US 20080004555 A1
Disclosed is a medical device that operates as a supporting splint for the limbs and other body parts necessary for the treatment of a variety of medical and surgical conditions. Said device is an inflatable, flexible, lightweight water-resistant splint whose measure of rigidity is easily controlled by the fitter or user. According to the present invention there are several embodiments of the splint, each suited to fit a different body part such as the limbs, torso, chest, pelvis, and neck. Said device, which is constructed of inflatable tubes, is made of two nylon layers welded together and coated with polyurethane. The tubes may be inflated by any means of supplying air pressure. The present invention is especially designed to allow normal blood circulation to the treated body part, provide ventilation to the area, enable easy inspection of an injury, and allow partial movement of the treated part.
1. A splint for immobilizing and supporting a limb or other body parts of a human, wherein said splint is made of flexible material for covering body parts and articulations from at least three sides and where said splint includes:
a. inflatable tubes interconnected by non-inflatable parts for achieving variable degrees of support, stiffness and restriction of movement;
b. ventilation holes for skin ventilation, contained in the non-inflatable parts;
c. at least one gas pressure source device connected to said splint;
d. at least one adjustable strap for connecting splint edges;
wherein the inflated structure of the splint fits the structure and anatomical shape of the appropriate body part for the purpose of stabilizing and providing support to the patient's body part and its articulations in varying degrees of rigidity and in particular positions.
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The present invention relates to the field of medical devices, and, more particularly, it relates to inflatable, versatile/universal/multi purpose splints.
The traditional techniques of providing external support and immobilization in orthopedic conditions revolves around three existing types of devices: casts, which have application primarily in broken limbs; splints, which are used to immobilize and stabilize the limbs and the torso; and pressure bandages, which help control swelling and give a degree of support.
Creative individuals have come up with a variety of departures from these standard themes in order to achieve better patient treatment and recovery. Inflatable pouches made from various materials exist, adapted to be filled with either liquid or gas, and incorporating means for securing these pouches to and tightening them around the injured part of a human body. Splints of this kind effect the immobilization and compression of a limb or other part of a human body.
One of the alternative devices is presented in U.S. Pat. No. 5,954,676. This device utilizes two sets of multi-layer deformable materials, such as fiberglass shims located in pouches in first and second members having re-sealable bladders of sheaths that provide structural support on each side of the limb.
The main drawback of the device, which limits its application considerably, relates to its fixed and inflexible shape that does not take into consideration the three-dimensional form of the limbs, joints and torso, for instance.
A different device is U.S. Pat. No. 5,288,286, which is an adjustable pressure cast for orthopedic injuries. It is composed of three sets of air chambers and is only designed for treating orthopedic leg injuries such as fractures. As in the previous patent, this device suffers from an inconvenient structure, which may only support the calf, the ankle, and the foot of a patient without conforming to the shape of these structures.
U.S. Pat. No. 6,719,711 describes a third type of device, an inflatable splint with a series of modular sections that independently wrap around an injured body part, each section forming a circular structure that surrounds the injured limb. The device requires multiple sections when encircling the joints or various bends of the injured limb, as it is not designed to accommodate the three-dimensional shape of the human body. Furthermore, the circular shape of the fastened splint leaves no openings for inspection of the injured area.
There is a need for a method and a concept for a lightweight and convenient splint which adjusts to the shape of the limb, joint, or other body part, and which may also provide steady support to the trunk (i.e. spine, ribs, neck etc.), while at the same time allowing free blood circulation and ventilation, and enabling medical inspection of the injured area.
Such a device should further allow for as much functionality as possible and allow rigidity and flexibility to be adjusted as needed.
In accordance with the shortcomings of previous art, it is a principal object of the present invention to provide a splint device which will present a maximum adjustment range, so it can be easily and securely fitted to the injured body part, without bringing about any uncomfortable chafing and minimizing overall discomfort, that will also allow for adequate blood circulation to the injured part, and will support the joints, limbs and any other body parts in an optimal position with a controllable measure of rigidity.
The present invention is aimed, in particular, at all those conditions in which absolutely rigid support is not needed.
It is yet another object of the present invention to introduce a multi purpose splint device that will be appropriate for the treatment of a wide range of conditions such as fractures, sprains, and post-operative support, that will prevent bedsores, and that will allow for the inspection of various wounds. The present invention provides a handy solution for the temporary support of an injured limb in field conditions and while transporting a patient, and can also be used as a long-term cast or bandage during the full course of treatment, including postoperative support.
The said splint offers solutions for the setting and treatment of various areas of the body, such as the neck, limbs, pelvis, spine, and chest areas. This novel splint answers the basic need for a simple device that is easy to use, handle, store, and transport.
It is yet another object of the present invention to offer a practical solution to the needs of various medical teams such as hospital staffs, EMS personnel, health care providers for the elderly, and army and police emergency teams, as well as for use in private homes.
