US 3548811 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [1113548311  Inventor Donald R. Wilson 1,838,094 12/ 193-1 Deyo 128/25 I 2018 Chl'lflilll SL, Stockton, Calif. 95204 2,045,814 6/1936 Werler 128/25X ] Appl. N0. 700,490 2,186,105 1/1940 11311.... 128/25UX  Filed Jill. 25, 1968 2,255,066 9/1941 Lamb 128/25  Patented DH!- 22, 1970 2,345,439 3/1944 Tompkins 128/25UX Primary Examiner- L. W. Trapp 54 use s'rmuurron AND EXERCISER Ammey-c'egg 6 Claims, 2 Drawing Figs.
 [LS- 128/55, 1 28/ 52 1 fl A6111 23/00 ABSTRACT: A small mechanical device adapted for remova- OISQII'CII 128/24, 25, ble attachment to the foot of a human being for controflably 50-52, 55 applying successive blows to the ball and/or heel of the foot, as a for orthopedic purposes. A housing is provided having a sur-  References cmd face adapted to engage the sole of the foot. Through the sur- UNITED STATES PATENTS face extends a pair of adjustably spaced pistons having means 1,833,103 11/1931 Anderson for alternate reciprocation within the housing.
LEG STIMULATOR AND'EXERCISER BACKGROUND or INVENTION In the field of orthopedics there are encountered many problems of bone growth and muscle strengthening. For'example, cerebral palsy commonly gives rise .to certain problems of the leg and foot. Three basic problems may be identified in connection with the leg and foot of cerebral palsy victims. One of these problems is the stopping of leg growth which results in the sufferer walking with a limp. A second problem is that of the underdeveloped heel which, in many cases, remains so small that it becomes difficult to maintain a shoe on the foot. A third problem is that of a tight heel cord which generally pulls the foot downward, so that the sufferer ends up walking on the toes of the foot. Further with regard to cerebral palsy sufierers, it is noted that there has been developed a relatively wide variety of special shoes, braces and the like to the end of assisting such sufierers to walk. These devices do not, however, attack the cause of the difiiculty, and, at most, provide only partial solutions of the problems. i
In a variety of other situations there are found underdeveloped muscles or bones in the foot or leg of people, in many cases resulting from inability of the person to properly exercise the foot and leg. Normal growth or recovery from injury usually requires the exercise of walking.'lnability of a person to walk for any reason usually results in leg and foot problems which arenot entirely overcome by existing devices. Thus, for example, continued confinement in bed of a patient suffering fromalmost any disease or injury normally results in a wasting away of certain leg muscles, oftentimes to the extent that the patient must learn to walk all over again. Furthermore, the healing of bone fractures or shattering is materially accelerated by the application of some forces of limited magnitude. The immobility of many patients suffering from injury or disease often precludes walking or standing, so.that such forces cannot be naturally applied.
SUMMARY OF INVENTION The present invention is directed to the controlled application of forces by means of blows successively applied to the bottom of a foot at the ball and/or heel thereof. There is provided hereby a device of simple structure which is adapted to stimulate and exercise leg muscles, as well as stimulating bone growth. By the controlled application of blows through the present invention, it is possible, for example, to strengthen the anterior tibial muscle of a child or youth suffering from cerebral palsy, so as to prevent the normally stronger gastroc nemius muscle from pulling the heel upward and deforming the foot. It is also to be appreciated that the present invention is equally applicable for use by any one desirous of building up the leg muscles, and it is in no way limited to utilization by those that are injured or otherwise incapacitated. In general, the invention comprises a leg stimulator and exerciser in the form of a small unit adapted to be physically attached to the underside of the foot, as by straps, or the like, extending over the top of the foot and'about the ankle. The unit in use is firmly anchored to the underside of thefoot and contains a small electric motor which may be turned on to actuate drive means reciprocating a pair of pistons in position to strike successive blow to the underside of the foot atthe ball and heel thereof. Control means are provided for disconnecting either of these pistons. The present invention is adapted also for removable attachment to some fixed object, such as the foot rails of a bed, and may incorporate means for adjustably tilting the unit so as to physically force thefoot into various positions for exercise.
DESCRIPTION OF FIGURES The present invention is illustrated as to a single preferred embodiment thereof in the accompanying drawing wherein:
FIG. 1 is a side elevational view of the unit of the present in- I vention in operable position with portions broken away as illustrated; and
FIG. 2 is a central sectional view through the unit of the present invention illustrating mechanical details of the drive and control means thereof.
DESCRIPT ION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Considering now the illustrated preferred embodiment of the present invention and referring to the drawing, it will be seen that the unit 11 is embodied as a generally rectangular box having a flat operative foot surface 12 with a heel rest 13 extending horizontally from the bottom of this vertical surface 12. The unit 11 is adapted to be placed on a flat horizontal surface, such as the mattress of a bed or the like, and is provided with adjustable and somewhat elastic straps 14 adapted to extend about a foot 16 of a patient for strapping the foot tightly against the flat surface 12 of the unit.
