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Publication numberUS3421529 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 14, 1969
Filing dateMar 8, 1967
Priority dateMar 8, 1967
Publication numberUS 3421529 A, US 3421529A, US-A-3421529, US3421529 A, US3421529A
InventorsVestal Richard A
Original AssigneeVestal Richard A
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Paraplegic aid
US 3421529 A
Abstract  available in
Images(1)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

Jan. 14, 1969 vgs 3,421,529

PARAPLEGIG AID Filed March 8, 1967 INVENTOR. I "ii RICHARD A. VESTAL 3,421,529 PARAPLEGIC AID Richard A. Vestal, P.O. Box 57, North Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659 Filed Mar. 8, 1967, Ser. No. 621,685 US. Cl. 135-45 Claims Int. Cl. A6111 3/04; Afilh 3/06 ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE An apparatus for assisting disabled persons in moving from one place to another over even and irregular surfaces and primarily for assisting paraplegics who stiffer from the permanent loss of use of their legs to ascend and descendstairs and move along all surfaces by means of a three-sided device having adjustable frontwardly and rearwardly extending feet to stabilize the apparatus during use.

Background and summary of the invention It is well known that paraplegics and other individuals suffering from the loss or impairment of their legs find it difficult if not totally impossible to ascend and descend stairs. Those people who are able to ascend or descend stairs with the aid of crutches or other conventional devices invariably feel insecure because of the difficulty in bracing themselves firmly while moving between steps.

Conventional walkers and crutches are not suitable to assist a paraplegic in rising from a sitting to a standing position. A paraplegic does nct have any control over the muscles which control his knees or ankles and usually little or none over the hip muscles, thus, it is necessary for him to lock his ankles. knees and sometimes hips i1 a fixed position, usually by means of artificial braces. Since his knees in particular must be lccked'straight by braces or otherwise before he can stand at all, this obviously means that it must be done while he is still in a sitting or lying position and thus his knees are locked straight when he rises from a chair. If a paraplegic desires to rise forward and directly to his feet, he must both push down and pull backward on a walker, and if he pulls backward on any conventional walker, he merely pulls it into his lap.

Since a paraplegic has no control over the lower portion of his body, it is absolutely essential that he kee s his hips forward at all times. The hips will go only slightly forward and no more. but they will go all the way to the fioor in a backward direction. Once any backward motion begins, the body of a paraplegic cannot stop it since his knees are locked straight and he cannot move either foot from the floor or ground. Once any backward motion of the hips begins, a paraplegic is helpless, and the resulting condition is that of a jackknife, a condition likely to cause injury and an uish because of the fall experienced.

Conventional walkers are built for the user to take normal steps, i.e., place one foot up one step and then the other foot. A paraplegic cannot move either foot and hence. conventional walkers fail as assisting devices i1 permitting a paraplegic to ascend or descend steps. Additionally, in climbing steps. known walkers require the user to walk forward up the steps, but a paraplegic can only climb steps by backing up them. These walkers normally use a gripping level much higher than the users waist. thus requiringthe pushing effort by the paraplegic to be much more strenuous and much more dangerous. Conventional walkers usually contain four legs. two of which can be adjusted to any one position. Since a para legic must depend entirely upon the walker, this would be extremely dangerous where the steps are not perfectly even since the walker will wobble unless all four legs rest firmly upon the supporting surface. Additionally, a Walker with four legs presupposes that the user can stand up alone while the walker is initially being adjusted for' the first step, but unfortunately a paraplegic cannot stand even an'instant without support. Finally, conventional walkers rest on only two steps at a time, the front two legs usually being positioned on the upper step, and the rear legs placed on the initial step for support. The complete disability of a paraplegic makes these walkers dangerous and ineffective.

With the deficiencies of conventional walkers and the I total disability of a paraplegic in mind, the present invention is presented as a means whereby a paraplegic, i.e., one who cannot walk at all, can maneuver from place to place, and,- consequently, a primary objective of the present invention is to provide such a walker for this group of individuals who are incapable of.using conventional walkers.

