US 20060117452 A1
A protective garment having plastically bendable shaping members affixed to the base fabric of the garment to facilitate shortening or lengthening of the garment by selective manipulation or bending of the shaping member or members. Such a garment is adjustable by the wearer and allows a single size garment to accommodate various wearer shapes and sizes.
1. An expandable garment comprising:
a garment body having two sleeves attached thereto, the garment body and sleeves formed of a nonwoven fabric having a first fabric surface and a second fabric surface opposite the first fabric surface,
a plastically bendable shaping member affixed to the second fabric surface for selectively lengthening and shortening a portion of the garment.
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9. A surgical gown comprising:
a garment body;
two sleeves, each having length defined between a shoulder end and a hand end, each attached to the garment body at the shoulder end, and each comprising a shaping member affixed to an inner surface of the sleeve so that bending the insert decreases sleeve length and unbending the insert increases sleeve length.
soft malleable metallic wire
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The present invention relates generally to user adjustable or expandable protective apparel or garments. Such garments would be capable of providing some protection for an individual in a hazardous environment while permitting easy size adjustability. Protective apparel or garments, such as coveralls and gowns, designed to provide barrier protection to a wearer are well known in the art. Such protective garments are used in situations where isolation of a wearer from a particular environment is desirable, or it is desirable to inhibit or retard the passage of hazardous liquids and biological contaminates through the garment to the wearer.
For example, in the medical and health-care industry, particularly with surgical procedures, a primary concern is isolation of the medical practitioner from patient fluids such as blood, saliva, perspiration, etc. Protective garments rely on the barrier properties of the fabrics used in the garments, and on the construction and design of the garment. Openings or seams in the garments may be unsatisfactory, especially if the seams or openings are located in positions where they may be subjected to stress and/or direct contact with the hazardous substances.
Originally, surgical gowns were made of linen, the gowns being sterilized prior to use in the operating room. Linen gowns were not capable of preventing “strikethrough” of various liquids encountered during surgical procedures. As a result, the wearer's clothes came into contact with blood and the like, and a path was established for the transmission of bacteria to and from the wearer of the gown. Additionally, linen gowns, due to their high cost, had to be used a number of times, thus necessitating laundering and sterilization between successive uses.
In an attempt to reduce strike-through of liquids and to eliminate the need for repeated laundering and sterilization, disposable gowns were made from fluid repellent nonwoven fabrics. These gowns reduced liquid strike-through for a limited time. However, due to the generally inextensible nature of these nonwoven fabric constructions typically they tend to have less ability to conform to the body than the previously used linens or knits. In order to accommodate for a range of body shapes and sizes, the gown is designed to be loose fitting especially in the chest region, sleeve length, and gown length. Making the gown loose fitting generally minimizes the possibility that the gown may otherwise be undesirably too tight in some area or areas. However, this creates the very obvious problem that the gown will be too big for some wearers. By making the gown oversize a wearer having body dimensions smaller than the maximum size contemplated by the gown is subject to areas or regions of the gown or sleeve that hang or are caused to hang loosely. This phenomenon is known as “blousing”. Unfortunately blousing often occurs in or at regions which may be undesirable for the intended use of the gown. Such areas often include the chest region, sleeve area, and the overall length of the gown itself.
Moreover, many health care facilities purchase only the extra large size version of surgical gowns in order to minimize the volume of different inventory they must maintain on site. In order to fit these gowns to an individual who may be smaller than that intended by the gown size, the typical wearer resorts to taping sections of the gown together to minimize blousing, for example, in the sleeve area or chest region as well as cutting portions of the gown away so as to shorten the overall length of the gown or shorten the sleeve length.
Thus, a need exists for an improvement in materials which may provide some degree of adjustability to an end user that may be incorporated into user worn protective apparel or garments. Such a material would be capable of being easily incorporated into the protective garment and would also be economically cost effective to implement and practice.
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 of a protective garment, particularly a surgical gown, wherein regions of the garment are selectively extensible to provide for adjustability to accommodate various size wearers. These areas or regions may be incorporated into the garment by the addition of a dedicated material having characteristics described herein or alternatively may be formed from the substrate material of the garment itself. In any event, these regions containing extensible materials or properties are typically surrounded by the remaining material of which the garment is made, generally a nonextensible material and, thus, the regions of extensibility may be thought of as regions having extensible properties strategically located throughout the garment.
It should be appreciated that, although the present invention has particular usefulness as a surgical gown, the invention is not limited in scope to surgical gowns or to the medical industry. A garment constructed according to the present invention has wide application and can be used in any instance wherein a user adjustable garment is desirable in such applications as protective coveralls, gowns, robes, etc. As such, all such uses and garments are contemplated within the scope of the invention.
The garment, in form according to the invention may be a surgical gown having a conventional body configuration. That is, the garment may have a closed front portion 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. As discussed in greater depth, the style and configuration of the garments of the present invention are not intended to be considered a limiting factor.
In an embodiment of the invention, a protective garment is provided having a garment body. The garment may be, for example, a surgical gown, a protective coverall, etc. Moreover, in one particular embodiment an expandable garment is provided. The expandable garment may be a garment body having two sleeves attached. The garment body and sleeves may be formed of a nonwoven fabric having a first fabric surface and a second fabric surface which is opposite the first fabric surface. A plastically bendable shaping member may be affixed to one of the fabric surfaces, for example, the second fabric surface. This plastically bendable shaping member would be deformable and such deformation would selectively lengthen and/or shorten the garment. The plastically bendable shaping member may be a soft wire insert, a sheet of malleable material, a polymeric structure, etc. In one possible embodiment, the shaping member may be a wire placed adjacent to and attached to a fabric surface coiling from a first position to a second position. One such example being a coil of wire attached to an inner surface of the garment sleeve and spiraling from a shoulder end to a hand end of the sleeve.