Provision is made for firmly securing the unit 11 to a stationary element such as the foot rails 17 of a bed; this may be accomplished by the provision of adjustable straps 18, as shown. Additionally, means are provided. for controllably tilting the unit 11 from the normal position illustrated in FIG. 1. These means may include a plate 21 'o'n'the back side of the unit and mounted thereto by a hinge 22 at the bottom edge of the unit, so that in the position illustrated in FIG. 1 this plate will rest against the vertical element, or footrail, 17. Means for tilting the unit may comprise a thumb screw 23, including a portion threaded into the housing of the unit 11 as shown and bearing on the adjacent side of the plate 21 with a knurled disc thereon extending into position for ready rotation, as by the thumb of the user, so that the housing and plate may be forced apart to pivot about the hinge 22 joining same. It will be seen that this provides for tilting the unit so as to swing the flat sur face 12 for pivoting the attached foot 16 relatively upward with respect to the leg. It is also to be noted that the adjustable straps 18 may be provided on the plate 21 and also in extension from the housing of the unit 11, so as to be readily tightened to maintain the overall unit in any desired pivotal position relative to the bed upon which it is shown to be employed.
Insofar as the internal elements of the unit 11 are concerned, reference is made to FIG. 2. It will be seen therefrom that there are provided a pair of pistons 31 and 32 mounted in the unit, as by guides 31' and 32' for reciprocal motion perpendicularly through the operative flat surface 12 of the unit. Considering the piston 31, for example, it will be seen that same includes a piston rod 41 mounted on a crankshaft 42 which, in turn, is controllably rotated by means of a small electric motor 43 mounted within the unit housing. The crankshaft 42 is engaged by the piston rod 41, and is shown to'be carried by a simple end bearing 42 secured to the interior of the housing at one end thereof, and engaging this crankshaft to prevent axial movement thereof. The crankshaft 42 is also shown to be connected through a simple clutch,,or engaging mechanism, 46 to the motor 43. A control lever 47 extends from this clutch 46 through a wall of the housing for operation exteriorly thereto. This lever is considered to be pivotal about the pivot point shown for consequently moving the clutch mechanism axially of the crankshaft,or drive shaft, 42, so as to controllably disengage same from the motor 43. It will thus be seen that the piston is controllably connected to the motor 43 for reciprocation, as the crankshaft, or drive shaft, 42 is rotated by the motor. In FIG. 2 the piston is shown to be connected for reciprocation by the motor. The other piston 32'is similarly connected in disengageable relation to the motor 43. A separate control lever 48 is shown to be provided for operating a clutch or disconnect mechanism in the drive train of the piston 32. These levers preferably extend from an unobstructed side of the housing for ready access.
It is to be appreciated that pistons 31 and 32 are adapted to reciprocate relative to the surface 12 of the unit for movement perpendicularly therethrough, so as to consequently strike blows against the undersurface of a foot strapped to this surface 12 of the unit. The tops of each of the pistons 31 and 32 are padded as illustrated so as not to bruise or injure the bottom of a foot struck thereby. Furthermore, each of the pistons has a substantial diameter so as to apply the blows therefrom over a substantial surface of the bottom of the foot, preferably the ball and heel of the foot.
The unit 11 is further illustrated as being adapted for controllable adjustment of the spacing between pistons 31 and 32 along the surface 12 thereof. To this end, the unit housing is divided into two slideably engaging portions 26 and 27. The housing of the unit will thus be seen to be expandable to vary the separation between the pistons 31 and 32; internally this adjustment may be accommodated in the drive mechanism by splining of the drive shaft, or crankshaft, with one inside of the other in longitudinally slideable relation. Consequently, the distance between the pistons 31 and 32 may be adjusted to thereby accommodate feet of different sizes in order that the pistons will be aligned with the ball and heel of any foot. A locking screw 28 may be threaded through the outer portion 27 of the housing into bearing engagement with the inner portion, for fixing the relative positions of the two portions as desired. As noted above, the crankshafts, or drive shafts, of the drive mechanism within the unit, are carried by the end bearing, so that upon movement of the portions 26 and 27 apart, the drive shaft, or crankshaft, will move therewith, and the splined engagement of the shafts allows driving relationship to be maintained, even though the housing be expanded.
Electrical energization of the drive motor 43 may be accomplished from a conventional convenience outlet, as by means of a male connector 51 at the outer end of an electrical lead 52 extending into the unit. In order to vary the force of the blows applied by the pistons, it is also possible to provide a simple rheostat 53 mounted in the wall of the unit in the electrical line to the motor with a simple knob on the exterior of the unit for varying energization of the motor. While this will not serve to vary the travel of the pistons, it will vary the rapidity of piston motion and also the interval between blows struck by the pistons. This rheostat 53 may be a conventional, inexpensive unit.