Another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus suitable to accommodate a paraplegic desiring to rise from a sitting or reclining position that will, because of rearwardly extending skids or feet, not be toppled into the users'lap when pulled.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for allowing a paraplegic to ascend or descend steps by means of slidably adjustable forwardly and rearwardly extending feet or skids to stabilize the apparatus while in use.

Yet still a further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for assisting paraplegics which can be used to walk through grass or on soft ground because of the attachment of rearwardly and forwardly adjustable feet which can adapt to irregular terrain and will not mire or become imbedded in soft or slushy surfaces.

Yet still another object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for assisting paraplegics which will minimize the effort required by the user to lift and lower himself because of a conveniently positioned gripping level noticeably higher than the user's waist.

A further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for assisting paraplegics which will not wobble as is the case with conventional walkers having four leg and no horizontally disposed support.

Yet still a further object of the present invention is to provide an apparatus for assisting paraplegics which, when used in ascending or descending steps, rests on three step: at a time instead of the conventional two steps utilized by known walkers and related devices.

Another object of the present invention is to provide gripping bars which always remain substantially parallel to the supporting surface.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an aid for assisting paraplegics which can be adjusted by the user for angularly or irregularly positioned steps.

Another object of the present invention is to provide I an aid for paraplegics which can be centrally divided, taken apart and reassembled to enable a user to travel in an automobile and carry the apparatus therein but which can be assembled expeditiously upon leaving the car.

These and other objects and-features of this invention will be best understood by reference to the following description of an embodiment of the invention taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like characters designate like parts.

Figure description FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an apparatus for assisting paraplegics positioned on a substantially level surface from a sitting to an erect position by pulling upwardly upon a gripping means, the apparatus being stabilized during this procedure by attached forwardly and rearwardly extending feet.

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of an apparatus for assisting paraplegics being used to ascend a flight of steps and illustrating the precise positioning of the frontwardly and rearwardly extending feet, the apparatus utilizing three steps of the stair flight during use.

FIG. 4 is an enlarged, perspective, fragmentary and separated view of the frameconnecting substantially horizontal bars which are connected and secured when the apparatus is in use.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an alternative embodiment of a single frame member of the apparatus for assisting paraplegics utilizing a squared construction and eccentric locking means for securing the rearwardly and forwardly extending feet in a selected position.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, side elevational, and fragmentary view of the eccentric securing means for holding the slidably adjustable extending feet to the frame member in the move or adjusting position.

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary, side elevational and enlarged view of the eccentric securing means of the alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 5 in the lock or secured position.

Referring now to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, the apparatus generally designated 10 is comprised of a pair of spaced-apart frame members generally shown as 12, each of these members having a lower strut or surface engaging portion 14 lying substantially contiguous along its length with the floor or supporting surface, an upper horizontally disposed gripping portion 16 and upstanding vertical members 18 and 20 connecting the upper and lower portions. Each gripping portion 16 has an extending front member 17 which is substantially horizontally disposed and which is bent at approximately a 90 degree angle to extend laterally toward a junction 22 at its terminal end 24. The junction 22 formed by the bars 17 has conventional releasably securing means, generally shown as 26, to join the bars rigidly and thus form a three-sided framework with frame members 12.

The front vertical members 20 forming a part of the frame members 12 provides securing means for supporting and adjustably positioning a pair of front feet 28 thereto, each of these front feet having a leg portion 30 and a substantially horizontal foot portion 32, the feet being adapted to engage a supporting surface in cooperation with the lower surface engaging portions 14 of frame members 12 and sustain the apparatus in a substantially erect position on any surface regardless of the elevation. The feet 28 also assist in stabilizing the apparatus by providing an opposition to pivotal movement about the lower surface engaging portion 34 of front vertical member 20.

Similarly carried vertically adjustable rear feet generally designated 36, each having leg portions 38 and feet portions 40 serve to assist in sustaining the apparatus in a substantially erect position on the same irregular surfaces while also cooperating with the lower surface engaging portion 14 to prevent pivotal movement of the apparatus about the lower surface engaging end 42 of rear vertical members 18.

