US 3424151 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
J n 28, 969v R. E. ER|SON 3,424,1
INFLATABLE SPLINT Filed Jan. 5, 1966 Sheet of 5 Jan. 28, 1969 E cs o 3,424,151
. INFLATABLE SPLINT Fi led Jan. 3. 1966 Jan. 28, 1969 R. E. ERICSON INFLATABLE SPLINT 3 Q of 5 Sheet Filed Jan. 5, 1966 E a May WA 4 Mk .TA i
United States Patent 3,424,151 INFLATABLE SPLINT Richard E. Ericson, Harrington, 11]., assignor to The Kendall Company, Boston, Mass, a corporation of Massachusetts Filed Jan. 3, 1966, Ser. No. 518,156 US. Cl. 12887 Int. Cl. A61f /04 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE This invention relates to inflatable splints and more particularly deals with the provision of splints incorporating improved features in operation while being of simple construction adapted to automated quantity production and therefore meeting cost requirements for a one-patient use disposable splint.
The prime purpose of applying a splint to animal extremities, in the case of bone fracture, is to secure immobilization of the extremity to prevent further damage, to control hemorrhage, to prevent edema and to alleviate pain arising from movement of the affected parts.
The primary object of the invention therefore is to provide a splint which when inflated about an injured animal extremity, such as a leg or arm, will better resist transverse float of the enclosed extremity such as is encountered with previous inflatable splints and to do so without undue complication in structure.
A further object of the invention is to provide an inflatable splint structure which may be manufactured with few steps and hence is adapted for automated production, whereby the cost to the user will be within a range inducing single-patient disposable use.
To accomplish these and other objectives, splints of this invention are made from suitably air impervious, flexible film material, using as initial stock, preferably, a continuous length of a collapsed tube of flexible film such for example as ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer film. Other suitable film examples include such films as laminated polyethylene-nylon-polyethylene film, laminated polyethylene-ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer-polyethylene and low density polyethylene. The walls of the collapsed tube are suitably heat sealed to one another in certain areas as will hereinafter be described, oftentimes simultaneously with severance of each individual splint blank from the source of supply of the continuous tube length, followed, in some cases, by a prefabrication into permanent hollow sleeve configuration and, in other cases, by attachment, at opposite ends of the severed tube, of suitable cooperating closures for joining the ends of the tube detachably to form a hollow sleeve at the time of application of the splint to an injured extremity.
These and other features of the invention will be more fully understood when taken in connection with the following description of typical embodiments of the invention and their manner of manufacture as shown in the accompanying drawings wherein FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a splint of the invention inflated about a human arm;
FIG. 1a is a perspective view (reduced in size) of the uninflated splint of FIG. 1 before application;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view, broken away to indicate extent,'of the splint shown in FIG. la in an early stage of manufacture;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view, broken away to indicate extent, of a splint in a stage of manufacture succeeding that shown in FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-sectional view taken along the line 44 of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary cross sectional view of the splint at a manufacturing stage subsequent to that shown in FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary cross sectional view taken along the line 66 of FIG. 1 with inflation tube inserted;
FIGS. 7, 8 and 9 are cross sectional views of the splint shown in FIG. 1:: at various stages of inflation, omitting the enclosed extremity;
FIG. 10 is a view similar to that shown in FIG. 2 of a modified form of the invention;
FIG. 11 is a similar view of a still further modified form of the invention;
FIG. 12 is a cross-sectional view of the device of FIG. 10 when folded and sealed as shown in FIG. 5 and then inflated about an extremity;
FIG. 13 is a similar view to that shown in FIG. 12, of the device of FIG. 11, when so folded, sealed and inflated;
FIG. 14 is an enlarged cross-sectional view taken along the line 1414 of FIG. 11;
FIG. 15 is an enlarged detail view of a modified mode of closing the splint into hollow sleeve form;
FIG. 16 is an enlarged detail view of a further modified mode for forming such closure;
FIG. 17 is an enlarged view of a still different form of closure;
FIGS. 18 and 19 are diagrammatic illustrations of two succeeding steps utilized in the manufacture of the splint of FIG. 1;
FIG. 20 is a diagrammatic view of a step utilized in the manufacture of the splint of FIG. 10*; and
FIG. 21 is a diagrammatic view of certain steps utilized in the manufacture of a splint incorporating the joining methods of either FIGS. 15, 16 or 17.
The splint of FIG. 1 is made from a one-piececollapsed tube 20 of thin, flexible substantially air impermeable film. The opposed walls 22 and 24 of the tube 20 are internally sealed together as by an externally-induced heat seal along spaced areas 26 and 28, parallel to the open end edges of the tube 20, and extending transversely across the tube a distance less than the width of the tube leaving restricted air passageways between the ends of the areas 26 and 28 and the side folds of the tube 20-.
