US 3327703 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
P- B. GAMM WRIST BRACE ne 27, i967 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Aug. 15, 1964 INVENTOR. PAULBGAMM,
M nan .A'Q'ORNfiYS,
P. B; GAMM June 27, 1967 WRIST BRACE 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Aug. 13. 1964 INVENTOR. PAUL B.GAMM,
United States Patent 3,327,793 WRIST BRACE Paul B. Gamm, Hamilton County, Ohio, assignor to Jung Products, Inc., Cincinnati, Ohio, a corporation of flhio Filed Aug. 13, 1964, Ser. No. 389,352 12 Claims. (til. 128-77) This invention relates to wrist braces and has to do more particularly with an improved elastic brace which, in addition to supporting and stabilizing the wearers wrist, is designed to maintain the wrist in healing position while at the same time permitting sufiicient voluntary flexing movement to prevent atrophy or a weakening of the muscles due to inactivity which would result if the wearers hand were completely immobilized.
While numerous wrist braces and supports have hither to been proposed, inclusive of elastic bandages and elastic cuffs, together with heavier supports wherein the wrist and/ or hand is firmly bound, such supports usually being being made of leather with lacings, none of the foregoing types of supports is truly satisfactory. An elastic bandage is difiicult to apply and remove, as Well as being bulky and unsightly. Unless wrapped by an expert, it rarely exerts proper support; and even then, the support is not uniform in the critical areas. Cuff supports, whether they be elastic or non-elastic, do not truly support the wrist since they surround the forearm in an area essentially above the wrist proper. The heavier supports are generally difiicult to apply, usually requiring the services of another person to tighten and tie the laces or tighten and buckle the straps. By and large, such supports do not exert pressure where it is needed mostabout the carpal ligamentso as to hold the bones of the wrist securely in place and support the joint actions within the wrist. Such supports are generally bulky and uncomfortable, and they rarely permit flexing of the fingers and hence desirable exercising of the injured parts.
In contrast to the foregoing, the instant invention provides an elastic wrist brace which supports the entire wrist, the brace extending from the arm bone, over the wrist to the bones of the hand, thereby supporting and stabilizing the entire wrist area.
A principal object of the invention is the provision of an elastic brace of the character described which incorporates a removable plastic reinforcer or stay fitted in a pocket in the brace, the reinforcer extending along the palm of the hand and acting to maintain the wrist in healing position (the hand cocked outwardly at an angle of approximately 32 from the longitudinal axis of the forearm). In addition, the reinforcer has a built-in resilient action which permits the wearer to move the wrist bones slightly from time to time to exercise them and hence prevent weakening of the muscles due to inactivity. It also enables the wearer to overcome the resistance of the brace when necessary in the use of the hand.
Still a further object of the instant invention is the provision of an elastic wrist brace of the character described formed from dual tension elastic material i.e., material having areas of lesser and greater elasticity, the brace being designed to provide increased or heavy tension, i.e., areas of lesser elasticity, over the carpal, transcarpal, as well as the transverse metacarpal ligaments, these ligaments comprising the areas most frequently injured in strains and sprains of the wrist and hand, and hence those requiring the greatest support.
Still a further object of the instant invention is the provision of an elastic brace in which the top of the brace is specifically contoured to give maximum support to the transverse metacarpal ligaments on the dorsal side of the hand, and yet on the volar or palm side of the hand, the top of the brace lies below the distal crease of the palm to permit bending of the metacarpophalangeal articulations, thereby permitting the wearer to restrain full use of all fingers while wearing the brace. Additionally, the brace is designed to permit the thumb to remain in line with the radial bone of the arm while worn, and hence permits the thumb complete freedom to operate normally. This action combined with the freedom of the metacarpophalangeal articulations, permits the hand to function normally while the brace is worn.
Still another object of the instant invention is the provision of a brace of the character described which is designed to be worn on either hand by merely removing the reinforcer or stay, turning the brace inside out and reinserting the reinforcer in its pocket. At the same time the brace can be worn on either hand for mild support without using the reinforcer, the contoured configuration of the brace itself serving to exert sufiicient pressure to displace the hand outwardly to the healing position. To this end, the brace is preferably of two piece construction, the pieces being cut to a specific cont-our which holds the hand naturally in the desired angular position. The elastic material eliminates the need for laces, buckles, and the like. and hence the brace can be put on and removed by the wearer without the assistance of another person.