The invention describes a splint designed to allow for an adjustable and comfortable fit to different parts of the body, which achieves maximum comfort and facilitates the recuperation period. It is a simply structured splint, which allows for uncomplicated assembly and operation. The splint is designed to fit the shape of the body part in need of treatment. It provides support and wrapping for the injured area from three sides. The splint is made out of inflatable ribs. Using a hand pump or an air pressure source tank, the ribs may be inflated to various degrees that provide the optimum support and comfort required for the particular conditions. Ventilation holes in the structure allow for sufficient airing and circulation of the treated area. The splints are secured into place by Velcro straps.
It is a further object of the present invention to allow the user movement and function of the joint and limb or body part, even at the site of the injury, to such a degree as is ordered by the treating physician. This concept being in line with contemporary knowledge on the healing of soft tissue wounds and bones. The quality of healing is enhanced in certain phases of repair and healing when controlled mechanical forces create a load on the healing tissues and enable movement of the injured area.
The simplicity of the design in one single unit, and assembly enables the medical or paramedical fitter or the patient himself to apply, use, assemble, and adjust the splint with minimal or no assistance.
The invention is the combination of inflated tubes with flexible material between the tubes, so designed in specific shapes for various bodies parts as to fit to the anatomical shape of the specific part when wrapped around the part and held together by means of Velcro straps.
These and further features and advantages of the invention will more clearly understood in the light of the ensuing description of a preferred embodiment thereof, given by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein—
The present invention is a new and simple medical device, aimed to help treat variety of general medical and surgical conditions, including orthopedic, rheumatic, and rehabilitative conditions, by supporting, splinting, and partially immobilizing the injured body part in a desired position. It is a comfortable-to-wear, lightweight device, which is simple and easy to assemble, water-resistant, and demands very little storage space. When deflated, the splint folds into a compact, flat package. This multipurpose device facilitates emergency and long-term treatments of different sorts of conditions, including support for injuries, dislocations, fractures, post operative conditions, and variety of diseases of the skeletal and local motor system
The preferred embodiments of the invention are inflatable and adjustable, suited to fit different body parts including the limbs, chest, torso, spine, pelvis, and neck. The measure of air pressure inflating the device and the manner of fastening it around a body part are controllable and may be adjusted to suit the specific needs of any given condition. The device is made from a double layer of nylon coated by polyurethane, a flexible and lightweight material that is also strong and waterproof.
According to known in the art research, it is advisable to enable the injured person some mobility and functionality within the splint as it contributes to the healing process. The present invention provides the patient with a supporting splint that is flexible enough to allow movement of nearby joints and even the injured site itself.
The lower right part 40 a and left part 40 b of the splint wraps around the foot, while part 41 covers the sole of the foot. Attaching Velcro straps 31 to strap 7 on top of the foot and strap 42 a to 42 b at the sole fastens the lower part of the splint for supporting the lower part of the foot.
Both the lower and the upper part of the splint have ventilating holes 52 to increase the comfort during long term use of the device, and at the edge of parts 40 a and 40 b there are loops 50 which, if necessary, allow for suspending the leg raised up on a hook 55 to prevent it from swelling, as illustrated in
Parts 24, 25, 26, 40, and 41 contain inflatable tubes. These tubes are designed to wrap the leg, the foot, the ankle, and the heel of the injured person, taking into account the leg's anatomical shape and structure for maximum compatibility. The tubes in the splint may be inflated using a hand pump 16 or other type of pump, which is connected to the said tubes through pipe 5 and valve 17. Alternatively, an air pressure source can be connected to valve 17 and used for the same purpose. Once inflated, a valve 15 may be used to open the airways and let the air out of the tubes. Combining the effect of hand pump 16 and valve 15 allows for achieving the desired pressure in the tubes resulting, in the required stiffness of splint 10 around the leg, so that the needed support is maintained and the movement and flexibility of the leg is controlled without causing unnecessary discomfort. The pressure that the air tubes create on the leg does not obstruct blood flow to the leg, and ventilation holes 52 allow for sufficient airing of the area. When inflated, the splint takes up the shape of the part of the body for which it was designed, as
Control over the amount of pressure and the tightness of the splint on the Leg is mainly achieved by tightening or loosening Velcro straps 6 and 7 to splint Velcro 30 and 31 respectively. In a different embodiment, Velcro straps 6 and 7 are stitched to one of the sides of the splint body 20. As illustrated in
The second embodiment of the invention is illustrated in
Like the main body of the first embodiment, these two sections are both comprised of inflatable tubes which, when assembled on the arm, are designed to support the arm from three directions.
Also seen in
Another embodiment of the present invention, shown in
For further clarification of the use and versatility of the present invention,
These unique designs for the splints, as described, allow for setting and stabilizing the injured body part while providing a controlled range of flexibility, ensuring the necessary support of the injured area, and improving the course of treatment for better results.
While the above description contains many specifities, these should not be construed as limitations on the scope of the invention, but rather as exemplifications of the preferred embodiments. Those skilled in the art will envision other possible variations that are within its scope. Accordingly, the scope of the invention should be determined not by the embodiment illustrated, but by the appended claims and their legal equivalents.