US 2541487 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Feb. 13,' 1951 G. H. TRIPLETT SPINAL BRACE Filed Dec. 15, 41949 IN VEN TOR.
mmflw aM/L/ A 7' TORNE Y6 Patented Feb. 13, 1951 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE 6 Claims.
This invention relates to new and useful improvements in spinal braces.
One object of the invention is to provide an improved brace which when applied to the bodl7 will substantially immobilize the spinal column whereby said brace is particularly adapted for use in fractures of the vertebrae or other injuries to, as well as weaknesses of, the back or spine.
An important object of the invention is to provide an improved spinal brace which is constructed to rigidly support the vertebrae at each side thereof and having ilexible support means disposed between the side supports in overlying relationship to the spine, whereby the flexible means prevents rearward displacement of the vertebrae outwardly between the rigid supports and at the same time functions as a cushion for the vertebrae.
Another object is to provide a spinal brace wherein webbing or straps are interlaced with the main supports of the brace frame in such a manner that said webbing not only maintains the frame firmly against the body of the wearer but also said webbing is stretched across the vertebrae in close contact therewith to form both a flexible support and cushion for the vertebrae to prevent rearward displacement or'motion thereof.
A further object is to provide a spinal brace which is construced of a single piece of material which may be stamped, cast or molded whereby overlapping and riveting of the various parts of the brace is obviated and also whereby the entire inner bearing surfaces of the supporting bars and elements of the brace may contact and engage the body of the wearer to assure effective bracing action.
Another object is to provide a brace, of the character described, wherein two main upright supports are adapted to be disposed on each side of the vertebrae to form a rigid support against movement both from side to side and front to rear, together with openings in said upright supports within which straps may be interlaced to attach the brace in position and to dispose the straps across the space between the supports 1n spanning relationship to the vertebrae; said brace lending itself to various sizes for different locations of fractures with the openings for receiving the straps being variable in size and number to suit the particular purpose.
A still further object is to provide a brace, of the'character described, which is constructed of a single piece of material which may be of metal orother material having an inherent spring tension, with said material being covered with a protective coating of surgical rubber or similarmaterial or which may be made of plastic or other material which needs no covering, whereby the brace is sanitary and is also extremely light in weight which contributes greatly to the comfort of the wearer.
'I'he construction designed to carry out the invention will be hereinafter described together with other features thereof.
The invention will be more readily understood from a reading of the following specification and by reference to the accompanying drawings forming a part thereof, wherein an example of the invention is shown, and wherein:
Figure 1 is a View of a spinal brace, constructed in accordance with the invention, and illustrating the same applied to the body,
Figure 2 is an isometric view of the brace, with the inner bearing surfaces of the brace members disposed forwardly,
Figure 3 is an enlarged sectional detail ilustratving the engagement of the upright supports with the body and showing the webbing or straps spanning the vertebrae,
Figure 4 is an elevation of the brace frame, prior to its being shaped to fit the body of the wearer, and
Figure 5 is a partial elevation of a modified form of the invention.
In the drawings, the numeral I 0 designates the main frame of the improved brace and said frame includes a pair of upright supports or bars I2 which are co-extensive and which are spaced from each other to provide an open area I3 therebetween. It is preferable that the frame IU be constructed of one piece and as is clearly shown in Figures 2 and 4, the upper ends of the co-eXtensive supports II and I2 are connected by an integral section I4 while their lower ends are connected by an integral section I5. Upper laterally extending arms I6 and I 1 project outwardly from the upper portions of the supports II and I2, respectively, while lower lateral arms I8 and I9 project outwardly nfrom the lower portions of the supports I I and I2, respectively.