The front and rear feet 28 and 36 are slidably positioned adjacent the front and rear vertical members 20 and 18 by any convenient adjusting means such as generally designated 14 comprising a plurality of frame receiving sleeves 46 adapted to secure the front and rear feet 28 and 36 in selected positions with respect to the front and rear vertical members 20 and 18. A thumbscrew 48 is easily adjusted and operated by the paraplegic user and is conveniently positioned along the uppermost sleeve so that adjustments can be made with a minimum of effort.

The substantially horizontally positioned bars 17 extending from the upper gripping portion 16 of frame bars each with the other. Additionally, a thumbscrew or.

lever screw 54 may be utilized to secure rigidly the two bars 17 each with the other and provide a substantially rigid three-sided framework together with frame members 12.

It will be appreciated that any number of variations may be used in providing the adjustability necessary for the front and rear feet 28 and 36 in their cooperation with front and rear vertical members 20 and 18. Among those, the alternative embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5 is shown wherein square tubular members are provided. The front vertical member 56 is encapsulated by the front foot 58, the tube being adjustably slidable with respect to each other by this encapsulating construction. Additionally, an eccentric locking device generally designated 60 and more particularly illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7 is used for easy adjustability by a paraplegic. The locking device is comprised of a handle portion 62 and an eccentric body portion 64 which, when in the release or adjustable position, is as shown in FIG. 6, but when in the locked or securing position is best illustrated in FIG. 7 where the camming surface 66 is forcibly urged against the encapsulating front vertical member 56 to secure the integrally connected front foot 58 thereto in a selected position. The rear feet members are similarly constructed and are likewise easily adjustable by the same eccentric locking means as hereinabove described. .J

The feet 28 and 36 are provided with skid resisting means 68 which, when used on the preferred embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, usually consist of rubberized or abraded material wrapped about the substantially horizontal foot portion 32. Similarly, a fiat anti-skid surface 70 may be provided when the alternative embodiment shown in FIG. 5 is contemplated.

The advantages offered by the present invention in assisting a paraplegic to rise from a sitting or even reclined position is best illustrated in FIG. 2 where the apparatus is shown positioned on a level surface and a user is commencing the movement necessary to rise to an erect position. The rearward and downward pull created by the user urging himself upward by the gripping portion is offset by the rearwardly extending substantially horizontal foot portions 40 which tend to prevent pivotal movement about the lower end 42 of rear vertical members 18. Conventional walkers or devices having four surface engaging legs have a tendency to topple back wards into the users lap during this particular use and hence are for the most part ineffective in providing a stable apparatus for allowing the paraplegic to raise himself to a mobile position.

Similarly, it is obvious that once the user is in the erect position, there is a tendency, particularly when the user has absolutely no use of his legs, to lean forward in the apparatus and hence create pivotal movement about the lower ends 34 of front vertical members 20. The substantially horizontal foot portion 32 effectively resists this movement.

When using the present apparatus to ascend or descend steps, the user will commence his ascent by mounting the steps by backing as best shown in FIG. 3. To commence his ascent he then adjusts the rear feet 36 to rest securely along the step to be mounted and then swings himself upward to that step by use of his arms. Once positioned thereon, his rigid leg braces may be used in a pole-vaulting manner to lift the apparatus 10 upward and in a position to ascend the next step. Once this is done, the front feet 28 may be lowered to snugly engage the lower step 72 already passed so that the user then has support on the lowermost step 72 and on the step to be ascended 74 as well as the step presently occupied 76, a technique which is not utilized by any of the presently known walking aids and which forms a stabilized and secure framework for a user.

The operation is continued until the entire flight of steps has been mounted at which time the front and rear feet 28 and 36 may be adjusted for movement across a substantially level surface as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.

It is obvious that the same technique can be used to allow a paraplegic to move across laterally uneven terrain since the feet on one side of the apparatus may be lowered to a greater extent than the feet on the other so that the apparatus is held in a substantially erect position during movement. Additionally, the contact of foot portions 32 and 40 with the supporting surface throughout their lateral length insures that the device will not mire or sink in soft or slushy terrain.

