Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS3556089 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 19, 1971
Filing dateAug 23, 1968
Priority dateAug 23, 1968
Publication numberUS 3556089 A, US 3556089A, US-A-3556089, US3556089 A, US3556089A
InventorsFrazier James L, Frazier Sara J
Original AssigneeFrazier James L, Frazier Sara J
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Hydrotherapy conduit for bathtub
US 3556089 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
Previous page
Next page
Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent Primary ExaminerL. W. Trapp AtromeyHugh H. Drake ABSTRACT: A hydrotherapy device in the form of a conduit shaped to lie on the bottom and generally around the sides ofa bathtub filled with water. it is coupled by a flexible hose to an external source of air, such as the exhaust outlet ofa tank-type vacuum cleaner, in order to eject streams of air into the water through a plurality of apertures located around the conduit. The walls of the conduit are resiliently very flexible to enable it to be folded upon itself for purposes of storage. The conduit preferably is of semicircular cross section and desirably includes an additional manually removable conduit coupled between its sides. Also desirably included on the underside of the conduit is a magnetic material or the like for removably securing the conduit to the bottom of the tub.

PATENIEI] JAN 1 9 I97] SHEET 1 BF 2 Inventors domes L. Fr0z |er Sara J. Frazier yw aeagut Atiorney PIC-3.4

Pmmmmm 3556.089

I I. I- p. i-

Inventors urnes L. FI'OZIGI' Sara J. Frozler BYQAUQ'QEQDJ Attorney HYDROTHERAPY CONDUIT FOR BATl-ITUB SPECIFICATION The present invention pertains to hydrotherapy devices. More particularly. it relates to a device immersible in a tub of water for directing jets of air generally upward into that water.

A number of air-jet-type hydrotherapy devices have been suggested for use in the typical home bathtub, and. in that connection. it has been noted that a readily available source of the air is the exhaust outlet of an ordinary tank-type vacuum cleaner. Those of such devices that have found their way into the market place generally are disadvantageous in that they are excessively costly and are somewhat awkward to ship or to store either where merchandised or in the home when not in use. Some of the previously suggested hydrotherapy devices also represent a degree of danger to the user by reason of their presence on the bottom of the bathtub.

It is. therefore. a general object of the present invention to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device which overcomes the beforenoted disadvantages.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device that performs efficiently and yet is capable of being stored or shipped with minimal space requirements.

A related object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device that may be readily tailored to fit variety of bathtub sizes and shapes.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device that enhances the safety of the user.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device which is economical to manufacture and merchandise.

A still further object of the present invention is to provide a new and improved hydrotherapy device that selectively permits the creation of a whirlpool action in the tub of water instead of. or in addition to. the emission of a plurality of jets of air into that water.

A hydrotherapy device in accordance with the present invention is immersible in a generally flat-bottomed tub of water for ejecting into the water air supplied by an external source. It includes a conduit shaped to lie generally around the periphery and on the bottom of the tub. and. when so disposed, its walls resiliently define a predetermined conduit cross-sectional shape while being characterized by having sufficient lateral deformability to enable manual folding of the conduit resiliently back upon itself. Included in the conduit wall are means defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length. A flexible hose coupled at one end into the conduit has a coupler attached to its other end that is attachable into the air source.

In one form. the device defines a closed loop. In another. the conduit is closed at one end and the hose is coupled into the other. In accordance with a further form of the invention, the latter version includes means for mixing water with air delivered into the conduit from the hose. As still another feature. the mixed water and air are selectively deliverable. at least in part. directly into the tub instead of into the conduit.

The features of the present invention which are believed to be novel are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The organization and manner of operation of the invention. together with further objects and advantages thereof. may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings. in the several figures of which like reference numerals identify like elements. and in which:

FIG. I is plan view of an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 2-2 in FIG. I;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are fragmentary views of alternative portions of the device shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a plan view of an alternative embodiment of the presentinvention;

FIG. 6 is an enlarged view ofa portion of the device of FIG. 5; and

FIG. 7 is an enlarged cross-sectional view of another portion of the device of FIG. 5.

As shown in FIG. I for purposes of illustration. the hydrotherapy device is embodied in the form of a closed loop conduit II] of generally rectangular shape so as to lie generally around the periphery and on the generally flat bottom of the ordinary household bathtub. A flexible hose I] is coupled at one end into conduit I0 and at its other end has a coupler l2 attachable into a source of air. In this case. coupler I2 is of the same conventional type used at one end of ordinary vacuum cleaner flexible hoses so as to be engageable within the exhaust outlet of the usual tank-type vacuum cleaner which thereby serves as the source of air. Other air sources. such as an ordinary hair dryer. may be substituted. Spaced along the length of conduit l0are a. plurality of apertures I3 so that. when hose II is coupled to the external supply of air and conduit I0 is immersed in a bathtub at least partially filled with water. a corresponding plurality of airjets are directed in into the water. preferably inwardly and upwardly as indicated by the position of aperture 13 in FIG. 2. In consequence. the water is agitated and the jets also impinge upon the skin of the user seated in the water on the tub bottom generally inside the loop formed by conduit 10. Such impingement upon the users skin affords at least astimulating felling for the s user.

