US 20070197947 A1
A brace for supporting the knee of the wearer. The brace has an adjustable support mechanism for accommodating a variety of leg shapes. The hinge portion of the brace is adjustable so that there is proper balanced support on opposite sides of the knee. Furthermore, the brace is universal in applicability and may be used on either the right or left leg.
24. A unitary adjustable hinged knee support apparatus adapted to accommodate a variety of leg shapes and sizes in association therewith by utilizing adjustable and non-adjustable support sections above and below a user's knee, comprising:
an adjustable open upper-support section adapted to receive an upper leg portion of the user and comprising a first flap and a second flap operable to be opened for receipt of and positioning around the user's upper leg portion and subsequently adjusted to accommodate the specific size of the user's upper leg portion;
a non-adjustable, closed lower-support section adapted to slidably receive a lower leg portion of the user with a fixed size therearound; and
a plurality of adjustable flexible hinges adapted to be oppositely disposed about a patella, the plurality of adjustable flexible hinges comprising an upper, flexible portion operable to position the support apparatus in an anatomically correct manner relative to the knee in association with the adjustment of the first and second flaps of the upper support section.
25. The support apparatus of
26. The support apparatus of
27. The support apparatus of
28. The support apparatus of
29. The support apparatus of
30. The support apparatus of
31. The support apparatus of
32. The support apparatus of
33. The support apparatus of
34. A unitary adjustable hinged knee support apparatus adapted to accommodate a variety of leg shapes and sizes in association therewith by utilizing adjustable and non-adjustable support sections above and below a user's knee, comprising:
an adjustable open upper-support section adapted to receive a thigh region of the user and comprising a first flap and a second flap operable to be opened for receipt of and positioning around the user's thigh region and subsequently adjusted to accommodate the specific size of the user's thigh region;
a non-adjustable, closed lower-support section adapted to slidably receive a calf region of the user with a fixed size therearound;
a plurality of adjustable flexible hinges adapted to be oppositely disposed about a patella; and
the plurality of adjustable flexible hinges comprise an upper, flexible portion operable to position the support apparatus in an anatomically correct manner relative to a knee in association with the adjustment of the first and second flaps of the upper support section and a lower portion permanently secured to the non-adjustable, closed lower-support section of the unitary adjustable hinged knee support apparatus.
35. The support apparatus of
36. The support apparatus of
37. The support apparatus of
38. The support apparatus of
39. The support apparatus of
40. A method of using an adjustable hinged unitary knee support apparatus, comprising:
securing a non-adjustable, closed lower section of the support apparatus to a calf region of a user;
securing an adjustable open upper section of the support apparatus to a thigh region of the user; and
adjusting a position of a plurality of adjustable flexible hinges oppositely disposed about a patella, the plurality of adjustable flexible hinges comprise an upper, flexible portion operable to position the support apparatus in an anatomically correct manner relative to a knee of the user.
41. The method of
42. The method of
43. The method of
This application claims priority from and incorporates the entire disclosure of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/361,901 filed Feb. 28, 2002.
1. Technical Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to orthopedic supports and, more particularly, but not by way of limitation, to an orthopedic support for a knee having a hinge that may be adjustably positioned for anatomically correct support of knees and legs of varying sizes and shapes.
2. History of Related Art
It is common in the Sports Medicine Industry to utilize orthopedic supports for various body parts subject to injury. The most common support areas include the knees, elbows, and ankles. Often injuries to these areas of the body can be treated by the utilization of the appropriate orthopedic support. In the event surgery, rehabilitation is sometimes augmented by the utilization of such supports.
The design of orthopedic supports has changed considerably over the past two decades. The types of material used as well as the fastening and hinging mechanisms associated with orthopedic supports have been the subject of considerable study and improvement. U.S. Pat. No. 4,986,264 to Miller, teaches a knee brace having an interior tibial shell and an interior femoral which are closely configured to the shape of the lower leg and thigh respectively and which are joined by a frame in the form of a pair of polycentric hinge joints. U.S. Pat. No. 4,856,501 to Castill et. al. teaches a knee brace having adjustable width frame pivoted to cuffs. The brace as set forth therein includes first and second frame members disposed on opposite sides of the joint to be supported, and first and second hinge members disposed substantially adjacent to joint and connected to the frame members to pivot the frame members about the joint.
Another example of related art is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 4,494,534 to Hudson. This patent teaches a universal leg brace system for controlling the degree of motion permitted by wearer's knee characterized by respective flexible sheets of cushioned material adapted for snugly wrapping around the wearer's thigh and calf U.S. Pat. No. 5,554,104 to Grim likewise teaches a custom formed knee brace. This brace is taught to support weakened or injured knees by having formed components which conform to the unique configuration of an individual's leg surfaces. Other references include U.S. Pat. No. 6,066,110 to Nauert; U.S. Pat. No. 5,810,752 to Grifka; U.S. Pat. No. 5,624,389 to Zepf; U.S. Pat. No. 4,873,967 to Sutherland; U.S. Pat. No. 5,921,946 to Tillinghas; and U.S. Pat. No. 5,562,605 to Taylor.
