US 3102538 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Sept. 3, 1963 e. A. R. COWAN EAR PRESSURE PODS Filed May 4, 1961 INVENTOR G. A. Ross Cowan ATTORNEY rates This invention relates in general to new and useful improvements in driving equipment, and more particularly to a pressure equalizing ear pressure pod for a diving suit of the type used in conjunction with self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.
The effects of the high pressures on the human body when diving at depths are problems which have continuously faced divers, the pressure being approximately onehalf pound per square inch for every foot of depth. However, for the most part, the ill effects have been limited to the head, the other portions of the body, with the exception of gassy pockets in the lower food tract, being incompressible. In the use of self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, the breathing air is supplied to the diver through a face mask which covers the eyes, nose and mouth, or, more generally, through an air hose held in the mouth by a suitably formed mouthpiece while a face mask covers only the eyes and nose. A diver so equipped may or may not wear a diving suit depending upon water temperature and other conditions.
The diver utilizing self-contained apparatus faces a major problem of undue pressure on the ear drum. The human ear includes an outer ear canal which is separated from the inner ear and the middle ear by an ear drum. There is also an inner ear canal or Eustachian tube which is a continuation of the outer ear canal and opens into the throat, the inner and outer ear canals being separated by the ear drum. Thus, the ear drum is subject to rupture by a differential in the pressures in the inner and outer ear canals. 2
When a diver dives Without wearing a diving suit, the pressure of the surrounding water acts upon the outer surface of the ear drum through the outer ear canal. However, this pressure is counter-balanced by air pressure within the inner ear canal due to the pressure of breathing air in the throat which is supplied under pressure in accordance with the diving depth. The breathing passage in the throat is separated from the inner ear canal by a constriction that normally can be forced open by pinching the nose through the rubber part of the mask and blowing so that .the air pressure on the inner side of the ear drum is the same as that of the breathing air and the pressures on the ear drum are equalized eliminating undue discomfort and the possibility of the ear drum rupturing.
There are two types of diving suits for use with selfcontained underwater breathing apparatus. These are the so-called wet suit and the so-called dry suit. In the use of the Wet suit, water is permitted to seep into the suit with the trapped Water acting as insulation. The Water entering the suit is at the same pressure as the surrounding Water, and since this water also enters the helmet and acts on the ears, the ear pressure conditions when wearing a wet suit are the same as those encountered when diving without a suit. On the other hand, when a dry suit is worn, the helmet .of the suit protects the cars from the surrounding water pressures. As a result, while the pressure in the outer ear canal remains generally at atmospheric pressure, the pressure in the inner ear canal is at the higher pressure of the breathing air, thus causing an undue internal pressure on the ear drum. This can be relieved only by pulling the helmet away from the cheeks to let the water into the helmet and the water pressurizing the outer ear canal. This is not only unatent ice comfortable, but if not properly done, will result in the outward bursting of .the ear drum.
It is therefore the primary object of this invention to provide an ear pressure pod which may be used on a dry diving suit to apply the surrounding water pressure to the ear without submitting the ear to direct contact with the water.
Another object of this invention is to provide a pod which may be incorporated in present dry driving suits and which pod will provide an equalizing pressure in the outer ear canal in proportion to the surrounding water pressure.
Still another object of this invention is to provide a pressure equalizing ear pod for a dry diving suit, the helmet of the diving suit being tightly engaged with the outer ear and trapping the air in the outer ear canal, the helmet having a small opening aligned with the ear and the pod overlying the opening and being compressible to direct air into the outer ear canal from the pod to increase air pressure within the outer ear canal to substantially that of the surrounding water.
A further object of this invention is to provide an ear pressure equalizing pod for a dry diving suit, the pod being collapsible and the collapsing thereof being controlled by a filler of foam material therein.
With the above, and other objects in view that will hereinafter appear, the nature of the invention will be more clearly understood by reference to the following detailed description, the appended claims and the several views illustrated in the accompanying drawing.
In the drawing:
FIGURE 1 is a front view of the head of a diver wearing a diving suit incorporating the ear pressure pods.
FIGURE 2 is a side elevational view of the divers head of FIGURE 1.
