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Publication numberUS20060082210 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/252,536
Publication dateApr 20, 2006
Filing dateOct 18, 2005
Priority dateOct 18, 2004
Also published asDE102005049903A1
Publication number11252536, 252536, US 2006/0082210 A1, US 2006/082210 A1, US 20060082210 A1, US 20060082210A1, US 2006082210 A1, US 2006082210A1, US-A1-20060082210, US-A1-2006082210, US2006/0082210A1, US2006/082210A1, US20060082210 A1, US20060082210A1, US2006082210 A1, US2006082210A1
InventorsRichard Fletcher, Richard Rimmington
Original AssigneeFletcher Richard E, Richard Rimmington
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Method and means for assisting a person to, into and out of a seat in a confined space
US 20060082210 A1
Abstract
The invention relates to apparatus for assisting a person to transfer into or out of a seat in a row of seats. The apparatus comprises at least two inflatable structures for positioning on respective seats in the row and a substantially rigid transfer means arranged to be supported between the inflatable structures.
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Claims(21)
1. Apparatus for assisting a person to transfer into or out of a seat in a row of seats, said apparatus comprising at least two inflatable structures for positioning on respective seats in the row and a substantially rigid transfer means arranged to be supported between the inflatable structures.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least two inflatable structures are connectable to a single air supply.
3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein at least one of said inflatable structures is fitted with a non return valve.
4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said apparatus comprises means for connecting said at least two inflatable structures to a single air supply line.
5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said transfer means comprises at least one board.
6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said transfer means comprises a buffer means.
7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6 wherein said buffer means comprises a roll of material.
8. Apparatus according to claim 1 wherein said apparatus further comprises at least one rigid board support structure for assisting support of at least one board when the board is arranged between the at least two inflatable structures.
9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 8 wherein at least one rigid board support structure is collapsible.
10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the apparatus further comprises a support means to assist movement of a person relative to the apparatus.
11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10 wherein the support means comprises at least one platform.
12. Apparatus according to claim 10 wherein the support means comprises telescopic legs.
13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 further comprises portable air supply.
14. A method of assisting a person to transfer into or out of a target seat in a row of seats, comprising the steps of placing an inflatable structure on the target seat, placing at least one other inflatable structure on a second seat, inflating said structures, and arranging a substantially rigid transfer means between the inflatable structures to provide a transfer surface between the second seat and the target seat.
15. The method according to claim 14 wherein said method comprises the step of lowering a person into the target seat by deflation of said inflatable structure.
16. The method according to claim 14 wherein said method comprises the step of lowering a rigid board support structure on a third seat located between the target seat and the second seat.
17. The method according to claim 16 wherein said method comprises the step of placing the rigid board support structure on each of one or more seats located between the target seat and the second seat.
18. The method according to claim 14 wherein said method comprises the step of extending at least one board between two adjacent inflatable structures only.
19. The method according to claim 14 wherein the method further comprises the step of providing a support means to assist movement of a person relative to the apparatus.
20. (canceled)
21. (canceled)
Description
  • [0001]
    This invention relates to a method and means for assisting persons, particularly persons with restricted physical movement to transfer to, into and out of a seat located in a row of adjacent seats in a confined space.
  • [0002]
    The invention has been devised primarily to overcome or reduce difficulties experienced by disabled passengers on an aircraft in transferring into and out of a seat not easily accessible from the main aisle, such as a window seat located within a row of seats. Under some widely applied civil aviation rules, a physically impaired person should be seated in such a location so as not to impede the rapid exit of other passengers in the event of an emergency.
  • [0003]
    However, the rows of seats in an aircraft are so closely arranged that the row of seats in front of a given row greatly restricts the space available (leg room) in which a seat in the given row can be accessed. This makes the access to a central or window seat within a row difficult. In aircraft, there is often a restriction on the space above the seats which also hinders access to and from a seat. However, the invention is not limited to use with aircraft seats and the invention is broadly applicable to the movement of persons into and out of seats closely arranged in rows having a confined space, for example those seating arrangements found in theatres, cinemas, stadiums and on ferries.
  • [0004]
    Often seats arranged in rows are separated by fixed or foldable armrests, a further factor which hinders movement to and from a seat. Additionally, such seats tend to be fairly low to the ground having relatively high armrests which makes sitting into and leaving a seat difficult for disabled and elderly persons.
