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Publication numberUS20080194389 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 11/972,299
Publication dateAug 14, 2008
Filing dateJan 10, 2008
Priority dateFeb 8, 2007
Publication number11972299, 972299, US 2008/0194389 A1, US 2008/194389 A1, US 20080194389 A1, US 20080194389A1, US 2008194389 A1, US 2008194389A1, US-A1-20080194389, US-A1-2008194389, US2008/0194389A1, US2008/194389A1, US20080194389 A1, US20080194389A1, US2008194389 A1, US2008194389A1
InventorsSylvia G. Southerland
Original AssigneeSoutherland Sylvia G
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Physical Training and Activity Center for Children
US 20080194389 A1
Abstract
The present invention is a physical training device for a person and relates to developmental activity centers with treadmills. The physical training device includes a treadmill base, an activity center, and a control means. The invention has an optional stationary or portable feature and is more effective in permitting safe and controlled walking development. In addition, the physical training device includes a variety of stimulating devices that improves both physical skills and cognitive skills by use of the invention.
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Claims(15)
1. A physical training device for a person, comprising:
a treadmill base having a floor support means, an enclosure, and a top surface, a treadmill mechanism housed within the enclosure and including an electric motor, a power means, at least two rollers having substantially parallel longitudinal axes, at least one roller being mechanically and rotationally coupled to the electric motor, and a treadmill belt engaged with each roller such that the electric motor may cause the treadmill belt to rotate around the rollers, at least a portion of the treadmill belt traversing the top surface of the treadmill base;
an activity center comprising an activity center supporting means adapted to support an activity tray above the treadmill base, a seat means having a seat adapted for suspending the person over the treadmill belt through a central aperture in the activity tray, the supporting means including a height adjustment means for adjusting the height of the seat over the treadmill belt; and
a control means electrically connected to the power means and the electric motor, the control means having a power switch means and a speed control means, the speed control means adapted to control the speed of the electric motor when the power switch means is in an “on” position.
2. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the floor support means is a plurality of lockable casters.
3. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the activity center supporting means is a plurality of rigid support legs, each support leg having a telescoping height adjustment pin and apertures therein for telescopically adjusting the height of each support leg.
4. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the activity center further includes a seat spring support disposed between the activity tray and the seat means, the seat spring support biasing the seat means to a preferred relative position with respect to the activity tray.
5. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the control means further includes at least one movement sensor fixed above the treadmill belt and adapted to detect motion of the person's legs when seated in the seat means, the control means activating the electric motor in response thereto.
6. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the seat is rotationally captured within the aperture of the activity tray.
7. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the activity tray further includes a pair of arm supports.
8. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the activity tray further includes a walking support rail fixed substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of each of the plurality of rollers.
9. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the activity tray further includes at least one activity mount adapted for selective removable attachment of one of a plurality of activity toys.
10. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the control means is fixed to a control tray fixed to the activity center supporting means, the control tray further including a cup holder.
11. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the control means further includes a sound recording and playback device, whereby the person may be encouraged by playback of an audible encouraging sound.
12. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the control means further includes a safety switch connected to a safety key, whereby if the safety key is removed from the safety switch power is disconnected from the electric motor.
13. The physical training device of claim 2 wherein the treadmill base further includes a handle on one side thereof, whereby the one side may be lifted by the handle and rolled on at least two of the casters.
14. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the power means is a retractable electric cord.
15. The physical training device of claim 1 wherein the power means is a battery.
Description
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application 60/900,373, filed on Feb. 8, 2007, and incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Not Applicable.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates to physical training devices, and more particularly to a training device for teaching walking and providing physical therapy to those with muscular deficiencies.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

There are numerous devices in this field to promote toddler walking and learning development. However, many of them have a limited continuum of safe walking development, or simply do not meet all walking and learning developmental needs, Typical of these is traditional child activity centers (or entertainment devices) that have limited movement capability that provides the child upright walking support. The child activity centers have waist level trays and seats that allow the child to have foot and surface contact with limited capability to promote walking and standing.

In addition, traditional child activity centers have spring devices. The spring devices allow the child to press downward with their legs, which promotes bouncing but not walking. Also, the activity centers provide weight support for the child but do not provide a safe active environment for a continuous walking development

Other activity training developmental devices meet specific needs rather than a variety of needs a child may have. Most training developmental and rehabilitative equipment require total hands on assistance and do not have an optional electric, battery activated or sensor movement mechanism to initiate a continuum of stepping reflex development that encourages the child to walk and learn at the same time.