The upright supports orbars I I and I2, the sections I4 and I5,` as well as the lateral arms I6 to I9, may all be formed from a single piece of flat material, as is clearly illustrated in Figure 4. The supports II and I2 are relatively flat, as are the lateral outwardly extending arms and after being formed in the manner shown in Figure 4, the frame is tted to the body of the wearer by properly curving the bars II and I2 `to t the area on each side of the spinal column and by curving the upper arms l5 and I1 to fit the back below the shoulder blades. The lower arms i8 and I9 are properly curved to fit the lower back substantially opposite the hip line and thus the frame will be arranged to lie flat with all of its bearing surfaces in engagement with the body of the wearer. It is preferable that the frame le be constructed of heat treated aluminum which is light in weight with good spring tension and then rubberized, that is, covered with a protective coating of surgical rubber, plastic or other suitable material. However, it is apparent that the frame may be constructed of any suitable material having inherent spring tension and as a matter of fact could be made of plastic and roperly molded or preformed, in which event the coating could be eliminated.
By forming the frame lil of one piece and mahing the lateral arms and upright supports or bars integral with each other the necessity of overlapping the various parts and riveting them together is obviated. Thus,v when the frame is properly shaped to iit the back of the wearer, all of the inner surfaces of the frame Iii will firmly engage the back of the wearer. It is noted that where the lateral arms are riveted at the intersection with the upright bars il and l2, either the bars or the arms do not engage the body at the point of such intersection and a firm contact throughout the entire area of the frame is not had. With the frame herein illustrated proper contact of all of the inner surfaces of the frame with the body is effected.
When the frame. iii is applied to the back the upright supports or bars il and i2 are disposed one on each side of the spinal column and extend throughout the spinal region. The bar l! is formed with a plurality of slots 2), each of which extend longitudinally of the bar and each of which is preferably disposed nearer the inner longitudinal edge portion Ha of said bar. The slots are spaced throughout the length of the bar and any desired number of slots may be provided,
The second upright support or bar i2v is formed with similar longitudinally extending slots 2l which are located nearer the inner longitudinal edge [2a of said bar and as is` clearly shown in the drawings, each slot 2l in the bar l2 is aligned in a horizontal plane with one of the slots 20 in the bar or support i i. Thus, it may be said that the slots 20 and 2i are arranged in pairs with each Ypair being disposed in the same horizontal plane.
F01` attaching the brace to the body in proper position and also for providing a iieXible support which spans the longitudinal opening i3 between the bars il and l2 a plurality of iiexible strap elements or webbing 22 are provided. Each strap element 22 is of amplified width and is adapted to be interlaced with the upright supports or bars H' and i2. As shown in Figure 3, each strap 22 overlies the outel1 longitudinal edge portion lib of the. bar i! and is then passed downwardly through one of the slots 2li. gages the body of the wearer and spans the space |3 between the bars. The strap then passes outwardly through the complementary slot 2l in the bar l2 and extends over the outer longitudinal edge portion i219 of the bar l2. In this manner, each strap element is confined beneath the inner edge portion lia ofthe bar H and beneath the inner edge portion i211 of the bar i2.
, The strap elements 22 -have one end connected to a, wide band 23 which is provided with Vsuitable The strap then en- 4 buckles 2d on its outer surface and these buckles are adapted to receive the free ends or" the strap elements whereby the strap elements may be tightened about the body. Because oi the particular interlacing arrangement as shown in Figure 3, it will be apparent that tightening of the strap elements 22 will yapply an inward pressure to the upright supports or bars ii and i2 and will at the same time urge said bars inwardly into firm engagement with the baclz. As the bars move inwardly their inner longitudinal edge portions iia and ia overlie that portion of each strap element which is spanning the space it and this forces said portion of each strap element into firm engagement with the baci; area which is exposed through the opening i3. This is the area in which the vertebrae indicated at V in Figure 3 is disposed and thus the strap elements 22 will provide a flexible brace and cushion for the vertebrae to prevent outward displacement of the vertebrae through the opening i3. Because the straps are of an amplined width it is apparent that they have substantial contact with the body and may therefore function eiiiciently as a ilexible brace member. Since the material of which the frame is constructed preferably has an inherent spring tension, said frame will assist in maintaining that portion of the strap elements spanning the opening i3 in tight contact with the body.
In order to assure maintenance of the upper brace arms iii and il with the body these arms have a strap 25 connected to their respective ends and said strap is adapted to encircle the body and be buckled about the chest. A fastening strap 2S is also connected to the lower lateral arms IS and i9 and is arranged to be buckled about the lower abdomen whereby said lower arms are maintained in rm engagement with the lower back.
