunbonding mechanisms. The production of spunbonded nonwoven webs is illustrated in patents such as Appel, et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,340,563; Dorschner et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,692,618; Kinney, U.S. Pat. Nos. 3,338,992 and 3,341,394; Levy, U.S. Pat. No. 3,276,944; Peterson, U.S. Pat. No. 3,502,538; Hartman, U.S. Pat. No. 3,502,763; Dobo et al., U.S. Pat. No. 3,542,615; and Harmon, Canadian Patent No. 803,714.

As used herein, the term “meltblown web” refers to a nonwoven web formed by extruding a molten thermoplastic material through a plurality of fine, usually circular, die capillaries as molten fibers into converging high velocity gas (e.g. air) streams that attenuate the fibers of molten thermoplastic material to reduce their diameter, which may be to microfiber diameter. Thereafter, the meltblown fibers are carried by the high velocity gas stream and are deposited on a collecting surface to form a web of randomly disbursed meltblown fibers. Such a process is disclosed, for example, in U.S. Pat. No. 3,849,241 to Butin, et al., which is incorporated herein in its entirety by reference thereto for all purposes. Generally speaking, meltblown fibers may be microfibers that may be continuous or discontinuous, are generally smaller than 10 microns in diameter, and are generally tacky when deposited onto a collecting surface.

As used herein, the term “disposable” is not limited to single use or limited use articles but also refers to articles that are so inexpensive to the consumer that they can be discarded if they become soiled or otherwise unusable after only one or a few uses.

As used herein, the term “garment” refers to protective garments and/or shields including for example, but not limited to, surgical gowns, patient drapes, work suits, aprons and the like.

As used herein, the term “liquid resistant” or “liquid repellant” refers to material having a hydrostatic head of at least about 25 centimeters as determined in accordance with the standard hydrostatic pressure test AATCCTM No. 127-1977 with the following exceptions: (1) The samples are larger than usual and are mounted in a stretching frame that clamps onto the cross-machine direction ends of the sample, such that the samples may be tested under a variety of stretch conditions (e.g., 10%, 20%, 30%, 40% stretch); and (2) The samples are supported underneath by a wire mesh to prevent the sample from sagging under the weight of the column of water.

As used herein, the term “breathable” means pervious to water vapor and gases. For instance, “breathable barriers” and “breathable films” allow water vapor to pass therethrough, but are liquid resistant. The “breathability” of a material is measured in terms of water vapor transmission rate (WVTR), with higher values representing a more breathable material and lower values representing a less breathable material. Breathable materials generally have a WVTR of greater than about 250 grams per square meter per 24 hours (g/m2/24 hours). In some embodiments, the WVTR may be greater than about 1000 g/m2/24 hours. Further, in some embodiments, the WVTR may be greater than about 3000 g/m2/24 hours. In some embodiments, the WVTR may be greater than about 5000 g/m2/24 hours.

As used herein, the term “reversibly-necked material” refers to a necked material that has been treated while necked to impart memory to the material so that when force is applied to extend the material to its pre-necked dimensions, the necked and treated portions will generally recover to their necked dimensions upon termination of the force. A reversibly-necked material may include more than one layer. For example, multiple layers of spunbonded web, multiple layers of meltblown web, multiple layers of bonded carded web or any other suitable combination of mixtures thereof. The production of reversibly-necked materials is illustrated in patents such as, for example, Mormon, U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,965,122 and 4,981,747.

The present invention relates to a unique configuration for a protective garment. The garment is illustrated and described herein as a surgical gown for illustrative purposes. It should be appreciated though that a garment in accordance with the invention is not limited to a gown, and may include, for example, a patient gown or drape, work coverall, robe, etc. A prior art conventional gown 100 is conceptually illustrated in FIG. 1. The gown includes a gown body 12 having a front portion 14 and a back portion 16. The gown body may be formed from a single piece of material, or may be defined by separate panels of material joined at seams. Sleeves 22 are generally attached to the gown body at sleeve openings defined in the body 12. The sleeves 22 may be of the same or a different material as the body 12. Various configurations of gowns 100 are well known to those skilled in the art and all such configurations are within the scope and spirit of the invention.

