US 2939923 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
June 1960 J. D. HENDERSON ,93
HEARING AID PLASTIC EAR PIECES Filed Aug. 3, 1955 INVENTOR. v/w D. Hen 0525:!
'- A TTOIENEV! s ii Unit es Fatent O HEARING AID PLASTIC EAR PIECES John D. Henderson, 4203 N. Morris Blvd., Milwaukee, Wis.
Filed Aug. 3, 19'55, Ser. No. 526,126
Claims. (Cl. 179-182) This invention relates to hearing aid plastic ear pieces.
The major feature of the invention consists in the provision of a very soft tip for insertion into the auditory canal. The tip is desirably mushroom shaped with a radially projecting flange or head and it desirably comprises synthetic sponge whereby it is not only exceptionally soft but is somewhat porous. Such a tip is not only much more comfortable than any heretofore known but it may be used coincidentally with medication because its porosity enables it to retain the medication while the hearing aid is being worn instead of excluding the medication from contact with the skin of the auditory canal.
The degree of softness of the tip is such that it could not be introduced ,into the auditory canal were it not supported upon an inner plastic tube desirably vulcanized to the tip and which, While, resiliently flexible, is yet sufficiently rigid to be used as a means of propelling the tip into position. I may also provide the shank of my improved synthetic sponge tip with a secondary head or heads which may be of increased diameter as compared with the first head, the first head serving to anchor the shank within the second head against accidental withdrawal. I
Another feature of the invention consists in the manner in which the parts of the tip are connected to each other and to a molded insert which is desirably used as a means of anchoring it in the concha of the outer ear, the receiver being alternatively mounted directly on this insert or at the end of a tube leading to the insert and thence to the tip first described above. In certain cases I connect the receiver directly with the tip, the receiver in such cases being small enough to fit into the end or interior of the auditory canal.
Where the concha fitting is dispensed with, I may use another means of anchoring the external tubing about the wearers ear, including a piece of deformable spring wire shaped to fit over the ear and disposed within the sound tube.
In the drawings:
Fig. l is a view partially in side elevation and partially in section showing a hearing aid ear piece made in accordance with a preferred embodiment of this invention.
Fig. 2 is an end elevation of the device of Fig. l withthe receiver omitted.
Fig. 3 is a view similar to Fig. 1 illustrating a modified embodiment of the concha insert.
Fig. 4 is a view partially in side elevation and partially in section showing a modification of the device of 'Fig. 1, the speaker being at the end of a sound tube encircling the wearers ear.
Fig. 5 is a view in perspective of the device of Fig. 4.
Fig. 6 is a view partially in perspective and partially in section showing a further modification of the device of Fig. 4.
Fig. 7 is a fragmentary detail view taken in section on the line 7-7 of Fig. 6.
t 23%,92? Patented June 7, 1960 Fig. 8 is a view in perspective showing the device of Fig. 6.
Fig. 9 is an enlarged detail view in axial section of the auditory canal insert used in the device of Figs. 6 and 8.
Fig. 10 is a view partially in side elevation showing a further modified embodiment of the invention, portions of the auditory canal being shown in section.
Fig. 11 is a view in perspective of the device of Fig. 10. Fig. 12 is an enlarged detail view in axial section of an end portion of the device shown in Figs. 10 and 11.
Fig. 13 is a detail view in side elevation of a further modified embodiment of the invention, portions of the auditory canal being illustrated in section.
It is conventional practice to provide numerous forms and sizes of the concha-insert generically designated herein by reference character 15. My insert. 15 differs from conventional practice in that, in the first place, it is desirably made of reasonably flexible plastic. Instead of being hard, it is relatively easily deformable so that it readily adapts itself to the 'wearers ear notwithstanding that the latter may deviate from the various standards which have been set up in the industry.
In the second place, my improved insert 15 is desirably made as shown in Figs. 1, 2 and 3 for the detachable reception and retention of the sound discharge sleeve 16 of the electrical speaker 17. In the construction shown in Fig. 1 and Fig. 2, a hard insert 18 flanged for permanent retention in the plastic mold 15 has been molded into the plastic. It has an undercut groove at 19 to receive a snap ring which releasably engages the shallow groove 20 in the sound discharge sleeve 16 of the speaker 17.
Instead of providing the plastic element 15 with a metal insert 18, I may make the element 15 of two types of plastic fused together as shown in Fig. 3 at 150. The over-all shape remaining the same, there is -a base component 151 having a high degree of resilient flexibility and a relatively much more rigid component 152 which, while retaining sufiicient flexibility to receive the enlarged end of sleeve 16, still has rigidity enough to prevent the escape of 'such head from its constricted mouth at 153 through accident. The devices of Figs. 3 and l are both adapted to receive and detachably support the speaker unit 17 upon the concha element or retainer 15 A short length of relatively rigid but somewhat flexible tubing 22 which is externally screw threaded is screwed or molded into the fitting 15 and projects therefrom in a direction to enter the auditory canal and to receive sound waves issuing from the output sleeve 16 of speaker 17. The tip generically designated by reference character 25 is molded of very soft synthetic sponge in the preferred embodiment of the invention, its head portion 26 being soft enough to adapt itself not only to a wide variation of diameters of auditory canals of different wearers but to conform to the various shapes which such canals may assume in cross section. The synthetic sponge may be rubber but is desirably a spongy plastic (synthetic resin).
The shank portion 27 of the tip 25 is joined by fusion or vulcanization or by adhesive integrally with a plastic tube 28, the outer end of which is forced over the screw threaded tube 22 and is threaded thereon to any desired extent of telescopic lap. The element not only provides a secure mounting of the tip on tube 22 but also permits a very substantial range of axial adjustment to adapt the device to the requirements of different wearers. The sleeve 28, like the tube 22, is relatively considerably stifier than the synthetic sponge tip 25, since otherwise the tip could not be forced into place within the users auditory canal.