The length of tube shown in FIG. 2 is then folded medially, as shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, to bring the opposed open ends of the tube into juxtaposed overlying and underlying relation and all four of the layers of film material after insertion of the valve are then heat sealed together as shown in FIG. 5 to form a hollow sleeve as shown in FIG. 1a having double thickness walls substantially coextensive in area defining therebetween an inflatable chamber 30, as shown in FIG. 7.
During the operation of heat sealing the four layers of film together, as shown in FIG. 5 to form a longitudinal fin seal 32, a suitable valve 40 for admitting inflating medium into the chamber 30 is inserted into the middle of one end of the tube 20. An example of such a valve is shown in FIG. 6. It includes a flexible small tube 42 made preferably of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer or similar material which has an internal flutter valve 43. A
rigid mouthpiece 46 is inserted into the small tube 42 during inflation. The mouthpiece 46 may be removed but even during inflation back pressure collapses the flutter portion of the valve 43 to retain an inflating medium such as air in the chamber 30 after it has been admitted.
Because of the internally sealed areas 26 and 28, the inflatable chamber 30 is divided into three longitudinally extending compartments 30a, 30b and 300 which communicate with each other at each end of the sleeve around the ends of the internally sealed areas 26 and 28 so that by admitting air or other fluid inflating medium into only one side of the collapsed tube, the air will flow annularly around the tube to inflate all three compartments. The resulting configuration is shown in FIG. 8 at a point of partial inflation, the inflating medium moving the inner layer of film 24 segmentallyaxially toward the center of the sleeve and upon further inflation substantially closing the bore of the sleeve, as shown in FIG. 9, in the absence of an interposed extremity.
Also, as shown in FIG. 9, the outer wall of the hollow sleeve 24 takes on, with full inflation, a triangular shape with the outer wall being flexed angularly along the internally sealed areas 26 and 28, as well as at the top heat seal seam. These straight line angular flexings of the outer wall 24 aid in stiffening the structure.
FIG. 10 shows a tube of ethylene vinyl acetate copolymer film 20 having, instead of the two internally sealed areas 26 and 28 as in FIGS. 1 and 2, three sealing areas, again leaving restricted passageways near the side folds of the tube 20. When this blank is assembled end-to-end utilizing the heat sealing seam of FIG. 5, the resulting hollow sleeve will have four compartments 30d, 30e, 301, 30g shown in FIG. 12 compressing an enclosed extremity.
In FIG. 13, instead of having three sealed areas 50, 52 and 53 as shown in FIG. 10, only one sealed area 55 is present, with the result that when the blank is formed into a hollow endless sleeve it will have a transverse crosssection as shown in FIG. 13 about an included extremity with only two compartments 30h and 30 FIG. 14 illustrates the restricted passageways 60, which are present in all forms of the invention shown in the drawings, around the ends of the internally sealed areas.
FIGS. 15, 16 and 17 illustrate in enlarged detail alternative manners for joining and holding the splint in hollow sleeve configuration.
FIG. 15, illustrates an embodiment wherein the tube 20, instead of being formed of single thickness polyethylene film comprises a laminate of polyethylene film united throughout its surface area to a nylon or other film which has less permeability than the polyethylene. Because nylon and some other films which have desirable characteristics from the standpoint of air impermeability are not readily heat scalable to themselves, the open ends of the tube are provided with heat sealable plastic film extensions. Thus in FIG. if the outer surface of the tube is formed of difficultly beat-"scalable material 62 and the inner surface of a readily heat-scalable material 64, the open ends of the tube are sealed in airtight relation by sandwiching extensions 66 and 68 into the respective ends of the tube and heat sealing. Thereafter, or simultaneously, the extensions 66 and 68 may be heat sealed to each other in overlapping face-to-face relation to form a flat overlap, instead of a fin, longitudinal seal down the side of the hollow sleeve. Obviously, a single connecting film might be used in place of extensions 66 and 68 with the tube end in adjacent to substantial abutting relationship. It is obvious that a turned back cuff might be utilized on one or both ends so that sealable surfaces may be in juxtaposed relationship for sealing.
In FIG. 16, instead of sealing the opposite ends of the tube in face-to-face relation, they may be provided respectively with attached cooperating elements 70, 72 of a separable textile fastener, one on one side of the tube 20 and the other on the other side of the tube 20 so that when the tube ends are brought into overlapping relation the fastener elements engage one another in locking relationship to form the longitudinal seam. Simultaneously with the attachment of the separable fastener elements, or prior thereto, or afterwards, the two layers of the walls of the tube may be sealed in airtight relation to close the open ends of the tube.