FIGURE 3 is an enlarged fragmentary sectional view taken along the line 3-3 of FIGURE 1, with portions of the human ear schematically shown.
FIGURE 4 is an enlarged perspective view of that portion of the diving suit incorporating the ear pressure pod.
Reference is now made to the drawing in detail where i there is illustrated a helmet 10 of a dry diving suit.
ably secured to the outer sunface of the helmet 10 in sealed relation. The housing 14 is formed of a readily collapsible and flexible water-tight material such as rubber or a rubberlike product. The housing 14 is filled by a pad 18 of foam material or other resiliently collapsible cellular material. That portion of the helmet 10 which is aligned with the ear pressure pod 12 and the outer ear canal is provided with a small opening 2d. The opening 20 is of a size to permit the free flow of air between the interior of the housing 14 and the interior of the helmet 1% and at the same time being sufficiently small to prevent the movement of the pad 18 therethrough.
When the diving suit is in use, the housing 14 is subjected to the pressure of the surrounding water. If the housing 14 were not supported, it .would completely collapse at a low pressure. However, by filling the housing i l with the collapsible pad 18, the collapsing of the housing 14 is controlled so that the ear pressure pod 12 is effective to the desired operating depth. The size of the housing 14 will be in accordance with the desired openating depth and the nature of the pad 18 so that the necessary volume of air for pressuring the outer ear canal is provided.
Reference is now made to FIGURE 3, where the details of the human ear are shown. The ear includes an outer car 22 through which there opens the auditory canal or outer ear canal 24. The inner end of the outer ear canal 24 is closed by the ear drum 26. The middle ear 23 and the inner ear 30 are disposed inwardly of the ear drum 26. The Eustachian tube or inner ear canal 32 extends from the ear drum 26 inwardly to the pharynx or throat 34 with the communication between the throat and the inner ear canal being controlled by a constriction.
It is believed that the invention may now be understood by reference to FIGURE 3. When a diver uses a dry diving suit equipped with the ear pressure pods 12, the pressure within the inner ear canal is generally the same as the pressure of the breathing air within the throat, this pressure varying in accordance with the operating depth of the diver at the same time the pressure of the surrounding water tends to collapse the housing 14 of the ear pressure pod 12 with the collapsing of the housing 14 being resisted and controlled by the pad 18 therein. As the housing 14 is collapsed, air is directed into the outer ear canal through the opening 21 in the helmet the result that the air pressure within the outer ear canal is increased in accordance with the operating depth for the diver. Through the proper design of the housing 14 as to size and the pad 18 as to resistance to collapsing, the pressure in the outer ear canal can be rnade to balance the pressure in the inner ear canal, thus eliminating undesirable differential in pressures on opposite sides of the ear drum. In this manner, the usual diver discomfort and the possibility of a ruptured ear drum is eliminated.
' From the foregoing, it will be seen that novel and advantageous provision has been made for carrying out the desired end. However, attention is directed to the fact that variations may be made in the example pressure equalizing device disclosed herein without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as defined in the appended claims.
1. A helmet for a dry diving suit, said helmet being adapted to tightly engage and form a seal with the outer ears of a diver, said lhelmet having an opening in each side thereof for alignment and communication with the centnal portions of a users outer ear canals, and a collapsible ear pressure .pod attached to the outer surface of said helmet in overlying spaced relation to each opening for effecting the flow of air through the helmet opening to pressunize the outer ear canal in accordance with the pressure of the surrounding water, said ear pressure pod including a readily collapsible housing sealed to said helmet and forming a pressure-responsive chamber adapted to direct air into the outer ear canal due to the collapsing thereof from the surrounding water pressure, and deformable means having a normally expanded conditions disposed within said housing and substantially filling the same for controlling the collapsing thereof.
2. The structure of claim 1 wherein said deform-able means comprises a cellular pad substantially filling said pod chamber, said pad comprising a resilient material having a normal configuration substantially conforming to the shape of said pod chamber.
3. The structure of claim 1 in which said housing comprises a peripheral flange secured to said helmet and circumposed about said helmet openings.
References Cited in the file of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS nary Feb. 8, 1958