As seen from the patents listed above, the aspect of joint support, flexibility, and rehabilitation have received considerable attention in prior orthopedic support design. One area of continued concern is, however, the adaptability of a single support to human body parts of varying size and shape. For example, knee braces require that the area of the thigh above the knee as well as the area of the leg beneath the knee be securely fitted within the brace. Some legs are shaped differently than others. Some individuals have larger thighs than other individuals and thus various modifications must be made to the particular brace to accommodate large and/or smaller leg portions. This is particularly true when an upper leg portion in the area of the thigh is considerably larger than the portion below the knee. When hinge structures are utilized in conjunction with orthopedic supports for such knees, the appropriate alignment of the oppositely disposed hinges becomes critical. If the hinges are not diametrically opposed one to the other, the appropriate hinge action cannot smoothly occur. In fact, various stresses can be imparted to the orthopedic support as well as the knee when misalignment is present. Such a problem is contrary to the purpose of the orthopedic support and will not maximize efficiency and healing. The alignment of the hinges should, therefore, be a primary consideration in orthopedic support design construction and fitting. The present invention addresses such design manufacturer and fitting issues by providing an orthopedic support with adjustable hinge sections to permit appropriate diametrically opposed hinge alignment therewith to accommodate a variety of a body shapes and sizes.
The present invention relates generally to orthopedic supports having hinge elements associated therewith. More particularly, one aspect of the invention includes an orthopedic support facilitating better fit for legs of varying shape, including the cone-shaped leg and the positioning of the support around the thigh. In one aspect of the present invention, hinges disposed for positioning above the patella have unique hook and pile adjustments to fit larger or smaller thighs (from child sizes to adult sizes) and allow proper balanced support on opposite sides of the knee. In another aspect a posterior elastic segment on velcro straps prevent any tourniquet effect. Moreover, the present invention may, in one embodiment, provide a universal right or left leg applicability with removable, adjustable half-horseshoe buttress.
Another aspect of the present invention relates to a hinged knee support utilizing adjustable hinges. The knee support is particularly adapted for individuals having larger thigh regions. Thus, the hinged knee support is adapted to open in the upper region thereof to accommodate various sizes and shapes of thigh portions and to further include means for adjustably positioning the lateral hinges so that they are oppositely disposed about knee to provide the most appropriate support, irrespective of the shape and size and
In another aspect of the present invention, the present invention includes a large popliteal opening for added comfort by the user. A multitude of hinges may be used including both the single axis and a polycentric type of hinge.
In still another aspect of the present invention, a spiral stay may be used so that as the knee is bent by a user, the stay encourages the present invention to return to a neutral position after each movement. In this manner, as the knee is returned to a neutral position such that pressure exerted on the knee neither pushes or pulls the tissues of the knee apart.
In yet another aspect of the present invention, hook and pile inter-engagement is used to facilitate the positioning and securement of the hinges in the most appropriate location relative to the knee.
And yet a further aspect of the present invention, a hinged knee support is provided with a patient friendly configuration having a closed bottom section for covering the calf of the patient and an upper region that may be open and adjusted to the appropriate size for accommodating a variation in the size of the thigh of the user. The hinged knee further incorporates the adjustable hinge feature as described above therein facilitating structural support of patients having a wide variation of certain anatomical regions thereof.
A more complete understanding of embodiments of the present invention can be achieved by reference to the following Detailed Description when taken in conjunction with the accompanying Drawings wherein:
It has been discovered that many commercial braces do not fit certain sizes and shapes in the most appropriate manner. This is particularly true of legs with large thighs and smaller calf regions. These leg shapes are referred to herein as “cone-shaped” legs and illustrated in certain ones of the following drawings. Further, the present invention may be adapted to fit the leg shapes of both children and adults.
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Referring now to
Still referring to
Referring now to
Referring now to
In one embodiment of the present invention, a sheet of material 60 covers the hinge 20. The underside of the sheet 60 has a mating hook and pile surface to engage the hook and pile surface 24, which provides securement of the upper portion 22 of hinge 20 (
In operation, the present invention accommodates various leg sizes. This is clearly shown in
Still referring to
Referring now to
One advantage of the present invention is the adjustable hinges. This is because adjustable hinges 20, as is illustrated in
Another advantage is in the use of a flexible spiral stay, which allows use of the knee support 10 for various injuries where it is beneficial for the knee support apparatus to return to a neutral position for proper healing. Spiral stays are made from hardened, galvanized spring steel round wire which is coiled and flattened, and is generally referred to in the trade as “spiral boning”. Such material provides support rigidity for partially immobilizing the knee, yet can be flexed, when placed under pressure, to conform to the body contours of the wearer, as illustrated in
Yet another advantage is in the ample strap length provided, which allows a wide range of adjustability relative to the sizes of the user's leg. Since adjustability is a key aspect of the present invention, straps with hook and pile material are an advantage.
Finally, the present invention may be adapted to fit both children and adults. The present invention will be supplied in wide variety of sizes to accommodate the needs of various users.
Although an embodiment of the method and apparatus of the present invention has been illustrated in the accompanying Drawings and described in the foregoing Detailed Description, it will be understood that the invention is not limited to the embodiment disclosed, but is capable of numerous rearrangements, modifications and substitutions without departing from the spirit of the invention as set forth and defined herein.