US 3426750 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
1959 E. F. CLEMENTS' HYDROTHERAPEUTIC MASSAGE DEVICE Filed Sept. 25, 1966 fie?! Pm? 4 Z! 1 x I United States Patent 7 Claims The present invention relates generally to massage devices, and especially those of the fluid or hydrotherapeutic type.
Massage is of great benefit to persons suffering from a wide variety of ailments.
Injuries such as sprains and sore muscles are greatly benefited by massage and the application of heat; and it has long been recognized that a sense of general well being can be imparted as a result of the stimulation and improved circulation brought about by a general massage of the body. It is becoming increasingly recognized that chronic disorders, such as arthritis and rheumatism can be not only relieved on a short-term basis, but can actually be treated with some success and improved by continued and persistent massage.
Particularly under the latter conditions is it desired that the massage device be a simple one which can be operated by the person receiving the massage Without the need of any assistance from another person, and particularly without requiring trained or professional assistance. This makes it economically feasible for people with chronic problems to treat themselves daily or oftener over a long period of time without resorting to institutional or professional assistance.
It is also recognized that massage accompanied by heat applied to the area being massaged is particularly beneficial since the heat relaxes the muscles and stimulates the circulation, thus adding to the benefit derived by the user.
Thus, it becomes a general object of the present invention to devise a novel type of massage device that can be applied to all areas of the body and which can be used effectively over either a small area or a relatively larger area of the body.
It is a further object of the invention to devise a therapeutic massage device that is simple in construction and operation so that it can be used without any assistance or professional instruction or supervision, is versatile in its application, and affords maximum utility at low cost to the user.
These objects of the present invention are achieved in a hydrotherapeutic massage device constructed according to the present invention comprising a bell-shaped housing defining and partly enclosing an agitation chamber which is open at one side to the area on the body being massaged; means connecting the housing to a source of fluid, typically and preferably water, under pressure; a nozzle in the housing opposite the open side thereof to direct a jet of fluid at a substantial velocity towards the open side; and means around the rim of the housing engaging the body of the user but allowing limited escape of fluid from the housing, whereby the agitation chamber within the housing is maintained filled with fluid which is agitated by the incoming jet stream to set up a body of moving fluid in contact with the body of the user to massage the body. Typically, this housing is one which can be held in a hand of the user and moved manually to and held over any part of the body or moved slowly over a substantial area on the body for massage purposes.
How the above and other objects and advantages of the invention are attained will be more readily understood by reference to the following description and to the annexed drawing, in which:
FIGURE 1 is a side elevation of a hydrotherapeutic massage device constructed according to the present invention;
FIGURE 2 is an enlarged longitudinal median section through the device;
FIGURE 3 is a bottom plan of the device; and
FIGURE 4 is a longitudinal section through a modified form of the invention.
Referring now to the drawing, it will be seen that the massage device comprises a housing or cup indicated generally at 10 which is more or less conical or bellshaped in outline and defines an interior chamber 11 that is open at one side as indicated at 12 in FIGURE 2. Opposite the open side 12, the housing is provided with a suitable means for connection to a source of fluid under pressure. Typically, this constitutes a flexible tube or hose 14 which is connected to housing 10 by a suitable coupling 15, which may be of any design desired.
The fluid supply line 14 is normally attached in a suitable manner to the pipe supplying water to a bath tub, wash basin, or the like. It is obviously advantageous to attach line 14 in such a manner that it is supplied with both hot and cold water since in this way, the individual valves controlling the water supply can regulate not only the temperature of the water introduced in the housing 10 but also the rate of water flow.
Coupling 15 is connected to the housing at such a point that the incoming water passes through an open and unobstructed inlet passage 16 having a section 16a of reduced diameter in nozzle 17. The water issues therefrom in a jet of substantial velocity directed toward the open side 12 of the housing.