DISCUSSION OF RELATED ART

Activity centers for children are well known in the art. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 6,715,826 B2 to Bellows et al. on Apr. 6, 2004 teaches a child activity center. Such devices are made to provide children developmental stimulation. However, despite the creation of different types of activity centers for children, these devices do not adequately meet the needs of children with physical and cognitive developmental limitations, especially walking and learning developmental needs.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,715,826 B2 to Bellows et al. on Apr. 6, 2004 teaches an activity center that surrounds the child. Toys and stimulating devices are placed on a tray surrounding the child. This arrangement allows a child to easily access and interact with a variety of stimulating devices. However, such an activity center does not adequately stimulate the physical development of a child with muscular limitations. Thus, a device is needed that not only provides mental stimulation to a child but also provides physical stimulation, especially to the lower body.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,688,211 to Myers on Nov. 18, 1997 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,407,246 to Meeker et al. on Apr. 18, 1995 teach child exercise devices. These devices provide entertainment and exercise for a child. Entertainment is provided by adding toys to the device. Exercise is provided by creating devices that allow a child to rock or bounce. Though these exercises are helpful to development, these devices do not teach a device that stimulates the important child development of continuous walking. U.S. Pat. No. 5,934,747 to Garland on Aug. 10, 1999 even teaches away from a walking device as the Garland patent cites a trend in activity centers to restrict the movement of a child seated in the activity center for safety reasons. Therefore, a device is needed that can combine the benefits of both mental stimulation to a child with the physical stimulation of continuous walking development.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,494,815 B1 to Welsh, Jr. on Dec. 17, 2002 discloses a device that teaches a walker that permits walking development. However, the Welsh, Jr. device teaches using a brake to constantly apply friction to inhibit the speed of the walker. Such a device may be appropriate for a child with strong walking capabilities, but the Welsh, Jr. device is not appropriate for children with weak walking ability. Therefore, a device is needed that promotes and stimulates walking development for children with developmental needs.

U.S. Pat. No. 7,287,768 to Myers et al. on Oct. 30, 2007 discloses a combined walker and activity center. The Myers et al. device teaches a device that promotes the benefit of stimulating a child's continuous walking development. However, the Myers et al. device teaches a device for walking around a room. Having a child walking around a room is not always safe or convenient, especially when the goal is to provide structured walking development for children with developmental needs. Therefore, a device is needed that stimulates walking development yet the device itself can remain stationary for reasons of safety and convenience. In addition to the device remaining stationary, a device is needed that provides the advantages of both self-initiated walking as well as the advantage of a device that initiates walking stimulation to improve walking skills.

Therefore, there is a need for a child activity center that provides both mental stimulation and physical stimulation, especially to the lower body. The needed device would stimulate continuous walking development, in particular the walking development of children having developmental needs. Further, the needed device would stimulate walking development yet remain stationary for reasons of safety and convenience. In addition, the needed device would provide the option of user-initiated walking as well as the option of device-initiated walking to improve walking skills. Such functionality would be connected with the activity center to provide the benefits of both mental and physical development together. The present invention accomplishes these objectives.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is a physical training device for a person and relates to developmental activity centers with treadmills. The physical training device includes a treadmill base, an activity center, and a control means. The invention has an optional stationary or portable feature and is more effective in permitting safe and controlled walking development. In addition, the physical training device includes a variety of stimulating devices that improves both physical skills (such as for persons with cerebral palsy, developmental delay, muscular dystrophy) and cognitive skills (such as for persons with Down syndrome, mental retardation, learning disabilities) by use of the invention.

The treadmill base has a floor support means, an enclosure, and a top surface. A treadmill mechanism is housed within the enclosure and includes an electric motor and a power means. The treadmill mechanism further includes at least two rollers having substantially parallel longitudinal axes with at least one roller being mechanically and rotationally coupled to the electric motor. A treadmill belt is engaged with each roller such that the electric motor may cause the treadmill belt to rotate around the rollers with at least a portion of the treadmill belt traversing the top surface of the treadmill base.