The gown material is generally a breathable yet liquid resistant barrier material. The breathability of the material increases the comfort of a person wearing such a garment, especially if the garment is worn under high heat index conditions, vigorous physical activity, or long periods of time. Various suitable woven and non-woven barrier materials are known and used in the art for garments such as surgical gowns, and all such materials are within the scope of the present invention. A suitable gown material is, for example, a Spunbond-Meltblown-Spunbond laminate as described in U.S. Pat. No. 5,464,688, incorporated herein by reference for all purposes, with appropriate chemical treatments to enhance liquid repellency and static decay.

Still referring to FIG. 1, it has been determined that the elbow area of the gown is subject to significant restrictive forces attributed to the wearer's motions and activity while the gown is being worn. These restrictive forces are felt by the wearer and are generated by tensile stretching forces exerted on the material. The restrictive force areas are designated generally by the dashed-line areas 32 in FIG. 1. It has been found that the restrictive forces can be greatly alleviated by replacing the non-elastomeric gown material in the elbow area with isolated zones or patches of elastomeric material. By replacing those portions at the elbow, and in some embodiments, those portions generally between the elbow and the wrist, the amount of elastomeric material used in the gown is minimized and a more comfortable gown can be made with little additional cost. Embodiments of garments, e.g., gowns, according to the invention are described in greater detail below with reference to FIGS. 2-4.

FIG. 2 illustrates a gown 10 in accordance with the invention. The gown 10 is similar in many aspects to the conventional gown illustrated in FIG. 1. The gown 10 includes a gown body 12 having a front 14 and a back 16. The back 16 may be an open back defined by adjacent back portions 18 having opposite longitudinal edges 20. The back portions 18 include back shoulder regions, back waist regions, lower regions, etc. Any type of known fastening means, such as conventional ties, may be used for securing the gown 10 on a wearer. The gown body 12 may be formed from a single piece of material, such as a breathable yet liquid resistant barrier material, defining a neck opening 26 and sleeve openings 24. Sleeves 22 are attached to the gown body 12 at the sleeve openings 24 by any conventional attaching means and terminate in sleeve cuffs 25. In an alternate embodiment, the gown body 12 may be formed from separate panels of the same or different materials that are attached or adhered along seams. For example, the back portions 18 may be panels of material adhered to a front panel of material defining the front portion 14 along sides seams 19 as depicted in FIG. 3.

Looking again to FIG. 2, patches of elastomeric material 34 are formed into areas 32 of the gown sleeves 22 corresponding to the wearer's elbow region. The specific location of such areas is not limiting and may originate slightly above the elbow and extend to the gown cuff 25 depending upon the overall style, configuration, and size of the gown 10. Moreover, the geometric shape of the elastomeric patches 34 may vary. In some embodiments, the patches may be placed directly over the wearer's elbow, in other embodiments, the patches 34 may extend circumferentially around the elbow area, in still other embodiments, the elastomeric patch 34 may extend generally from the elbow area to the cuff 23.

For example, in FIG. 2, the patches 34 wrap circumferentially around the sleeves 22 in proximity to the elbow in the form of a band. As can be seen in FIG. 3, the patches 34 are placed at the elbow portions themselves and are otherwise generally completely surrounded by the gown body material, which may be non-elastomeric or less elastomeric than the patches 34. In this regard, the patches may be thought of as “islands” of elastomeric material corresponding to the location of the restrictive force areas 32.

Though FIG. 3 depicts the patches 34 as generally circular, it has been found that the patches 34 may have various shapes according to the invention. The patches 34 may have an overall elongated trapezoidal profile with a straight edge that has a length generally paralleling the length of the sleeve 22. Alternatively, the patch may be square, rectangular, of any other suitable shape. Both the upper and lower portions of the patches 34 may extend beyond areas of the elbow actually subjected to tensile stressing forces and, thus, turning to FIG. 4 it may be seen that the patch 34 may comprise a longitudinal dimension 38 that is significantly greater in length than the lateral dimension 36.