The ordinary domestic water supply is typically at a pressure of somewhere in the neighborhood of 40-60 p.s.i. by the time it reaches the massage device, although in some areas, pressures are higher and in others lower than this figure. For pressures in this range, it has been found especially advantageous to make the passage 16a about to in diameter. This size of passage gives an adequately large volume of flow at the pressures available and causes the water to issue in a jet at a substantial velocity, that is, at a relatively higher velocity than that in tube 14.
Nozzle 17 preferably terminates about an 1%" to an 1 /2 away from the end of the housing at opening 12 so that it is spaced from the body of the user by this distance. The opening is preferably about 2 /2" to 3" in diameter. The surface of the housing around opening 12 is non-planar as may be seen clearly in FIGURES 1 and 2 In the embodiment illustrated, this is achieved by providing two diametrically spaced recesses in the rim of opening 12, these recesses 18 being shallow, cutaway areas in the housing wall. These recesses have two purposes. In the first place, they serve as fiow equalizing means which allow water to flow outwardly from the agitation chamber inside the housing, as indicated by arrows 19, when the housing is held against the body, this outward flow being at a controlled rate depending upon the size of the openings 18. It is preferred that there be two such openings so that advantage may be taken of their location to bring the opening 12 over a portion of the body of small radius, such as the forearm. In this instance, the edge of the housing at the recesses 18 contacts the skin and the flow equalizing openings are actually at either side of the recesses 18.
In typical use, the patient sits or lies in a bath tub or other means holding a body of water so that the area to be massaged in fully immersed in water. Then the water flow and temperature are adjusted and the housing is pressed against the body of the user to bring opening 18 over the area to -be massaged. The contact between the housing and the body of the patient produces a restricted outward flow or water at openings 18 with the result that the water issuing a a steady, continuous jet from nozzle 17 fills the entire interior 11 of housing and is agitated therein by the jet issuing from nozzle 17, as indicated by arrows 20 in FIGURE 2. Hence, the chamber 11 is viewed as an agitation chamber which confines a body of fluid in contact with the body to be treated. The body of water within the agitation chamber cushions the direct impact of the nozzle on the patients body so that rather than subjecting the body to a concentrated stream of water issuing from the nozzle, the effect is to subject the body to a massaging action of generally uniform intensity over the entire area of opening 12.
Housing 10 is preferably moulded from rubber or one of the many plastics suitable for this purpose; and has some flexibility in order to adapt it to various parts of the human body. Though preferably circular in crosssection as shown in FIGURE 3, the invention is not so limited and other shapes may be used. However, it is preferred that the largest diameter of the housing be spaced from the opening 12 in order to obtain the most favorable shape for the interior agitation chamber 11.
When the unit is applied to a relatively flat area on the patients body, such as the upper thigh, the openings 18 allow the water to escape from the housing in opposite directions, but generally parallel to the body surface, and the turbulence in the water outside but adjacent the housing extends for an appreciable distance, perhaps a foot or so, in each direction from the housing. This turbulence in the body water outside of housing 10 also gives a gentle massage effect and extends the total area of treatment.
The high velocity of the water passing through nozzle 17 and the high velocity, comparatively speaking, of the water issuing laterally at the openings 18, create zones of relatively lower pressure with the result that the surrounding body of water in which the unit is submerged exerts a hydrostatic pressure against the housing which causes the massage cup to adhere more or less lightly to the body. At the same time, the cup does not resist movement in a lateral direction when in contact with the body so that the cup can be manually moved over a large area to extend the area of treatment beyond the perimeter of opening 12. This extension of the area of treatment is beneficial because it enlarges the area in which circulation is stimulated and the muscles are relaxed, as well as avoiding concentration of the massage effect on a very small area. The objective is obtained of achieving a gentle massaging action similar to the kneading action imparted by hand by a masseuse.