The activity center includes an activity center supporting means adapted to support an activity tray above the treadmill base. A seat means has a seat adapted for suspending the person over the treadmill belt through a central aperture in the activity tray. The supporting means includes a height adjustment means for adjusting the height of the seat over the treadmill belt. The activity tray further includes at least one activity mount adapted for selective removable attachment of one of a plurality of activity toys. In one more embodiment, the activity tray includes a walking support rail, fixed substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of each of the plurality of rollers.

The control means is electrically connected to the power means and the electric motor. The control means is fixed to a control tray connected to the activity center supporting means. The control means has a power switch means and a speed control means. The speed control means is adapted to control the speed of the electric motor when the power switch means is in an “on” position. In another embodiment, the power switch means further includes an “off” position and a manual position.

In use, the person is placed into the seat of the activity center. The height adjustment means is adjusted so that the person's legs are positioned in contact with the treadmill belt and closely aligned in a forward walking position. When the invention is activated in either the “on” position or the manual position, the invention provides stepping reflex development and encourages learning, walking and development of longer stride lengths.

The present invention is a child activity center that provides both mental stimulation and physical stimulation, especially to the lower body. The present device stimulates continuous walking development, in particular the walking development of children having developmental needs. Further, the present device stimulates walking development while remaining stationary for reasons of safety and convenience. In addition, the invention provides the option of user-initiated walking as well as the option of device-initiated walking to improve walking skills. The present invention provides all such functionality in one device to provide the benefits of both mental and physical development together. Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following more detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, which illustrate, by way of example, the principles of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1A is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating a floor support means;

FIG. 1B is cross-sectional view of the treadmill base, taken generally along lines 1B-1B of FIG. 1A;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating a power means;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating a control means; and

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the invention, illustrating activity toys and a pair of arm supports.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

With respect to the drawings, FIG. 1A illustrates a physical training device 10 for a person 15. The physical training device 10 includes a treadmill base 20, an activity center 110, and a control means 170. Preferably, the physical training device 10 is made primarily from a durable rigid material such as a rigid plastic material, but can also be formed from any suitable rigid material, such as wood or metal, if desired.

The treadmill base 20 has a floor support means 30, an enclosure 40, and a top surface 50. In FIG. 1B, a treadmill mechanism 60 is housed within the enclosure 40 and includes an electric motor 70 and a power means 80. The treadmill mechanism 60 further includes at least two rollers 90 having substantially parallel longitudinal axes with at least one roller 90 being mechanically and rotationally coupled to the electric motor 70, illustrated in FIG. 1B. A treadmill belt 100 is engaged with each roller 90 such that the electric motor 70 may cause the treadmill belt 100 to rotate around the rollers 90 with at least a portion of the treadmill belt 100 traversing the top surface of the treadmill base 20.

FIGS. 1A and 2 illustrate the activity center 110 including an activity center supporting means 120 adapted to support an activity tray 130 above the treadmill base 20. FIG. 2 illustrates a seat means 140 having a seat 150 adapted for suspending the person 15 over the treadmill belt 100 through a central aperture 135 in the activity tray 130. Preferably, the seat 150 is made from a fabric material such as a strong cotton material or nylon material, if so desired. In another embodiment, the seat 150 is rotationally captured within the aperture 135 of the activity tray 130, allowing the person 15 to rotate in different directions. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the seat 150 is optionally rotating. The supporting means 120 includes a height adjustment means 160 (FIG. 2) for adjusting the height of the seat 150 over the treadmill belt 100.

FIG. 3 illustrates the control means 170 which is electrically connected to the power means 80 and the electric motor 70. The control means 170 has a power switch means 180 and a speed control means 190 (FIG. 3). The speed control means 190 is adapted to control the speed of the electric motor 70 when the power switch means 180 is in a “manual control” position 186 (FIG. 3). In another embodiment, the power switch means 180 further includes an “off” position 182 (FIG. 3), whereby the treadmill belt cannot be rotated. In a preferred embodiment, the power switch means 180 further includes a “sensor” position 184 (FIG. 3), explained further below.

In one embodiment, the floor support means 30 is a plurality of lockable casters 35, illustrated in FIG. 1A. Alternately, as illustrated in FIG. 1B, the floor support means 30 may further include a pair of base support legs 31. In one embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 1B, the treadmill base 20 further includes a handle 290 on one side thereof 43, whereby the one side 43 may be lifted by the handle 290 and the invention rolled on at least two of the casters 35. In a preferred embodiment, the handle 290 is slidably contained within the treadmill base 20 and can slide out from the treadmill base 20 to facilitate transporting the invention. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the power means 80 is a retractable electric cord 85 illustrated in FIG. 1B. In another embodiment, the power means 80 is a battery (not shown), preferably a rechargeable battery.