The foregoing, together with other objects of the invention which will appear hereinafter or which will be apparent to the skilled worker in the art upon reading this specification, is accomplished by that construction and arrangement of parts of which an exemplary embodiment shall now be described.
Reference is made to the accompanying drawings wherein:
FIGURE 1 is a palmar view of a human hand showing the brace applied thereto, the view illustrating the relationship of the tension zones, i.e., the areas of lesser and greater elasticity, of the brace to the principal sets of ligaments being supported.
FIGURE 2 is an ulnar view of the hand showing the relationship of the brace to the various sets of ligaments.
FIGURE 3 is a radial view of the hand, again showing the relationship of the brace to the various sets of ligaments.
IGURE 4 is a plan view illustrating the contour of the two pieces of elastic material from which the brace is formed, the view also showing the relationship of the heavy and light tension zones, i.e., the areas of lesser and greater elasticity respectively, to the brace forming parts.
FIGURE 5 is a plan view of the elastic material from which the reinforcer pocket is formed.
FIGURE 6 is a side elevational view of the completed brace showing the contour which it assumes when the parts are joined together.
FIGURE 7 is a side elevational view of the reinforcer.
FIGURE 8 is a perspective view of the reinforcer.
Referring first to FIGURE 1 of the drawings, the wrist is indicated generally at 1, the wrist comprising a complicated collection of odd shaped bones whose function is to serve the hand. Because of its close proximity to the hand and thumb, the wrist is extremely important in that it permits the hand to move vertically, laterally, and circularly. This unusual mobility is due to the generous supply of joints in the wrist, as well as in the hand itself;
The joints, in turn, are surrounded by ligaments, which are strong fibrous sheaths acting to hold the joints in position and also serving to retain the synovial or lubricating fluid in each joint. While the ligamenture of the wrist and hand is extremely complicated, the basic ligaments are the carpal ligament 2, the transcarpal ligaments 3 which overlie and cover the intercarpal ligaments, and the transverse metacarpal ligaments 4. These ligaments cover the areas most frequently injured in strains and sprains of the wrist and hand, and consequently the in- 3 stant brace is specifically designed to provide maximum support in the areas of these ligaments.
The wrist brace, which is indicated generally at 5, is provided with alternate areas of heavy and light tension. Thus, an area of heavy tension 6 surrounds the transverse metacarpal ligaments 4, and similarly an area of heavy tension 7 surrounds the carpal ligament 2 and the transcarpal ligaments 3. An area of light tension 8 surrounds the palm area of the hand; and similarly, an area of light tension 9 lies inwardly of the carpal ligament 2 and surrounds the outermost end of the arm.
The correct healing position of the hand is seen in FIG- URES 2 and 3, wherein it will be seen that the longitudinal axis of the arm bones, as represented by the line 16, joins the axes of the fingers, as represented by the line 11, at an angle on the order of 32. At the same time, the thumb, indicated at 12, projects freely upwardly in general alignmentwith the radial bone of the arm.
The top of the brace is contoured so as to give maximum support to the transverse metacarpal ligament on the dorsal or rear side of the hand, as indicated at 13, yet on the volar or palm side of the hand, the upper edge of the brace is cut away, as at 14, so as to lie below the distal crease of the palm, which is indicated at 15. As can be seen in FlGURE-Z, a reinforcer or stay 16 lies on the palm side of the brace and is contoured to cause the hand to assume the desired healing position, as represented by the lines 1%) and 11.
' The brace is constructed from two pieces of elastic material each of which is woven so as to have alternate areas which exert different degrees of tensions. Such material is per se of known character and is sometimes identified as dual tension elastic webbing. In such material the rubber or elastic strands extend in one direction only, i.e., lengthwise of the tension Zones, so that the material is stretchable in the direction of the length of the strands but is essentially nonstretchable transversely thereof. The difference in tension or elasticity in the several areas may be determined by the number of rubber strands per lineal inch of webbing. For example, the light tension areas or zones of greater elasticity may be composed of ten such rubber strands per lineal inch of webbing, whereas the heavy tension areas or zones of lesser elasticity may be composed of 20 strands per lineal inch. The strands themselves preferably will be of the same size throughout so as to avoid detectable irregularities in the surfaces of the webbing.
Referring now to FIGURE 4, the two pieces of webbing, indicated at 17 and 18, are co rfigured or contoured so that, when they are joined together and tubed, they'will form an essentially sleeve defining body in which the tension zones or areas of lesser and greater elasticity extend circumferentially of the sleeve defining body which, in turn, has angularly related upper and lower parts.