Any tendency of the housing to stick in place on the body of the user can be relieved by placing one or more small pressure equalizing openings 21 in the walls of the housing, preferably at a position between opening 12 and the lower Opening of jet 17. This prevents the development of a low pressure inside the housing and permits water to travel either into or out of the housing through these openings according to the direction of the pressure differential across the housing wall.
As shown in FIGURES 1 and 2, the sidewalls of the housing are preferably internally contoured in a manner to increase the turbulence of the water inside the housing since this turbulence or agitation within the housing increases the massage obtained. For this reason, the wall of the housing has an inwardly projecting annular baffle 22 below which the wall is relatively bulged or made convex outwardly in the zone immediately beneath the lower end of nozzle 17. As a result, the jet of water issuing from the nozzle 17 sets up a circular motion of the water when viewed in a vertical or axial plane, at each side of the jet. The motion of the water is in an axial direction assisted and directed by the baffle and the shape of the housing wall to move in a circular path indicated by arrows 20, thus producing an upward or reverse flow adjoining the walls and a downward flow centrally of the housing.
The total agitation effect within the housing can be improved also by adding a second bulge 24 in the zone above baffle 22 and surrounding nozzle 17; but circulation in the upper portion of the housing is more localized in nature so that it does not directly affect the massage action, but it does provide a zone of low friction for the primary internal circulation indicated at 20 and thus facilitates and increases the agitation in the chamber within housing 10 as initiated by the jet from nozzle 17.
FIGURE 4 illustrates a variational embodiment 10a of the invention in which the agitation and massaging action is obtained with an angular configuration to the wall of housing 12a below nozzle 17a, the upper agitation zone being reduced or omitted. Interior baflie 22a is provided by reducing the diameter of the housing above the point of maximum diameter. Other baflle designs may be used. Variations illustrated include a change in shape of the flow equalizing openings 18a and the rounded end 28 of the housing wall around opening 12a to minimize contact with the patients body.
The massage unit is typically and preferably used as an underwater massage unit; but it is possible to use air alone as the massage fluid. A convenient domestic source of air under pressure is a small portable air com pressor. Likewise, a mixture of air and water may be used, as the fluid, furnished by a pump outside the bath tub or the like holding the patient.
When required by local ordinance, a check valve or vacuum breaker, not shown, may be added at a suitable location; but such device does not change the principles involved.
From the foregoing description, it will be evident that various changes in the detailed structure and configuration of the housing of the massage unit may be made by persons skilled in the art without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention; and, accordingly, the foregoing description is considered to be illustrative of, rather than limitative upon, the invention as defined by the appended claims.
1. A therapeutic massage device comprising:
a generally bell-shaped housin defining and partly enclosing an agitation chamber open at one side to the area to be massaged;
means connecting the housing to a source of fluid under pressure;
nozzle means inside the chamber directing a continuous jet of fluid toward the open side of the housing;
and means at the rim of the housing to allow escape of fluid from the chamber when the housing is in, contact with the body of a patient, whereby the chamber is filled with fluid and agitated by the incoming jet to massage the area of a patients body exposed to said opening.
2. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 in which fluid inlet means including the nozzle means has an unobstructed fluid passage and discharges a continuous jet of fluid.
3. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 which includes bafl le means inside the housing directing axial fluid circulation within the housing.
4. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 in which the housing is circular in transverse cross-section and has its largest diameter spaced from the open side of the housing.
5. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 in which the housing wall is perforated.
6. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 in which the last mentioned means comprise a pair of diametrically spaced, shallow recesses in the housing References Cited around the open side thereof. UNITED STATES PATENTS 7. A therapeutic massage unit according to claim 1 in which the last mentioned means comprise a pair of fi fig a1. 1 2 8 6 6 X I diametrically spaced, shallow recesses in the housing 5 around the open side thereof, and which also includes FOREIGN PATENTS bafl'le means inside the housing directing the axial fluid 558,130 9/ 1952 ycirculation within the housing. L W TRAPP, Primary Examiner.