In some embodiments, the lateral dimension 36 may be between about 2 and about 5 inches and the longitudinal dimension 38 may range from about 4 to about 10 inches. Of course, the lateral dimension 36 may constitute the larger dimension in some embodiments. As such, the patch 34 may in fact extend longitudinally along the sleeve portions 22 between sleeve openings or seams 24 and the cuffs 25. As shown in FIG. 4, the patch 34 may extend from a point above the elbow and terminate on the sleeve where the cuff 25 is attached to the sleeve 22. Alternatively, the patch may extend onto and be a part of the cuff itself. This would provide the added advantage of providing or contributing to the elastomeric property of the cuff. In some embodiments, the patch may comprise between about one quarter to about three quarter's the entire sleeve length.

In all cases, the elastomeric patches 34 should be stretchable in the general directions of the tensile forces exerted on the areas 32. For example, for a surgical gown, the patches 34 are stretchable at least along the length of the sleeve 22. The arrow lines in FIG. 4 conceptually illustrates the general stretch direction of the patches 34 which would be similar for each of the gowns illustrated in FIGS. 2, and 3 respectively. In an embodiment wherein the patches 34 extend onto the gown cuff, it may be desirable to provide patches 34 with properties enabling it to be stretchable in generally all directions to maximize benefit of the patches.

The patches 34 are formed into the gown material by any suitable method. For example, the patches may be sonically or ultrasonically welded to the gown material. The patches 34 may be stitched, taped, or adhered to the gown material. The patches 34 may be thermally bonded to the gown material. Any one of a number of known conventional attaching methods may be used for this purpose.

Various elastomeric materials are known in the art that may be used for the patches 34. The patches 34 may, for example, be composed of a single layer, multiple layers, laminates, spunbond fabrics, films, meltblown fabrics, elastic netting, microporous web, bonded carded webs or foams comprised of elastomeric or polymeric materials. Elastomeric nonwoven laminate webs may include a nonwoven material joined to one or more gatherable nonwoven webs, films, or foams. Stretch-bonded laminates (SBL) and Neck-bonded laminates (NBL) are examples of elastomeric nonwoven laminate webs. Nonwoven fabrics are any web of material which has been formed without the use of textile weaving processes which produce a structure of individual fibers which are interwoven in an identifiable repeating manner. Examples of suitable materials are Spunbond-Meltblown fabrics, Spunbond-Meltblown-Spunbond fabrics, Spunbond fabrics, or laminates of such fabrics with films, foams, or other nonwoven webs. Elastomeric materials may include cast or blown films, foams, or meltblown fabrics composed of polyethylene, polypropylene, or polyolefin copolymers, as well as combinations thereof. The elastomeric materials may include polyether block amides such as PEBAX® elastomer (available from AtoChem located in Philadelphia, Pa.), thermoplastic polyurethanes (e.g., both aliphatic-polyether and aliphatic-polyester types), HYTREL® elastomeric copolyester (available from E. I. DuPont de Nemours located in Wilmington, Del.), KRATON® elastomer (available from Shell Chemical Company located in Houston, Tex.), or strands of LYCRA® elastomer (available from E. I. DuPont de Nemours located in Wilmington, Del.), or the like, as well as combinations thereof. The patches 34 may include materials that have elastomeric properties through a mechanical process, printing process, heating process, or chemical treatment. For examples such materials may be apertured, creped, neck-stretched, heat activated, embossed, and micro-strained; and may be in the form of films, webs, and laminates.

In one particular embodiment, the elastomeric patches 34 are a neck-bonded laminate of a necked non-woven web of spunbond polypropylene laminated to an elastic film, for example a 6.8 gsm PEBAX film with 16% (by weight) of pigment grade titanium dioxide particles.

It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that the system and method according to the invention have wide applications, and that the example and embodiments set forth herein are merely exemplary. It is intended that the present invention include such uses and embodiments as come within the scope and spirit of the appended claims.

Classifications
U.S. Classification2/456
International ClassificationA41D13/12, A41D27/10
Cooperative ClassificationA41D27/10, A41D13/1209
European ClassificationA41D27/10, A41D13/12B
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Nov 6, 2003ASAssignment
Owner name: KIMBERLY-CLARK WORLDWIDE, INC., WISCONSIN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:AROCH, MAYA;FITTING, STEVEN W.;DAY, BRYON P.;REEL/FRAME:014679/0456
Effective date: 20031105