  • [0005]
    There is no known device or method to effectively assist a disabled or elderly person into and from a seat positioned in a row in a confined space. Usually, such a person is reliant upon another person or persons for providing guidance and support in moving to, into or out of the seat. Given the seating arrangement such assistance is difficult to provide and usually ineffective.
  • [0006]
    Hoists are impractical and not possible on aircraft because of the overhead, aisle and leg space restrictions.
  • [0007]
    A particular aim of the invention is to provide a means for assisting persons, to, into and out of a seat in a row of seats in a confined space.
  • [0008]
    A further aim of the invention is that said means is compactable and lightweight.
  • [0009]
    Yet a further particular aim of the invention is to provide a method for assisting persons to, into and out of a seat arranged in a row of seats in a confined space.
  • [0010]
    According to the invention there is provided apparatus for assisting a person to transfer into or out of a seat in a row of seats, said apparatus comprising at least two inflatable structures for positioning on respective seats in the row and a substantially rigid transfer means arranged to be supported between the inflatable structures.
  • [0011]
    Preferably, the at least two inflatable structures are connectible to a single air supply.
  • [0012]
    Preferably, the at least two inflatable structures are fitted with non return valves.
  • [0013]
    Preferably, the at least two inflatable structures are connectible to a single airline connectible to the air supply.
  • [0014]
    Preferably the air supply is a portable air supply.
  • [0015]
    Preferably, said transfer means comprises at least one board.
  • [0016]
    Preferably, said transfer means comprises a transfer surface having a low co-efficient of friction.
  • [0017]
    More preferably, said transfer means comprises a buffer means.
  • [0018]
    Preferably, said buffer means comprises a roll of material, a portion of which has a low co-efficient of friction.
  • [0019]
    Preferably the apparatus further comprises at least one rigid structure for assisting support of the at least one board when arranged between the two inflatable structures.
  • [0020]
    Preferably, the at least one rigid structure is collapsible. More preferably, said at least one rigid structure comprises a collapsible box or crate.
  • [0021]
    Preferably the apparatus further comprises a support means to assist transferring to, along and away from the apparatus.
  • [0022]
    Preferably, the support means comprises at least one platform.
  • [0023]
    More preferably, the support means comprises telescopic legs.
  • [0024]
    According to a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a method of assisting a person to transfer into or out of a target seat in a row of seats, said method comprising placing an inflatable structure on the target seat and placing at least one other inflatable structure on a second seat, inflating the structures and arranging a substantially rigid transfer means between the inflatable structures to provide a transfer surface between the second seat and the target seat.
  • [0025]
    Preferably the inflatable structures are inflated to substantially the same height above armrest level.
  • [0026]
    Preferably, a person is lowered into the target seat by deflation of the inflatable structure.
  • [0027]
    Preferably, a person is raised to substantially the same height as the transfer means by inflation of the inflatable structure in the target seat.
  • [0028]
    Preferably a third inflatable structure is placed on a third seat located between the target seat and the second seat. More preferably, a rigid structure is placed on a third seat located between the target seat and the second seat.
  • [0029]
    Preferably still, an inflatable structure is placed on each of a number of seats located between the target seat and the second seat. Even more preferably, a rigid structure is placed on each of a. number of seats located between the target seat and the second seat.
  • [0030]
    Preferably the transfer means comprises at least one board. More preferably, the at least one board is placed in abutment with two adjacent structures only. Preferably, the method comprises providing a support means, such as a platform to assist transferring to and/or along, and/or away from the apparatus.
  • [0031]
    According to yet a further aspect of the invention, there is provided a kit of apparatus which can be assembled and dismantled for assisting a person from an end of a row of seats to, into and out of a seat located in the row, said kit comprising at least two inflatable structures, an air supply and at least one transfer board.
  • [0032]
    Preferably, the kit comprises a support means.
  • [0033]
    Preferably, said support means comprises at least one box, into which the apparatus maybe stored.
  • [0034]
    Preferably, the at least one board comprises buffer means.
  • [0035]
    Preferably, the kit comprises a single air line to which all structures are connectible.
  • [0036]
    The invention shall now be described with reference to the following drawings in which:
  • [0037]
    FIGS. 1 to 5 are perspective views of a row of seats showing the various stages of the use and arrangement of apparatus according to all aspects of the invention, and
  • [0038]
    FIGS. 6 and 7 are plan views of the use and arrangement of apparatus according to all aspects of the invention.