The upper part 17 has a curved upper edge 1? which, when the piece is tubed, defines the outermost end of the brace. The central portion of the edge 19, which is recessed relative to the opposite ends, defines the cut away portion 14 of the brace which lies along the distal crease in the palm of the hand, whereas the higher end portions of the edge 19, when joined together, define the higher or dorsal side 13 of the brace. It will be noted that the piece 17 is so cut that the heavy tension area or area of lesser elasticity 6 lies immediately adjacent the edge 19, with the light tension area or area of greater elasticity 8 intermediate the top and bottom edges of the piece 17, and with a portion of the heavy tension area or area of lesser elasticity 7, designated 7a, lying adjacent the lowermost edge 20 which is also of curved configuration. The piece 17 has a continuous side edge 21 at one side thereof and an opposite side defined by the edge portions 22 and 23 which are interrupted by the thumb cutout 2d.
The lower piece 18 has a curved upper edge 25 which corresponds in curvature to the curved edge 20 of piece 17, but is of opposite hand, i.e., is inverted with respect 3. to the edge 21?, so that, when the edges and are joined together, and subsequently tubed, the edges 20 and 25 will define mating ellipses and the bodies to the two pieces will be angularly related with respect to each other. The piece 18 has an area of heavy tension or lesser elasticity 7b adjacent the edge 25', which, together with the area 7a of piece 17, makes up heavy tension area or area of lesser elasticity 7. It also has an area of light tension or area of greater elasticity 9 adjacent its lowermost edge 26, which edge may comprise an essentially straight line. The dotted lines 27 and 28, which extend through both of the pieces, indicate the location of the lines of stitching which secure the pocket 29, seen in FIG- URE 5, to the brace, the pocket 29 acting as a receiver for the reinforcer or stay 16. The piece 18 has continuous side edges 39 and 31 which, in essence, extend in prolongation of the edges 21 and 23, respectively, of upper piece 17.
In assembling the brace, all raw or cut edges of the pieces 17 and 18, are first painted wit-h latex to effectively seal such edges. This is usually done by first dipping the edges in water so that the water is drawn into the webbing by capillary action, whereupon the edges are dipped in latex, which strikes into the wetted webbing, thereby elfectively sealing the raw edges of the material.
The two pieces are then stitched together by means of a line of zig-zag stitching, which line of stitching is indicated at 32 in FIGURE 6. The two pieces thus form a blank for the brace, although it is of irregular surface configuration due to the fact the stitching together of the curved edges 20 and 25 distorts the pieces from planar condition.
it is also desirable to merrow the edges of the parts which define the thumb cutout 24 to further strengthen the brace and assure a snug fit about the wearers thumb. Thus a ribbon of elastic or rubber is folded about the edge of the cutout and whipstitched in place. This is known as merrowing, and is indicated at 33 in FIGURE 6. Such merrowing, is also applied to the edge 21 of the piece 17, which defines the opposite side of the thumb cutout; and if desired such mcrrowing may be applied to the edges 22 and 23 of pieces 17 and to the edge 31 of piece 18 which, in effect, constitutes a continuation of edge 23. The brace is not, however, tubed by means of such merrowing, but rather is closed by zig-zag stitching 34 applied over the merrowing. This is not done until.
after the pocket member 29 has been stitched to the pieces 17 and 18.
As will be seen in FIGURE 5, the pocket forming material 29 has a stitched cuif 35 at one end thereof, and its opposite side edges are also folded inwardly, as at 36 and 37, whereupon the pocket is placed over the pieces 17 and 18 in alignment with the dotted lines 27 and 28, and with the cuff 35 coinciding with the edge 26 of piece 18. The infolded side edges 26 and 37 are lowermost, i.e., juxtaposed to the pieces 17 and 18, whereupon the side edges only of the pocket are stitched to the brace. The cutf end of the pocket remains open, and the opposite end of the pocket, designated 38, will coincide with the edge 19 of piece 17 and will be closed subsequent to the tubing of the pieces 17 and 18.