The shaping member may be encased within a sleeve, casing, pocket, or some other form of covering to minimize the potential of direct contact by the garment wearer. For example, the casing may be a second nonwoven material, the same as or different than the material of which the garment is made. Another possibility is that the casing may be as simple as an adhesive tape, adhering the shaping member to the fabric surface. In some embodiments, the shaping member itself may be adhesive and would thus adhere directly to the fabric surface.
In a further embodiment, it may be desirable to place a plurality of such shaping members upon sections of the garment. Each shaping member may be adapted to be independently lengthened to accommodate different size individuals. For example, the shaping members may be adapted to affect overall garment length, affect overall sleeve length, and to affect garment width. Such a garment may prove useful as medical apparel, surgical gowns, shirts, and/or coveralls.
Embodiments of the protective garment according to the invention are described below in greater detail with reference to the appended figures.
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.
Plastically bendable shaping members 20 are disposed adjacent to, or in some embodiments attached or otherwise affixed to various portions of the second surface 18. Selective manipulation or deformation of each member 20 would enable the wearer to lengthen or shorten the fabric as desired. For example, a shaping member 20 may be situated on the garment sleeve 14 to facilitate lengthening or shortening of the sleeve. Other areas of the garment may be found suitable for placement of additional shaping members 20. These areas include but are not limited to the garment body 12 to lengthen and shorten overall garment length, the back and/or chest region of the garment to minimize blousing, as well as any open portion to enable gathering of material to minimize the potential for entry of undesirable materials, such as bodily fluids encountered during a surgical procedure.
In some embodiments the shaping member 20 may be a flattened sheet of malleable material such as a metallic foil as depicted on the right sleeve of
Moreover, the actual material from which the shaping member is made is not critical to the invention. However, it desirably has the property that it can be repeatedly bent, plastically deformed, or otherwise manipulated and it will essentially retain its shape or configuration that it was placed in. The phrase “essentially retain its shape” is meant to allow some slight reformation, creep, or spring-back to the member.
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Other embodiments contemplate adhering the shaping member directly to the second fabric surface 18. In the case of a flattened shaping member, for example, a metallic foil, an adhesive would suffice to adhere the shaping member 20 to the garment 10. Alternatively, in the case of a wire or wire-like shaping member, the casing 22 described supra would be suitable. Another alternative to the casing or to the existence of the second sheet material 24 would be to utilize an adhesive tape 26 to secure the shaping member 20 to the second fabric surface 18.
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The present invention thus far has described a garment 10 that may be found useful as a protective garment, particularly a surgical gown, wherein regions of the gown contain shaping members so as to enable adjustability to accommodate various size wearers. As stated supra, these areas or regions may be incorporated into the garment by the addition of shaping members adhered to the fabric or alternatively may be encased within a second layer of substrate material comprising a layer that may be of a similar configuration as the base fabric of the gown itself. Nonetheless, these regions are typically surrounded by the remaining material from which the garment is made. This material may be a nonextensible material such as a nonwoven substrate. It should, however, be appreciated that any garment made in accordance with this invention, including a surgical gown is not limited to any particular type of material.
Conventional materials for forming gowns 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. As such, the garment may be made from a multitude of materials, including nonwoven materials suitable for disposable use. A material particularly well suited for use with the present invention is a three-layer nonwoven polypropylene material known as SMS. “SMS” is an acronym for Spunbond, Meltblown, Spunbond, the process by which the three layers are constructed and then laminated together. See for example U.S. Pat. No. 4,041,203 to Brock et al. One particular advantage is that the SMS material exhibits enhanced fluid barrier characteristics, making it desirable for use in a surgical setting. It should be noted, however, that other nonwovens as well as other materials including wovens, knits, films, foam/film laminates, and combinations thereof may be used in the construction of the present invention. As such, it should be appreciated that the type of fabric or material used for the garment is not a limiting factor of the invention.
Additionally, it should be appreciated that, although the present invention has particular usefulness as a surgical gown, the invention is not limited in scope to surgical gowns or to the medical industry. The garment according to the present invention has wide application and can be used in any instance where a user adjustable garment is desirable including such applications as protective coveralls, gowns, robes, etc. Consequently, all such uses and garments are contemplated within the scope of the invention. The value of such a garment may be easily understood by drawing a comparison to the present state of the art with respect to the solution presented herein. Presently a wearer of a disposable garment is provided with a single predetermined size. Custom fitting of such garments is inherently impractical, therefore portions of the garment are often left long or loose to accommodate a larger percentage of wearer body shapes and sizes. Use of the garment described herein containing appropriately located shaping members in certain areas, for example, in the garment arm sleeves, the garment leggings, at the chest and torso region, as well as those regions directed to total garment length provides a wearer with adjustability. The garment may initially appear to be foreshortened, however, by pulling or tugging on the garment at the appropriate region, i.e., providing the necessary tensile force, that region of material is extended by the partial or full deformation of the shaping member contained in the region. This results in a lengthening of the garment at the specific region needed for proper fit for the wearer.
It should be appreciated by those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made to the embodiments of the present invention described and illustrated herein without departing from the scope and spirit of the invention. The invention includes such modifications and variations coming within the meaning and range of equivalency of the appended claims.