US 3080011 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
- March 5, 1963 J. D. HENDERSON EAR CANAL INSERT Filed July-l6, 1956 #Will/[1171111111101 INVENToR. dof-'w 0. Hex/orma# A rroENEYS United States Patent O 3,080,011 EAR CANAL ENSERT .lohn D. Henderson, 4263 N. Morris, Milwaukee, Wis. Filed July lo, 1956, Ser. No. 59%62 8 Ciaims. (Ci. ISL- 23) This invention relates to an ear canal insert. The insert may be used a part of a hearing aid device. In another embodiment, it is adapted to lserve `as a stopper to exclude sound or water from the ear canal. This latter embodiment may -be converted for use :as a hearing aid device by simply severing unneeded portions thereof.
The major feature of the invention consists in the provision of a very soft tip comprising one or more units having head portions comprising mushroomshaped anges desirably made of natural .or synthetic rubber or plastic. These anges are desirably so soft that if they were made integral with the tube upon which they are mounted, the tube would not have sufficient stiffness to enable the tip to be inserted into the auditory canal. Accordingly, while the mounting tube is quite lexible, so that it will follow all irregularities of the auditory canal, it nevertheless is considerably stilier than the material of which the mushroom-shaped head portion iianges are formed. These `flanges desirably have tubular hub portions telescopically sleeved onto the mounting tube and desirably interlock with each other and with the tube.
Another feature of the invention consists in the manner in which the tip is mounted on a sound tube which is swiveled in the ear mold, the latter being .adapted to be anchored in the concha of the outer ear and having -a portion normally lying behind the tragus. The sound tube desirably has a compound curve which may, for example, comprise two right angle bends .in different planes, the tube passing from one directly into the next. The end of the tube passes through the mold and has telescopically sleeved onto it the mounting tube of the tip'. External Iformation of the sound tube is such 4that when it is swiveled to the position of use, a portion of the tube extends upwardly behind the tragus of the wearers ear, locking the mold in the ear. rhis position of the parts would not permit .the mold to be inserted or removed but for the fact that the sound tube is swiveled in the mold and can readily be moved pivotally to 'and from this iocking position.
lt will be understood that the insert comprising the mounting tube and the mushroom-shaped flanges can be used independently of any mold both for hearing aid purposes and for purposes of an ear stopper.
In fact, the mounting tube may 4be extended beyond the outermost liange and provided with a Asubstantially closed end so slit that it may readily open when manipulated by the Wearers hand,` but will normally be closed to exclude both water and sound. The opening of the slit end by manipulation is desirable because it precludes the trapping of `air during manipulation of the insert into and from the `auditory canal.
In the drawings:
FIG. l is a view in perspective showing a hearing aid device embodying the invention.
FIG. 2 is a view in axial section through the device ot FiG. l.
FlG. 3 is a detail view of the portion of the 'sound tube which is swiveled in the ear mold in the device of PEG. 1 and PlG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged detail view in axial section of a modiiied type of ear insert suitable for use as a stopper.
FIG. 5 is a view in axial section of a further modified ear insert embodiment.
The mold Iii may be of any conventional design. As shown, it includes an extension 1l formed to extend behind bdddili iiiatented Mar. 5, 1963 the tragus of the Wearers ear. Extending through the mold is a hole `at 12 in which there is mounted a sound tube i3 having a portion i4 projecting beyond the mold to mount the tip hereinafter described. The sound tube can be swiveled in the mold to oscillate between the full and dotted line positions in which it is illustrated in FIG. l. As it issues from the mold, it is bent at 15 to extend laterally toward a point beneath the tragus anch-or 11 of the mold. Upon reaching a point beneath mold portion il, the sound tube is bent upwardly at 16 to receive sound tube extension 17 which leads `to it from the speaker 18, wherever that be located. As the art well knows, there are various other potential arrangements for the speaker, including direct connection with the straight portion of tube 13 immediately adjacent the mold, thereby dispensing with the curves 15 and 16 above described. The arrangement disclosed, however, is the more usual one land it has the advantage that in the use of the device, with the mold 1) in the wearers ear, the extension i7 of the sound tube passes directly in front of the mold extension il to lock the mold into the ear. For manipu lation of the mold to or from position of use, the sound tube 13 is swung to the position illustrated in full lines in FIG. 1. Only after the mold is in place is the sound tube swung to the dotted line position and passed behind the ear.
The invention contemplates the use of materials of three different and distinct degrees of stiffness. The sound tube 13, 3.4, 1S, 16 and 17 is iiexible but offers considerable resistance to bending. It is relatively stiff. The insert mounting tube 20 ha-s only sufficient lstiiiiness so that it can be used to force the insert portion of the device into the ear canal. lt should be suliiciently flexible to follow readily the bends in the ear canal, no two canals being alike. The annular iianges 21, 22., 23 and 24 which cornprise the head portions of successive mushroom-shaped units are very soft indeed, being readily foldable inwardly in the manner indicated in dotted lines in FIG. 4. These are desirably made of plastic material of progressively increasing radius. They also may be natural or synthetic rubber .of any adequately sof-t synthetic resin or sponge. The largest ange 24 desirably has a generally cylindrical skirt portion 2S which, under water pressure, would completely seal access to the ear canal.
The several iianges 2l, 22, 23 and 2d desirably have hub sleeve portions Zd, 27, 23, 29. Each is provided with an annular seat for the end of the next. The seat 3d of hub portion 2o receives an annular stop desirably in the form of a flange or ring 31 which is desirably molded integrally with the inner end of mounting tube 2). The tubular hub sleeve portion 29 of the outer flange 24 may taper as shown, since it does not have any interlocking connection with any other part. The other hub sleeve portions are simply beveled at their ends to engage in the successive seats provided by the hub sleeve portions of successive flanges.
in the device shown in FiG. 4, the mounting tube 20 extends outwardly well beyond the external ear and is provided with a normally ciosed tip 32 which may taper to a biunt point. This tip is divided into two parts by a normally closed transverse slit at 33 which extends beyond the relatively heavy portion 3d wherein the internal passage 3S is greatly reduced as compared with the normal cross section of the mounting tube 26.