The pieces 17 and 18 are next tubed by bringing the edge 21 into alignment with the edge portion 22 and 23, and the edge of piece 18 into alignment with the opposite edge 31, whereupon the pieces are stitched together, preferably by zig-zag stitching. As a final operation, the top edge 19 is merrowed to form a continuous strengthening band at the outermost end of the brace; and as an incident of such merrowing, the end edge 38 of the pocket 29 is also-closed, so that the pocket is only open at its lowermost end, namely, at the cuff edge 35.
Due to the configuration of the pieces 17 and 18, the brace will assume the condition illustrated in FIGURE 6, wherein it will be seen that the tubed pieces 17 and 18 have their longitudinal axes, as represented by the lines a and 11a, meeting in angular relation at an angle which corresponds to the desired 32 angular relation of the arm and hand bones when in the healing position.
The reinforcer or stay 16, which is shown in FIGURES 7 and 8, is configured to conform to the angularity just described, although it will be of generally curved configuration. Preferably, the reinforcer will be molded from a medium density plastic material, such as polyethylene, to allow some degree of flexibility. The reinforcer will thus have a built-in resilient action which the wearer may utilize to exercise the wrist and hand, thereby stimulating the blood flow and the subsequent carrying away of injured cells. The reinforcer will be somewhat bowed or curved in cross section, being higher in the center than along the opposite side edges, and will be reversely curved in the area of the palm, which area is indicated at 39. In the palm area the reinforcer may be said to have a four-way roll, that is, it will be more or less dish-shaped so that it will more closely conform to the cup of the palm. The reinforcer also has a curved portion 40 adapted to contact the heel of the hand; and the curvature will be such that the wearers hand will be deflected outwardly to the healing position.
The reinforcer as initially provided will be somewhat longer than required so that it may be trimmed at either or both ends to suit the needs of the individual user and cause it to more closely conform to the shape of the wearers hand. It should be evident that the reinforcer may be used for either the right or left hand, depending upon whether the brace is used right side out or inside out. That is, in the embodiment illustrated, which is for right hand use, the pocket 29 lies on the outside of the brace. However, if the brace is to be used on the left hand, it is simply turned inside out and the reinforcer thereafter inserted into the pocket, which now lies on the inside of the brace. In either instance, the reinforcer will be inserted into the pocket from the open cuff end 35. In order to prevent the reinforcer from slipping from the pocket, it is preferred to provide bar tacks on each side of the pocket at its open end, one such bar tack being indicated at 41 in FIGURE 6.
As should now be apparent, the instant invention provides a wrist brace which fully covers and supports the entire area of the wrist, with maximum support afforded those ligaments which are the most susceptible to strains and sprains. The merrowing along the top edge 19 of the brace together with that surrounding the thumb opening 24 provides positive positioning of the brace and prevents it from slipping. Since the brace is composed of one-way stretch material which extends circumferentially around the wrist and hand, the brace is essentially free from longitudinal stretching which would permit the wrist to move. The brace can be used with or Without the reinforcer, depending upon the degree of immobility which is desired; and yet irrespective of whether or not the reinforcer is employed, the curvature of the brace naturally tends to hold the wrist in the proper healing position.
The degree of tension applied to the wearers hand in the light and heavy tension zones or areas of greater and lesser elasticity, respectively, does not constitute a limitation on the invention, although in an exemplary embodiment the heavy tension areas or areas of lesser elasticity will exert a tension on the order of 2 pounds per square' inch, such tension being read with the material extended at a 25% stretch (a 10 inch piece of material stretched to 12 /2 inches) whereas the tension in the light tension areas or areas of greater elasticity will be on the order of 1 /2 pounds per square inch. Consequently, as employed herein, the terms heavy and light tension or areas of lesser and greater elasticity, respectively, are intended to denote an elastic brace wherein adjoining areas of the elastic material produce a significant difference in tension sufiicient to apply additional support to the portions of the wrist and hand surrounded by the heavy tension areas as compared to the support provided by the light tension areas. Preferably, the brace will be provided in a plurality of sizes, such as small, medium and large, so as to accommodate all sizes of hands.
Modifications may be made in the invention without departing from its spirit and purpose. For example, instead of a separately applied pocket, the pocket could be integrally incorporated in the pieces 17 and 18 which would be lengthened sufliciently to overlap each other. Similarly, instead of a die cut thumb opening, such as the opening 24, the piece 17 could be formed without such cutout and the thumb opening severed therefrom subsequent to the fabrication of the brace, with the severed opening merrowed following its formation.
Other modifications will undoubtedly occur to the skilled Worker in the art upon reading these specifications, and the invention is not intended to be limited other than in the manner set forth in the claims which follow.