  • [0039]
    FIGS. 8, 9 and 10 show a rigid structure which may be used in a further arrangement of the apparatus according to the invention.
  • [0040]
    The same numerals have been used in all figures to denote the same features.
  • [0041]
    FIGS. 1 to 5 show a single row of seats 10 positioned between an aisle D from where the seats are accessed and an obstacle, such as a wall or window O.
  • [0042]
    It must be understood that in real situations, there would be a row directly in front and behind the single row.
  • [0043]
    Three seats A, B and C are arranged in a row 10 as, for example may be found in an aircraft or theatre. Seat A is located beside an aisle D and commonly referred to as an aisle seat. Seat C is located between seat B and an obstacle such as a wall or window. In an aircraft, seat C is commonly referred to as a window seat.
  • [0044]
    As is found in many cinemas, theatres and aircraft seats are arranged in rows one behind another. It is understood that the term a row of seats may be applied to two or more seats positioned side by side in a straight or curved alignment.
  • [0045]
    The rows in such circumstances are often so closely arranged that the row in front of a given row greatly limits the space available to access a seat in the row behind.
  • [0046]
    An elderly or disabled person who wishes to sit in a confined seat in a row not located on the aisle, for example seat C; will often find it difficult to manoeuvre from the aisle D to the desired seat owing to the confinements of space in front of the row and in the case of a seat in an aircraft, the confinements of the space above the row.
  • [0047]
    To assist such a person to access the desired seat an inflatable structure, such as an inflatable cushion 1 is placed on each of seats A, B and C as shown in FIG. 1.
  • [0048]
    Inflatable cushion 1 is generally made of a plastics material which can hold a pressure of around 0.35 bar. Each cushion is fitted with a safety valve (not shown). The inflatable cushions preferably have the same base dimensions as those of the seat into which they are placed. Each cushion when inflated is of a generally cuboid shape.
  • [0049]
    Each cushion has an aperture 4 fitted with a standard sized venting connector (not shown) for connection to air hoses 5 of a single air line 6. One end of air line 6 is connected to an air supply 9, such as a hand held electrically powered supply and the other end is connected to the cushion 1 on seat C. The venting connectors may be fitted with non return valves so that with this arrangement, the air supply will inflate all the cushions at the same time, although it must be appreciated, that each cushion may be inflated separately by directly connecting an air supply to each cushion 1.
  • [0050]
    Owing to the use and arrangement of non return valves within the arrangement as described, it is possible to disconnect each of the inflatable structures from the airline whilst keeping the cushions inflated. Furthermore, if it is not necessary to connect all the air hoses 5 of the airline 6 to a cushion, such arrangement will still allow the airline to transfer air to and from the connected cushions.
  • [0051]
    The cushions 1 on seats A, Band C are inflated (see FIGS. 2 and 3) to substantially the same height above the level of the armrests 7 of the seats, if the armrests are fixed. For those seats having foldable armrests, the armrests may be folded back to a substantially vertical position. If desired, the air line 6 and air supply 9 can then be detached and moved away from the row of seats.
  • [0052]
    Referring now to FIG. 2 a transfer board 8 is placed in abutment with a portion of cushion 1 on seat A and a portion of cushion 1 on seat B bridging the gap between the cushions. The board 8 is made of a substantially rigid, light weight material, such as wood, or a plastics material and having a low coefficient of friction on at least one side. A loop or roll of flexible material 14 may be placed at one or both ends of the board such that a portion is in abutment with the board and a portion extends over the end of the board. The loop or roll of material may serve as a buffer between the board and the person being transferred. Since the loop or roll of material has a low coefficient of friction on its internal surfaces, these surfaces of the loop or roll may easily slide with respect to each other providing movement in the direction of transferral from or to the board. The external surfaces of the loop or roll have a higher coefficient of friction than the internal surfaces which assists movement of the roll or loop in the direction of transferral. A second board (not shown) may be placed in abutment with cushion 1 on seat B and the cushion 1 on seat C to bridge the gap between these cushions.
  • [0053]
    The order in which the cushions are inflated and the placing of board(s) in abutment with the cushions is not important, but may be determined by the presence or lack of armrests on the seats.