In FIG. 17, instead of using a textile separable fastener as shown in FIG. 16, each end of the tube is provided with a rigid or semirigid plastic hook-like element 74, the hooks facing opposite directions at the respective ends of the tube. When the hollow sleeve is wrapped around an extremity the hooked elements which may run either the entire length of the ends of the tube or may be a series of individual spaced narrow width hooks can be detachably hooked together to hold the splint about the extremity.
FIG. 18 illustrates diagramatically a supply roll of tube film with its leading end being fed between two platens 82 and 84 which are provided with opposed heat sealing dies 85 and 86 of less length than the width of the collapsed tube 80, and with a cutter 88. Movement of the platens together when the dies are heated can simultaneously sever a proper length of the tube from the supply source and seal the walls of the tube together in the areas 26 and 28 as shown in FIG. 2.
FIG. 19 illustrates a succeeding step wherein the tube has been folded to bring its open ends into juxtaposed relation between two heat sealing members 90 and 91 which may be readily modified to permit insertion of the valve 40 (not shown in FIG. 19), which may be held against sealing by inserting a non-scalable insert to maintain an open channel through the valve. After the operation illustrated by FIG. 19, the ends will be sealed as shown in FIG. 5 to form the hollow sleeve.
FIG. 20 is a diagrammatic view showing an alternative manner of operation wherein in addition to the intermediate short length dies 85 and 86, the platens are supplied with longer dies 92 and 94 at the ends, which upon closure of the platens act to simultaneously seal the open end edges of the tube, the cutter 88 also being present to sever the length from the supply source roll.
Instead of using a tube as a source of supply, these stations may be preceded by a station which seals two separate pieces of film together along the longitudinal edges or such sealing can be done simultaneously with the operations shown in FIGS. 18 and 20.
FIG. 21 illustrates how with the use of suitable platens 95 and dies 96 closure means such as extensions 66, 68 of FIG. 15, or separate fasteners 70, 72 or 74 of FIGS. 16 and 17, may be attached to both open ends of the tube 20 simultaneously with the open end tube sealing operation.
What is claimed is:
1. An inflatable splint comprising a collapsed one-piece tube of thin, flexible, substantially air impermeable film, the opposite walls of said tube being sealed together in airtight relation along their marginal end portions to form between the walls of said collapsed tube an internal inflatable chamber and means holding said sealed tube ends in adjacent relationship forming a hollow sleeve having double thickness walls formed by layers of said film joined by integral folds around the ends of said sleeve.
2. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 1 wherein the holding means includes a permanent airtight heat seal between adjacent faces of said film.
3. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 1 wherein the holding means is a separable fastener.
4. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 1 having valve means for admitting into and retaining in said chamber, an inflating medium.
5. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 1 wherein the walls of said tube are substantially coextensive in area.
6. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 1 wherein said opposite walls are additionally internally sealed together transversely of the collapsed tube intermediate said end portions across a portion only of the width of said collapsed tube to divide said chamber into at least two parallel compartments having restricted passageway communication with one another.
7. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 6 wherein said opposite walls are substantially co-extensive in area and said splint has, in addition, valve means for admitting into and retaining in said compartments, an inflating medium.
8. An inflatable splint as claimed in claim 6 wherein said opposite walls are internally sealed together across a portion only of the width of the collapsed tube in two areas extending parallel to said marginal and portions to divide said chamber into three parallel compartments, and wherein said holding means includes a permanent heat seal between adjacent faces of said film.
9. In a hollow sleeve inflatable splint having walls of double thickness formed of thin flexible substantially air impermeable layers of film secured together in air-tight relation around both ends of said sleeve and along a sleeve-forming closure extending longitudinally down one side of said sleeve, thereby forming an internal inflatable chamber between said walls, that improvement which comprises having inner and outer layers of said film of substantially coextensive area forming the walls of said chamber, said layers being additionally internally sealed together along at least one but not more than three areas extending longitudinally of said sleeve in parallel substantially equidistantly spaced relation to said closure but of less length than the length of said sleeve, to divide the internal inflatable chamber into at least two but not more than four parallel compartments whose inner walls between sai d areas, upon inflation of said compartments, expand inwardly into contact with each other, said compartments having restricted passageway communication with one another.
10. The improvement claimed in claim 9, wherein said areas are two in number dividing said chamber into three communicating compartments whose outer walls between said areas, upon inflation of said compartments, are angularly flexed at said areas to impart a generally triangular stiflening outside cross-sectional contour to said sleeve.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,823,668 2/1958 Van Court et al. 12887 2,834,340 5/1958 Walter 12884 3,153,413 10/1964 Gottfried 128-165 3,164,151 1/1965 Nicoll 128-87 XR LAWRENCE W. TRAPP, Primary Examiner.