The embodiments of the invention in which an exclusive property or privilege is claimed are defined as follows:
1. A wrist brace comprising a sleeve :defining elastic body having a thumb opening therein for positioning said body on the wearers wrist and hand, said elastic body having areas of lesser and greater elasticity extending circumferentially thereof, a first area of lesser elasticity at the outermost end of said brace positioned to surround and support the transverse metacarpal ligaments of the wearers hand, and a second area of lesser elasticity spaced inwardly from said first area and positioned to surround and support the carpal and transcarpal ligaments and the underlying intercarpal ligaments, the circumferential area of said sleeve defining body intermediate said areas of lesser elasticity comprising an area of greater elasticity.
2. The wrist brace claimed in claim 1 wherein said second area of lesser elasticity is spaced outwardly from the innermost end of said brace, and wherein the innermost end of said brace comprises a second area of greater elasticity adapted to surround the wearers forearm immediately inwardly of the carpal ligament.
3. The wrist brace claimed in claim 2 including a pocket in the palm side of said brace extending lengthwise thereof, and an essentially stiff yet resilient reinforcer in said pocket, said reinforcer being curved so as to displace the axes of the wearers fingers outwardly with respect to the axes of the arm bones at an angle on the order of 32, whereby to maintain the hand and wrist in healing position.
4. A wrist brace comprising a sleeve defining elastic body having angularly related inner and outer parts, a thumb hole in said outer part, said parts each having areas of lesser and greater elasticity extending circumferentially thereof, said outer part having a first area of lesser elasticity at its free end, said thumbhole serving to position said brace with said last named area of lesser elasticity surrounding and supporting the transverse metacarpal ligaments of the wearers hand, said sleeve defining body having a second area of lesser elasticity spaced inwardly from said first area and positioned to surround and support the carpal and transcarpal ligaments and the underlying intercarpal ligaments, there being an area of greater elasticity intermediate said areas of lesser elasticity.
5. The wrist brace claimed in claim 4 wherein the inner part of said sleeve defining body has an area of greater elasticity at its innermost end positioned to surround the wearers forearm immediately inwardly of the carpal ligament.
6. The wrist brace claimed in claim 5 wherein said second area of lesser elasticity is formed in part in the outer part of the elastic body and in part in the inner part thereof.
7. The wrist brace claimed in claim 6 wherein the inner and outer parts of said elastic body are angularly disposed with respect to each other so as to maintain the hand in a healing position in which the longitudinal axes or the fingers are displaced outwardly at an angle on the order of 32 with respect to the longitudinal axis of the forearm.
8, The wrist brace claimed in claim 7 including a pocket extending lengthwise along the palm side of said brace, and a resilient reinforcer received in said pocket, said reinforcer being curved intermediate its ends so as to conform to the angular relationship of said inner and outer parts.
9. The wrist brace claimed in claim 8 wherein said reinforcer is formed from polyethylene, and wherein the outermost end of said reinforcer, is of dish-shaped configuration so as to seat in the palm of the wearers hand.
10. The WIiSt brace claimed in claim 9 wherein the outermost edge of said brace is merrowed, and wherein merrowing extends around the thumb opening therein.
11. In a Wrist brace comprising a sleeve defining elastic body, a thumb opening for positioning said body on the Wearers wrist and hand, said brace being formed from one-way stretch elastic material having alternate areas of lesser and greater elasticity, said areas of lesser and greater elasticity being so oriented with respect to said thumb opening that a first area of lesser elasticity will surround and support the transverse metacarpal ligaments, with a second area of lesser elasticity surrounding and supporting the carpal and transcarpal ligaments and the underlying intercarpal ligaments.
12. The wrist brace claimed in claim 11 wherein said sleeve defining elastic body is composed of inner and outer parts angularly disposed with respect to each other.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 482,647 9/1892 Obear 2-159 1,414,012 4/1922 Flint 273-189 1,469,315 10/1923 Hansard 2-161 1,498,680 6/1924 Clement et a] l2877 1,790,381 1/1931 Keller 128--77 2,206,404 7/1940 Jones 2--165 2,327,836 8/1943 Willard 2-161 3,000,378 9/1961 Zieman 128165 FOREIGN PATENTS 306,223 3/ 1933 Italy.
RICHARD A. GAUDET, Primary Examiner.
I. W. HINEY, Assistant Examiner.