  • [0054]
    As seen in FIG. 3 a platform 11 is positioned on the ground in front of and alongside the row of seats 10. The platform 11 may be one or more boxes as shown, or a support with telescopic legs. The platform 11 provides means for allowing a person (not shown) in the aisle D to transfer onto the transfer board 8 and/or cushion 1 of aisle seat A. By shuffling the feet along platform 11 and if necessary, holding onto the row of seats in front (not shown), a person may slide along the board to the inflatable structure on seat B. The person can then transfer over the gap between seats B and seat C and onto the cushion 1 on seat C. If preferred, the transfer board 8 or a further board may be placed between the cushions on seats B and C to allow the person to further slide along and to the cushion on seat C. Once on the cushion 1 on seat C, the board(s) is/are removed and the cushion 1 is deflated with the person on top being eased into the seat. The air supply 9 maybe used to do this or, alternatively, it can be done manually. The air line 6 is disconnected from the cushion leaving the deflated cushion 1 under the person on the seat. For long haul flights, this may be uncomfortable, especially if the person suffers from decubitus ulcers. It may therefore be necessary to place extra padding between the person and the cushion 1. Such padding is best placed on the cushion 1 before the person sits on it, however, some persons may be able to slide the padding under their buttocks when seated on cushion 1.
  • [0055]
    The remainder of the apparatus: transfer board(s) 8, cushions 1, air supply 9, air hoses 5 and airline 6 may be conveniently dismantled and stored in the box(es) used as a platform 11. Alternatively, the equipment including the platform may be stored in a holdall, or in a trolley case.
  • [0056]
    In order to get the person out of the seat C, the air line 6 is reconnected to the cushion on seat C under the person. Inflatable cushions are placed on seats A and B and connected to the airline 6 which is connected to the air supply 9. The transfer board or boards are placed in abutment with inflatable cushions 1 between seats A and B, if not restricted by armrests 7, and if desired between the cushions on seats B and C. The cushions are inflated above armrest level, if armrests are present. Obviously, the order in which the cushions are inflated, or the board(s) placed on the cushions is not important and may be determined by the presence, or lack of armrests on the seats. If desired the air line 6 may be detached and the platform 11 placed on the ground in front of and alongside the row of seats 10. The person may then slide over the board or boards in a similar manner as before back to the inflatable cushion on seat A. The person can then easily transfer to the aisle D.
  • [0057]
    In an alternative arrangement of the invention, a rigid structure 30 as shown in FIG. 10 may be placed on seat B in place of an inflatable structure I to assist with the support of the board(s) 8 between the cushions 1. The rigid structure is a collapsible box structure made of a durable, lightweight material such as polypropylene and is capable of being collapsed or dismantled into a more compact form. The rigid structure 30 is constructed from two identical sheets of material 34 as shown in FIG. 8. The sheets comprise two side portions 35 and an upper portion 36 having fold lines 39 and 40.
  • [0058]
    Two identical sheets 34 are movably connected to each other along edges 38 of side portions 35 and along edges 37 of the upper portions 36 as shown in FIG. 9. The sheets 34 may be connected, for example by hinge means. To erect the rigid structure 30, the upper portions 36 are positioned into a substantially horizontal plane by folding along fold lines 40. Side portions 36 are folded along the fold lines 39 and positioned under the upper portions 36 to provide a rigid box structure 30 having four side walls and an upper surface. FIG. 10 shows the rigid structure 30 when erected. Using a rigid structure in place of an inflatable structure has the advantage in that it need not be inflated, thus saving time in setting up the apparatus ready for use. When using the rigid structure 30, the inflatable cushions 1 are placed on seats A and C as before and the rigid structure 30 is placed on seat B with the upper portions 36 uppermost. Cushions 1 are inflated to the same or substantially the same height as the rigid structure 30 before the transfer board(s) 8 are arranged in abutment with the cushions 1 and the upper portions 36 of rigid structure 30 to provide a transfer surface between the cushions 1 on seats A and C. The rigid structure may provide a container for storing some, or all of the apparatus: transfer board(s) 8, cushions 1, air supply 9, air hoses 5 and airline 6 when not in use. Alternatively, the rigid structure may be dismantled or collapsed to a compact form for easy storing.