The apparatus 10 is particularly constructed so that it divides at junction 22 and can thus be taken apart and reassembled easily. Hence, a paraplegic can use the walker to travel in an automobile, sit down and then divide the walker and place each section in the car. On leaving the car, he can assemble the walker outside the car but while sitting on the edge of the seat and then rise and travel on foot. The fact that the walker divides so easily also permits expeditious storage in other situations.

Thus there has been described an apparatus for assisting paraplegics in moving from place to place over even and irregular surfaces in connection with specific and suggested alternative apparatus, and is to be clearly understood that this description is made only by way of example and not as in limitation to the scope of my invention. Obviously, many modifications and variations may be made in the construction and arrangement of the frame members, the front and rear feet and the horizontally connecting member as Well as other phases of the present inventive concept in light of the above teachings without departing from the real spirit and purpose of the invention. Such modifications as Well as the use of mechanical equivalents to those herein illustrated and described are reasonably included and contemplated.

I claim:

1. An apparatus for assisting paraplegics in moving from place to place over even and irregular surfaces comprising: a pair of spaced-apart frame members, each of said members having a lower surface engaging portion; an upper gripping portion and at least one upstanding vertical member connecting said upper and lower portions; means securing the frames in a substantially parallel side-by-side relationship; and horizontally-extending, surface-engaging means retained by at least one of said frame members.

2. An apparatus as claimed in claim 1, said horizontally-extending, surface-engaging means adjustably secured to said frame members engaging the surface adjacent said lower surface engaging portions and sustaining the apparatus in a substantially erect position.

3. An apparatus as claimed in claim 2, said upstanding vertical members including a from vertical member and a rear vertical member connecting said upper and lower portions.

4. An apparatus as claimed in claim 3, said horizontally-extending, surface engaging means including vertically adjustable front feet slidably engaging at least one of said front vertical members, each of said front feet having a leg portion proximate said front vertical member and adjustable therewith and a substantially horizontal foot portion for stabilizing the apparatus and resisting pivotal movement of the apparatus about said front vertical member.

5. An apparatus as claimed in claim 4, said horizontally-extending, surface engaging means further including vertically adjustable rear feet slidably engaging at least one of said rear vertical members, each of said feet having a leg portion proximate said rear vertical member and adjustable therewith and a substantially rearwardly extending foot portion for stabilizing the apparatus and reisting pivotal movement of the apparatus about said rear vertical member.

6. An apparatus as claimed in claim 5, said parallel securing means including a substantially horizontal bar extending from each of said frame members connectible each with the other to form a three-sided framework with said frame members.

7. An apparatus as claimed in claim 6, said surface engaging means including means for securing said front feet in a selected position with respect to said front vertical member.

8. An apparatus as claimed in claim 7, said surface engaging means including means for securing said rear feet in a selected position with respect to said rear vertical member.

9. An apparatus as claimed in claim 8, said feet having skid resisting means carried thereby to resist slidable movement with respect to the carrying surfaces.

10. An apparatus as claimed in claim 9, said substantially horizontal connecting bar being separable to allow the disassembly of the apparatus for storage and shipment.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,708,473 5/1955 Gable et a1. -45 2,817,387 12/1957 Blake 13545 PETER M. CAUN, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4094330 *Jan 14, 1977Jun 13, 1978Jong Slosson BWalker
US4094331 *Feb 16, 1977Jun 13, 1978Peter RozsaDual purpose walking frame for handicapped persons
US4253287 *Jun 28, 1979Mar 3, 1981Overmoe Kenneth RStep walker
US4411283 *Dec 30, 1981Oct 25, 1983Lucarelli Frank JInvalid walker
US4474202 *May 17, 1982Oct 2, 1984Ralph BlechnerWalker device
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US8291924Jun 16, 2010Oct 23, 2012Songline Mobility, Inc.Multi-configuration walking apparatus
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US9107503Oct 31, 2012Aug 18, 2015Kevin Roger KlineSegmented adaptable mobility aid device for level and inclined walkaways and for stairs
US9554961Jun 15, 2016Jan 31, 2017Francisco JuarezFolding walker
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Classifications
U.S. Classification135/67
International ClassificationA61H3/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61H3/00, A61H2003/001
European ClassificationA61H3/00