When the brace is applied to the body of the weareras illustrated inFigure 1, the upright supports or bars il and i2 are disposed one on each l side of the spinal column. The upper brace arms i6 and il irmly engage the back below the shoulder blades while the lower arms i8 and i9 engage the lower back at substantially the hip line. The straps 25 and 25 assure the maintenance of a tight contact between the brace arms and the body.
The strap elements or webbing 22 are interlaced throughout the slots 2t and El i-n the manner shown in Figure 2, and said strap elements are then rmly tightened by means of the buckles 2li. As the strap elements 22 are tightened said elements pull the main upright supports or bars i! and i2 into firm engagement with the body on each side of the vertebrae and at the same time that portion of the straps 22 which is spanning the opening i3 between the bars il and i2 is pressed into tight Contact with the body in overlying relation to certain of the vertebrae in accordance with the position of the slots 2i) and 2i. The slots are relatively closev together in horizontal planes and thus the strap-elements interlaced through the members provide a substantially continuous flexible support which will prevent the vertebrae from being displaced outwardly through the open area i3 between the bars. The flexibility of the straps also provides a cushioning effect which functions to cushion the vertebrae.
The upright supports or bars li and yIi! being relatively flat and being lmaintained in contact with the body will furnish support for the spinal column from side to side andI also from front to rear. The upper and lower cross-brace arms being held snugly in engagement with the body throughout its end bearing surfaces will assist in holding the main brace supports or arms H and I2 in position. It might be noted that because thel arms and uprights are integral with each other the entire inner surface of the brace will engage the body since there is no overlapping of the brace members making up the frame which might interfere with complete contact throughout the entire area of the frame. The upright bars il and I2, being held rigidly against the back on opposite sides of the vertebrae, will substantially immobilize the back or spine, and the webbing or strap elements 22 which span the open area i3 between the bars provide a flexible brace or support which will prevent outward or rearward displacement of the vertebrae through this open area or space. Not only do the strap elements 22 form a flexible brace or support for the vertebrae but they also function to maintain the bars l i and I 2 in rm contact with the body. The inherent spring tension in the material of which the brace is constructed assists the strap elements in maintaining the brace in proper supporting position by applying pressure to the back and also by applying pressure to that portion of the strap elements overlying the spine.
In the drawings, three strap elements have been illustrated but obviously this number may vary in accordance with the particular type of injury or back weakness. In some instances one strap element may be suficient although in most cases it has been found that at least two are preferable. Therefore, the invention is not to be limited to any particular number of strap elements 22 since the number will be more or less dependent upon the condition being treated. i
In some instances it may be desirable to lengthen the brace so as to provide a support for the upper spinal region. In such case the upper portion of the frame will be constructed as shown in Figure 5, wherein the connecting section I4 which connects the upper ends of the supports or bars Il and l2 is extended upwardly as indicated at lia. In this case, the upper 'lateral brace arms IB and I1 are of necessity curved downwardly as indicated at la and Ila in order that these arms may engage the back below the shoulder blades. When the connecting section I4 is extended, the length of the main supports or bars i l and i2 is also extended and additional strap elements or webbing 22 may be employed by providing additional slots in said bars. I-Iowever, the function of the brace inrproviding a rigid support for the back will be the same.
As shown in the drawings, the slots 2li in the upright bars Il and the slots 2l in the bar l2 are disposed nearer the inner longitudinal edge of said bars; however, the slots may be disposed centrally of the bars or may be located nearer the outer longitudinal edge. So long as the strap elements 22 may be interlaced with the bars in a manner to urge the bars against the body while spanning the area between the bars to provide a flexible support for the vertebrae the purposes of the invention will be accomplished.
From the foregoing it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all of the ends and objects hereinabove set forth, together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure.
It will be understood thatcertainfeatures and subcombinations are of' utility and may be employed without reference to other features and subcombinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims.
As many possible embodiments may be made of the invention without departing from the scope thereof, it is to be understood that all matter herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings is to be interpreted as illustrative and not in a limiting sense.