Optionally I may provide an additional annular flange 29 seated on the tubular shank 27 of tip 25 and likewise made of very light soft synth etic sponge. The auxiliary flange or head 29 will usually be of increased diameter. It provides an easy and satisfactory way of adapting the tip to the auditory canal of a person whose canal is bigger than that for which the dimensions of tip 25 were designed. The head 26 of the tip 25 prevents relative displacement of tip 25 with respect to the auxiliary head 29 in the direction of withdrawal. It is thus impossible for the auxiliary head 29 to become lost within the auditory canal of the wearer, since Withdrawal of the hearing aid will necessarily take the auxiliary head 29 with it.
As stated above, the fact that the head 25 and the auxiliary head 29 are made of soft porous spongy material not only makes the respective heads easily conformable to the patients ear canal contours, but enables the tips to be used as applicators for the medicinal treatment of the skin surfaces of the canal. In the use of ordinary hearing aids, the surfaces engaged by the plug or insert are inaccessible to med-icaments and can not be treated while the hearing aid is being worn.
In the device shown in Figs. 4 and 5, the plug or insert 25 may be identical with that shown in Fig. 1. The threaded tube 22 does not extend as far into the concha element 154, leaving a socket at 30 into which the end of flexible tube 31 is inserted to carry sound over the wearers ear from the connector 32 of receiver 17. Since the receiver is remote from the concha fitting 154 the latter is shaped dilferently and has no means for receiver connection such as that shown in Figs. 1-3. As shown in dotted lines, it is readily possible to disconnect the speaker and the speaker tube 31 by withdrawing the end of the latter from the fitting 154.
Figs. 6-9 show a somewhat differently shaped concha fitting 155 and the tube 225, instead of stopping at the fitting as in Figs. 1 and 4, is carried through to the outside of the fitting and turned upwardly at 34 to receive a telescopic sleeved connection with the free end of the speaker tube 315. This tube, instead of being short, to position the speaker behind the ear, as in the device of Figs. 4 and 5, is long enough to locate the speaker within the wearers shirt or elsewhere.
The tube 225 which projects into the auditory canal from the concha fitting 155 is also somewhat elongated and carries a multiple sponge material head. The outer head 255 corresponds closely to that shown in Figs. 1-5
but desirably has a tapered shank at 275 onto which the second head 256 is forced. This in turn has a tapered shank 276 onto which the third head 257 is forced. Any desired length of tube 225 may be used and any desired number of soft heads 255, 256 and 257 may be mounted thereon.
It will be observed that the device is adjustable to extend the tube 315 from the elbow 34 at any desired angle and to any desired length. Fig. 7 shows the elbow rotated to a different angle'from that shown in Fig. 6 andit also shows the threaded inner end of tube 225 bent at 35. Larger or smaller ears are accommodated by simply adjusting the tube 315 over the wearers ear and cutting off any surplus from its free end before the latter is sleeved over the elbow 34.
. Figs. to'13 show the concha fitting eliminated altogether. The synthetic sponge insert 25 shown in Figs.
. 4 10 and 13 is identical with that shown in Figs. 1-5. The flexible but less yieldable tube 228 has direct connection either with the sound tube 31 shown in Fig. 10 or with a small diametered speaker 178, fitting within the auditory canal as shown in Fig. 13.
Where the construction of Fig. 10 is used, it may optionally be desired to provide some means other than the concha insert to hold the equipment in place on the wearers car. For this purpose I may use within the sound tube. 31 a piece of wire as indicated at 40. The wire is sufliciently flexible so that it can be manipulated to a desired form and it is sufliciently resilient to return to that form after any normal deformation involved in applying or removing the hearing aid. The internal wire will, therefore, hold the sound tube 31 in a position which will conform it closely to the contour of the wearers ear at the junction of the ear to the head, thus serving as a means of holding theplug in its proper place in the auditory canal. 1
1. A hearing air ear plug comprising a sponge tip mounted on a separately fabricated tube, the tip and tube being of different materials having different degrees of flexibility and unitarily connected, the tip being so soft and easily deformable that it cannot readily be inserted within the ear canal without support, the tube opening through the tip and being of a material sufliciently flexible to accommodate itself readily to changes in direction of the ear canal but sufficiently stilf to support, guide and propel the tip during insertion, and to maintain an opening through the tip when in use.
2. The device of claim 1 in whichrsaidtip is mushroom shaped, having a tubular shank portion sleeved on the tubular support, and at least one flaring peripheral flange. a
3. The device of claim 1 in further combination with a sound tube communicating with the tube first mentioned and having a free internal longitudinally extending wire yieldably defining the direction of the sound tube.
4. The device of claim 1 in which the tip has a shank portion telescopically lapping the tube to an adjustably predeterminable extent, whereby to position the tip at a predetermined point in the ear canal, the tube having means for locating its position respecting the outer ear.
5. In a hearing aid the combination with a tubular support sufliciently flexible to accommodateitself to the external ear canal, of a first head integrally comprising a tubular shank portion and a peripheral flange of highly flexible soft sponge material, said tubular shank portion being telescopically positioned on said, support, and a second head of flexible soft sponge material mounted on the support and integrally comprising a tubular'shank portion and peripheral flange, the second head having its shank portion sleeved on the shank portion of the first head and encircling the support.
References Cited in the file of this patent i UNITED STATES PATENTS French Oct. 30, 1951