With regard to operation of the present invention, it is noted that the unit 11 is adapted to be strapped to the undersurface of a foot 16 so that the foot is firmly held against the unit. Normally, the unit is placed in horizontal position as illustrated in FIG. 1, with the patient, or user, lying on a bed, or the like, and a unit firmly affixed to some upright member such as the foot rail of the bed. It will, of course, be appreciated that the unit may be oriented in any position desired, as long as it is strapped to the foot of the patient, or at least the foot is firmly held against the flat operative surface 12 of the unit. With the two pistons connected for energization through the control levers 47 and 48, and upon energization of the drive motor 43, the pistons will reciprocate to thereby strike successive blows against the ball and heel of the foot 16. It is to be appreciated that the unit is originally adjusted as to pistons separation by sliding the housing portions 26 and 27 relative to each other so that the pistons will be aligned with the ball and heel of the foot of the patient. The set screw 28 may then be tightened to hold the unit in the desired extended position. The unit operates, as noted above, to strike blows against the ball and heel of the foot to exercise the leg muscles extending to the foot. In particular, the anterior tibial and gastroc nemius muscles of the leg calf are exercised. in addition, the bones of the foot undergo the application of forces which is highly advantageous in the stimulation of bone growth. Considering further the example of a child suffering from cerebral palsy, it is noted that the heel cord, or gastroc nemius muscle, commonly tightens as it has a greater natural strength than the muscles extending along the forward portion of the calf and shin. This, then, results in the foot being pivoted downwardly and the present invention operates to force the foot back to normal position. Not only is this forcing accomplished through exercise, achieved herein by the striking of successive blows to the ball and heel of the foot, but also through the adjusting means provided at the back surface of the unit. Thus, with the foot strapped to the unit and the patient lying in bed as illustrated, it is possible to turn the thumb screw 23 with the upper securing belt 18 loosened so as to apply a pivoting force to the ball of the foot while holding the heel immobile. This, then, serves to push, or pivot, the foot upwardly with respect to the leg. Consequently, it is possible with the present invention to exercise, or stimulate, the foot and leg muscles with the foot pivoted in various positions. Under circumstances wherein it is desirable to operate primarily upon a single muscle, or group of muscles, the operating levers 47 and 48 may be employed to inactivate either of the pistons desired. it is particularly emphasized, with regard to operation of the present invention, that it not only serves to stimulate and strengthen leg and foot muscles but also to stimulate bone growth. This latter point is of great importance in those situations wherein the foot has previously been tilted downwardly as described above and insufficient exercise has resulted in underdevelopment of the heel.
While the present invention is particularly adapted for utilization with deformed and undeveloped feet and legs, it is noted that the invention is equally applicable for use in the additional strengthening or exercise of normal feet and legs. It has been found also that the present invention has a wide variety of applications in the field of orthopedics.
While it is believed that the manner of use of the present invention is quite obvious to those skilled in the art, it is particularly noted that the unit is adapted for successive but generally intermittent usage, such as a short period each day for example. In clear distinction to the great majority of orthopedic devices, the present invention directly attacks the cause of deformities so as to correct same and discourage the occurrence thereof. Rather than providing corrective measures or means by which normal activities may be accomplished despite deformities, the present invention serves to prevent the occurrence of such deformities, or, at least, to reduce the extent thereof, so that normal operations of the foot and leg are possible. There is thus provided by the present invention a very simple unit of great advantage in the field of orthopedic medicine which may be employed without professional assistance or supervision and which yet produces results hitherto unavailable.
l. A leg stimulator and exerciser comprising a housing having an operating surface adapted to engage the sole of a foot, a pair of pistons mounted in said housing for reciprocation through said operative surface, drive means controllably reciprocating said pistons to alternately strike blows against the sole of a foot engaging said operative surface, and adjusting means controllably varying the separation of said pistons at said operative surface for adjusting them to align with the ball and heel of a foot engaging said surface.
2. The leg stimulator and exerciser of claim 1 further defined by said housing having a back surface on the opposite side thereof from said operative surface, and means controllably varying the angular relation between said back surface and operative surface.
3. The leg stimulator and exerciser of claim 2 further defined by said back surface comprising a separate plate hinged to said housing along an edge parallel to one end of said operative surface, and said means comprising an element threaded into the housing and bearing on said plate for pivoting the plate about said hinge.
4. The leg stimulator and exerciser of claim 1 further defined by said adjusting means including two housing portions slidably engaging each other longitudinally of said operative surface for varying the length thereof, said housing portions separately mounting said two pistons, and said drive means continuously engaging said pistons in all adjusted housing positions.
5. The leg stimulator and exerciser of claim 1 further defined by control means engaging said drive means for selectively disengaging each of said pistons separately whereby either of said pistons may be separately reciprocated.
6. A leg stimulator and exerciser comprising a housing having an operating surface adapted to engage the sole of a foot and having a heel rest at one end, a pair of pistons mounted in said housing for reciprocation through openings in said operative surface with said pistons being spaced from each other and from said heel rest longitudinally of said surface, drive means controllably reciprocating said pistons to alternately strike blows against the sole of a foot engaging said operative surface, said housing comprising two portions slidably engaging each other longitudinally of said operative surface for varying length thereof, said pair of pistons being mounted on