The device as shown in adapted for use as an ear stopper to be Worn by divers to exclude water or to be worn by any person during sleeping periods to exclude sound. The arrangement is such that the projecting portion of the mounting tube may be used as a handle to manipulate the stop, er into and from the ear. In the course of such manipulation, pressure on the mounting tube wiil spring the parts 3o and 3-7 open as indicated in dotted lines in FIG. 4, thereby placing the interior of the mounting tube in communication with the external atmosphere so that air cannot be trapped to increase or decrease 'pressure in the Wearers ear during insertion or removal of the plug. Such trapping would inevitably 'occur kby reason'of the engagement of the soft flanges 21, 22, 23 with 'the auditory canal of the wearersear but for this venting te ature.
The identical-device can be adapted for hearing aid use simply by cutting oft unneeded portions of the mounting tube 20 where theseproject outwardly beyond hub 29. JFIG. 2 shows the identical device remaining after the unneeded portions of the mounting tube have been removed. The retained portion of the mounting tube is then sleeved onto the inwardly projecting end 14 'of sound tube 13 to seal vthe wearers auditory canal against sound other than such as is supplied through the sound tube.
in the alternative arrangement of FIG. 5, the head portion anges 210, 220- and 230 correspond to flanges 21, 22 and 23 of the device heretofore described except that they comprise synthetic sponge rubber. Their hub sleeve portions 260, 27d and 280 are all tapered so that each successively applied hea-d portion flange slides up onto the tapered hub sleeve portion of the flanged unit which precedes it.
It will be understood that in any of these devices it is perfectly practicable to use only one head portion ange if desired, it vbeing intended that as many auxiliary units will be supported on the mounting tube as may be re quired for the particular installation. The illustration of three flanges in FIG. and four in FIGS. 1, 2 and 4 merely represents normal conventional practice and `is merely by way of exemplication. The head portion iianges may also be of any appropriate radius, being freely selectively applicable to the mounting tube.
The tact that these head portion flanges are made of ultra soft material as described not only enables them to conform to any ear canal without undue pressure, but also enables them to change their form to accommodate changes Vin the ear canal such as occur constantly as Ythe wearer chews or speaks or otherwise moves the muscles aiiecting the shape ofrhis ear canal. Moreover, the `very softness of these tlanges so completely eliminates feedbac' that this is not a Yproblem at any ynormal speaker volume. In -many hearing Vaids, -sound waves communicated to the ear canal through the sound tube are mechanically transmitted from the wall `of the auditory canal back through the ear plug to the speaker, causing whistle. In actual tests, it has been found that Whistle is almost completely absent in the use of the insert here described and occurs only when the volume of sound delivered from the speaker is so excessive `as to be abnormal.
1. An auditory canal insert comprising a mounting tube portion and an annular peripherally anged head portion mounted thereon, the said head portion comprising material too soft to maintain its form when pushed into the ear and the mounting tube portion constituting a flexible tubular support of sufiicient stiffness to be used as a means of inserting the head portion and to maintain an open passage therethrough, the mounting tube portion having a terminal stop and the head portion comprises a tubular hub sleeve seated against lsaid stop.
2. The device of claim 1 rin further combination with at least one additional head portion comprising an annu- 4. lar flange and a tubular hub sleeve through which the mounting tube extends, the tubular hub sleeve engaging the hub sleeve of the first mentioned head portion.
3. An auditory canal insert comprising a mounting tube portion and an annular peripherally anged head portion mounted thereon, the said head portion comprising ma terial too soft to maintain its form when pushed into the ear and the mounting tube portion constituting a iiexible tubular support of sufficient stiffness to be used as a means ot inserting the head portion and to maintain an open passage therethrough, the head portion comprising a tubular hub sleeve through which the mounting tube portion extends and in further combination with a plurality of additional head portions each comprising a soft annular an'ge and a hub sleeve through whichthe mounting tube portion extends, the 'several hub sleeves being in end to end engagement.
4. The device of claim 3 in which each hub sleeve has Ia terminal annular seat'adapted to'receive the hub sleeve of `a preceding head, the mounting tube portion having a seating ange engaging the seat of the hub sleeve of the innermost head.
5. An auditory canal insert comprising a mounting tube 'portion and an annular peripherally flanged head portion mounted thereon, the said 'head portion comprising material too soft to maintain its form when pushed into the ear and the mounting tube portion constituting a flexible tubular support of suiiicient stiinessto be used as a means kof inserting the head portion and to maintain an open passage therethrough, and a concha mold having a sound communicating tube extending therethrough and with which the said mounting tube portion is in telescopic connection.
6. The device ofclaim 5 in which the mold has anextension adapted to lie behind the tragus of the wearers ear, the sound tube beingswiveled in the mold and having an extension upwardly in proximity to the mold Aextension and movable upon the swiveled connection of the sound tube with the mold to and from tragus-embracing position.
7. In a device of the character described, the combina;
tion with a concha mold having an extension adapted to project behind the tragus of the wearers ear, of a sound tube with which the mold has a swiveled connection, said tube communicating therethrough with the auditory canal of the wearer, said sound tube including a portion movable upon said swiveled connection to vand from a position opposite said mold extension.
V8. The device of claim 7 in further combination with an auditory canal insert mounted on the sound tube, the sound tube having a portion extending through the mold for the support of the insert.
References Citedin the iile of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS Henderson lune 7, 1960