  • [0059]
    It must be appreciated that many elderly and disabled persons are wheelchair users and may arrive on the aircraft or at the theatre in a wheel chair. FIGS. 4 and 5 show how the apparatus and method of the present invention may be used by a wheelchair user. (The wheelchair user is not shown). In this instance, a further inflatable cushion 20 as used on seats A and B may be placed in a deflated state under the person on the wheelchair W. The wheelchair W can then be parked in the aisle D alongside the first seat A at the end of a row of seats 10. As in the manner previously described, inflatable cushions 1 may be placed on all the seats A, Band C. In addition to placing a board between the cushions on seats A and B (see FIG. 5) and possibly on cushions between Band C (not shown), a further board 21 is placed in abutment with a portion of cushion 20 on the wheelchair Wand the cushion 1 on seat A. This provides a transfer surface between the wheelchair Wand seat A. The cushion 20 is connected to the air supply 9 by airline 6 in the same manner as cushions 1 on seats A and B. All the cushions can then be inflated to substantially the same height above the level of the armrests of the seats and wheelchair allowing the person to slide from the wheelchair to seat A and then continuing to seat C in the manner previously described. The person can then be eased into seat C by deflation of the cushion on seat C. When returning from seat C to the wheel chair, the cushion on seat C under the person can be inflated to a height more or less the same as the others on seats A and B and boards placed in abutment with the cushions 1 and between the cushion 1 on seat C and the cushion 20 on wheelchair W to enable the person to slide back on to the wheel chair. Once on the wheel chair, the cushion 20 is deflated allowing the person to ease into the wheel chair. The deflated cushion 20 can be removed from under the person on the wheelchair, or simply left there.
  • [0060]
    In the case of a row of more than three seats, for example a wheelchair Wand three permanent seats as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7, a cushion 1 is placed on the aisle seat A and the target seat C and on a number of seats between. In FIGS. 6 and 7, a row of seats 13 is shown arranged in front of and close to row 10. Although it will be necessary to bridge the gaps between the cushions to create a suitable transfer surface, it is still only necessary to have two transfer boards, since the boards when not in use can be removed and placed further along the row. An example of this is shown in FIGS. 6 and 7 where two boards 21 and 8 are used to bridge the gaps between the cushion 20 on wheelchair Wand cushion 1 on seat A and between cushion 1 on seat A and cushion 1 on seat B, respectively. Once the person has successfully transferred from the wheel chair to seat A, board 21 can be removed and be placed between seat B and seat C (as shown in FIG. 8) to continue the transfer surface to seat C. This process of re placing the boards can be repeated until the desired seat is reached.
  • [0061]
    In accordance with the further arrangement of the invention, rigid structures 30 of the type previously described may be placed on the seats A and B in place of cushions 1. The board(s) 8 are placed in abutment with the rigid structures 30 on seats A and B in the same manner as if they were the inflatable cushions 1 on these seats.
  • [0062]
    Rather than having boards of a length which only stretch from one adjacent cushion or rigid structure to another, it is possible that longer length boards are employed and which stretch over one or more gaps between adjacent cushions. If a longer length board is used, it may not be necessary to have a cushion or rigid structure on every seat between the aisle seat and the desired seat to support the board.
  • [0063]
    It must be understood that the invention is not limited to use on three chairs in a row, nor is it limited to the case where sitting in a seat adjacent to a window or wall is desired,
  • [0064]
    The apparatus and method according to the invention has the advantage in that it is compactable, lightweight and easy to use in a confined space. The apparatus according to the invention when assembled provides an elongated surface upon which a person may lie down.
  • [0065]
    It is understood that the scope of the present invention is not to be limited by the embodiments shown in the drawings. In particular, the apparatus may be made in a wide range of sizes to suit different uses. Moreover, the invention includes any novel and inventive features disclosed herewith either alone or in combination with anyone or more other such features.
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7909404 *Mar 22, 2011Caterpillar Inc.Independent height adjustment system for a seat assembly and machine using same
US20090289487 *May 20, 2008Nov 26, 2009Caterpillar Inc.Independent height adjustment system for a seat assembly and machine using same
US20140167460 *Aug 28, 2013Jun 19, 2014Continental Automotive GmbhControl Element for a Vehicle Seat
Classifications
U.S. Classification297/452.41, 297/219.1, 297/330
International ClassificationA47C7/02, A61G7/10, B60N2/24, B60N2/44
Cooperative ClassificationA47C7/021, A61G2200/34, A61G7/103, B60N2/245, B60N2/4415, A61G2220/10, A61G7/1021
European ClassificationB60N2/24C, B60N2/44H, A47C7/02A, A61G7/10P4
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
May 19, 2006ASAssignment
Owner name: MANGAR INTERNATIONAL LIMITED, UNITED KINGDOM
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:FLETCHER, RICHARD EDMOND;RIMMINGTON, RICHARD;REEL/FRAME:017661/0638
Effective date: 20060130