In another embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 2, the activity center supporting means 120 is a plurality of rigid support legs 125. Preferably, each support leg 125 has a telescoping height adjustment pin 126 and apertures 127 therein for telescopically adjusting the height of each support leg 125, as illustrated in FIG. 2. In a preferred embodiment, at least two of the support legs 125 can be adjusted at the same time, the height adjustment pins 126 of the at least two support legs 125 mechanically connected to move simultaneously (not shown) to avoid having to adjust the height individually of each support leg 125.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the activity center 110 further includes a seat spring support 200 disposed between the activity tray 130 and the seat means 140, the seat spring support 200 biasing the seat means 140 to a preferred relative position with respect to the activity tray 130. In one embodiment, the seat spring support allows the person 15 to bounce within the central aperture 135.

In another embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, the control means 170 further includes at least one movement sensor 210 fixed above the treadmill belt 100 and adapted to detect motion of the person's legs 18 when seated in the seat means 140. In a preferred embodiment, the physical training device 10 includes two movement sensors 210 in either wired or radio communication with the control means 170. The control means 170 activates the electric motor 70 in response to detecting motion of the person's legs 18. Preferably, the “sensor” position 184 of the control means 170 is a low-speed motion-activated mode.

In one embodiment, the activity tray 130 further includes a pair of arm supports 220 (FIG. 4). In one more embodiment, the activity tray 130 further includes a walking support rail 230 (FIG. 3), fixed substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of each of the plurality of rollers 90. In FIG. 4, the activity tray 130 further includes at least one activity mount 240 adapted for selective removable attachment of one of a plurality of activity toys 245.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the control means 170 is fixed to a control tray 250 that is itself fixed to the activity center supporting means 120 with an adjustable support 171. As such, the control tray 250 may be selectively moved forward or backward to suit the height of a user (not shown) of the control means 170, or to stow the control tray 250 in a fully forward position (not shown) when the device 10 is not in use. The adjustable support 171 is preferably a clamp (not shown) that either slides by friction along the activity center support means 120 or rolls therealong with rollers (not shown), and is capable of being locked in place with a locking pin 126, for example. Alternately, as illustrated in FIG. 4, the control tray 250 is fixed to the activity center support means 120.

Preferably, the control tray 250 further includes a cup holder 260, illustrated in FIG. 3. In another embodiment in FIG. 3, the control means 170 further includes a sound recording and playback device 270, whereby the person 15 may be encouraged by playback of an audible encouraging sound. In one more embodiment in FIG. 3, the control means 170 further includes a safety switch 280 connected to a safety key 285, whereby if the safety key 285 is removed from the safety switch 280 power is disconnected from the electric motor 70. Preferably the safety key 285 uses a magnet to trigger the safety switch 280.

In use, the person 15 is placed into the seat 150 of the activity center 110. The height adjustment means 160 is adjusted so that the person's legs 18 are positioned in contact with the treadmill belt 100 and closely aligned in a forward walking position. In one use, the person's hands 19 (FIG. 4) are placed onto the support rail 230 for additional support. When the invention is activated in either the “on” position 184 or the manual position 186, the invention provides stepping reflex development and encourages learning, walking and developing of longer stride lengths.

While a particular form of the invention has been illustrated and described, it will be apparent that various modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. For example, the support rail 230 can be made adjustable to increase or decrease the height of the support rail 230 for persons 15 of different heights. Likewise, the control tray 250 can be adjustably attached to the activity center 110 to adjust the height of the control tray 250. Accordingly, it is not intended that the invention be limited, except as by the appended claims.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US7892150 *Oct 7, 2009Feb 22, 2011Colley George LCombined treadmill and seat assembly for physically impaired users and associated method
US8801581 *May 3, 2011Aug 12, 2014American Motion Fitness Products Inc.Treadmill foldable into a chair
US20120283070 *May 3, 2011Nov 8, 2012American Motion Fitness Products Inc.Treadmill foldable into a chair
Classifications
U.S. Classification482/54
International ClassificationA63B22/02
Cooperative ClassificationA47D1/00, A63B22/0235, A63B2208/12, A63H33/006, A47D3/00
European ClassificationA47D3/00, A47D1/00