Having described the invention, I claim:
1. A spinal brace including, a pair of spaced substantially parallel supports adapted to engage the back of the wearer of the brace on each side of the spinal column, an upper rigid connecting section extending between the upper ends of the supports for connecting said upper ends together in spaced relationship, a lower rigid connecting section extending between the lower ends of the supports for connecting said lower ends together in spaced relationship, upper lateral supporting arms extending outwardly from the upright supports adapted to engage the back below the shoulder blades, lower lateral arms extending from the lower ends of the support adapted to engage the lower back of the wearer, each support having openings therein and flexible strap elements of substantial width threaded through the openings in the supports and arranged to encircle the body for fastening the brace in position, a portion of each strap element spanning the space between the supports in overlying relationship to the spinal column when the brace is attached to the body.
2. A spinal brace including, a pair of spaced substantially parallel supports adapted to engage the back of the wearer of the brace on each side of the spinal column, an upper rigid connecting section extending between the upper ends of the supports for connecting said upper ends together in spaced relationship, a lower rigid connecting section extending between the lower ends of the supports for connecting said lower ends together in spaced relationship, upper lateral supporting arms extending outwardly from the upright supports adapted to engage the back below the shoulder blades, lower lateral arms extending from the lower ends of the support adapted to engage the lower back of the wearer, each support having an opening therein, a strap element threaded through the openings in the supports and arranged to encircle the body for fastening the brace in position, a portion of the strap element spanning the space between the supports in overlying relationship to the spinal column when the brace is attached to the body, and additional attaching straps connected to the upper and lower lateral arms and also encircling the body for maintaining the lateral arms in close engagement with the body of the wearer.
3A A spinal brace including, a pair of substantially ilat elongate supports spaced from each other in co-extending relationship and having their ends connected together, said supports being adapted to engage the back of the wearer on each side of the spinal column, each support having a relatively narrow slot therein with the slots of the supports being in horizontal alignment when the brace is applied to the body of the wearer, and a flexible strap element arranged to encircle the body threaded through the slots of the supports and having the portion' between the supports adapted to overlie and engage the spine' toY form a cushion and flexible brace therefor when the brace is aplied to the body of the wearer.
4. A spinal brace including, a pair of substantially at elongate supports spaced from each other in co-extending relationship and having their ends connected together, said supports being adapted to engage the back of the wearer on each side of the spinal column, each support having a relatively narrow slot therein with the slots of the supports being .in horizontal alignment when the brace is applied to the body of the wearer, Yand a flexible Vstrap element arranged to encircley the body threaded through the slots of the supports and having the portion between the supports adapted to overlie and engage the spine to form a cushion and flexible brace therefor, said strap engaging over the outer longitudinal edge portion and beneath the inner longitudinal edge portion of each support, whereby tightening of the strap urges the supports into firm engagement with the body of the wearer and at the same time urges that portion of the strap spanning the space between the supports into close contact with the spine.
5,. A spinal brace asset forth in claim 4, wherein. each support is formed with a plurality of said slots with the slots in one support being aligned horizontally with the slots of the other support when the brace is in .position on the body of the wearer, .and a plurality of flexible strap elements, one for `each pair of aligned slots in the supports, interlaced with said supports.
(ir As a sub-combination in a spinal brace,a brace frame comprising, a pair of flat relatively elongate supporting elements spaced from each other and disposed in substantially parallel relationship, integral sections connecting the ends of the elements, lateral brace arms extending at substantially a right angle outwardly from one end of the elements, and additional brace members extending at substantially a right angle outwardly from the other end of the elements, said brace arms and brace members being integral with the supporting elements, each support having a plurality of longitudinally extending slots therein and the slots of one element being aligned in a plane transversely of the elongate supporting elements with the slots of the other element.
GEORGE H. TRIPLETT.
REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the le of this patent:
UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date 709,055 Sheldon Sept. 16, 1902 2,453,370 Hittenberger Nov. 9, 1948 FOREIGN PATENTS Number Country Date 18,610 Great Britain Nov. 21, 1889 of 1889