As also shown by FIG. 2. conduit 10 preferably is of generally semicircular cross-sectional shape. presenting a flat part of its surface to the bottom of the tub. Moreover. preferably disposed on at least a part of that flat portion of the conduit is a securing element I4 that exhibits a manually releasable adherence to the tub bottom. While the securing element may be in the form of a series of suction cups affixed to or formed in the bottom part of conduit It]. as shown in FIGv 2 it is a strip composed of a flexible material. such as rubber or plastic. in which magnetized particles are embedded. In use in a conventional bathtub fabricated of steel or other magnetic material. the magnetic attraction serves to secure the device firmly in place. Alternatively. element 14 has its exposed outer surface coated with a contact-type adhesive medium so as to be affixable to the initially dry surface of a tub made of plastic or other nonmagnetic material. In one implementation of this latter approach. a strip of transparent tape having a contact adhesive on both sides is first secured to the flat part of conduit I0 so as to leave an exposed adhesive surface for contact with the tub bottom. In any case. securing element I4 may be either continuous or affixed only to spaced portions of the underside of conduit 10.

Conduit 10 may be of one-piece construction and even flexible hose 1] may be integrally formed therewith or at least may be fixedly coupled irlto the conduit. As shown in FIG. 1. however. conduit 10 is basically composed of a pair of opposed U-shaped sections 15 and I6 with hose II being in this case coupled into section 16 by a T-shaped fitting 17 preferably located near one corner of the rectangle defined by conduit 10. The open ends of the fitting are in this case frictionally ensleeved into the respective ends of section 16 and hose ll. Conduit 10 is in this instance divided into its two sections I5 and 16 to permit the inclusion of an additional conduit member 18 coupled at its opposite ends respectively into the opposed sides of conduit 10 by the use of additional T- shaped fittings l9 and 20 employed in the same manner as fitting 17. Member I8 also includes a plurality of apertures 21 spaced along its length.

In a more deluxe. though also more costly. version. either of sections 15 or I6 may be further segmented to permit the inclusion of additional cross members like conduit I8 and its T- fittings I9 and 20. Also. the principal lengths of conduit I0 may be fabricated entirely of straight sections in which case Ibows 12 are utilized to form the corners as depicted in FIG. 3. In a further alternative. one of such elbows may include an additional nipple so as to receive the end of hose II and thus serve in place offltting 17in FIG. 1. I

In use, it has been found that people desire and enjoy the inclusion of one or more crossmembers l8. Nevertheless, certain persons seem not to appreciate the presence of the crossmember (or members) while yet desiring the benefit of conduit I0. To satisfy the latter persons while yet accommodating the former, the multi-piece version of the device also includes additional straight nipples 23 for use in joining sections [5 and 16 as shown in FIG. 4 while omitting it from use crossmember l8. Regardless ofwhether conduit I0 is of unitary or multiplepiece assembly and irrespective of its precise cross-sectional shape, its walls, in the preferred embodiment. are of a material selected so as resiliently to define its cross-sectional shape while being characterized by having sufficient lateral deformability so as to enable the conduit to be manually folded (or rolled] resiliently back upon itself. To this end, conduit I0 is composed of a resiliently flexible material such as soft plastic or neoprene rubber. A typical appropriate material is that commonly in use as a flexible sealing element in door threshholds To the end of insuring such resilient deformability of conduit l0 when element 14 is included, that element likewise is characterized by having at least the same degree of lateral deformability. For example, very flexible strips of rubber, impregnated with magnetic particles, are distributed widely for use in securing miscellaneous objects to the surfaces of various different articles.

By reason of the resilient deformability of the walls of conduit 10, when not in use it may be folded or rolled into a comparatively small package and stored in an out-of-the-way place such as in a drawer or on a shelf. Similarly, the device may conveniently be packaged for shipment or for storage by the merchandiser. The high degree of resilient deformability is also advantageous in that the device readily conforms its contour to that of the tub bottom. At the same time, the general softness or yieldability of such a material permits it to be depressed when stepped on with resulting increased safety for the user when standing in the tub or when entering or leaving the tub. The safety of the user is further enhanced by the flat conduit bottom and by the inclusion of securing element 14 so as to inhibit movement of the device relative to the tub bottom, especially in the case when stepped upon by the user. The presence of crossmember 18, when used, further enhances the safety of the user. Still additionally, the materials from which the device is made may be readily sterilized. To that end, the different fittings, such as fittings I7, I9 and 20. preferably are composed of a plastic such as polyvinyl chloride.

The illustrated fittings have a diameter chosen so that when slipped into the corresponding open end of the conduit, the latter, as permitted by the flexibility of its walls, is frietionally ensleeved upon the end of the fitting. Additional conduit member 18 need not be of the same cross-sectional area as that of conduit 10, although for economy of manufacture it preferably is cut from the same stock of material. Except in the case of the one-piece or unitary assembly, which in itself is economical by reason of its simplicity and the fact that it may be formed of conventional stock material, the different versions are economical to manufacture. assembly and ship, because all the components may be of standard available types. For example, the different T-llttings are readily available from plastic pipe suppliers and conduit stock of the kind described is likewise readily available from rubber or plastic material suppliers. The formation of conduit 10 into a plurality of segments joined together by coupling nipples or elbows also permits the device to be marketed in the form of its individual components so as to enable the purchaser to acquire whatever parts and pieces he may need to accommodate the device to bathtubs or other water containers of various sizes and shapes. Moreover, spare coupling nipples may be used in case of the need to repair a break in the conduit.

As shown in FIG. 1, conduit 10 defines a closed loop. This is advantageous in that simpler version because the pressure tends to be more uniform throughout the length of the conduit. Alternatively, fitting l7 may be removed and one portion 24 of section I6 closed or plugged at that point. with hose 11 being coupled only into the corresponding end of the other portion 25 of section 16. A similar arrangement is depicted in FIG. 5 in which portion 24 is closed at its free end by a plug 26 (FIG. 6), while portion 25 is replaced by an alternative unit for coupling hose ll into section 15 through a coupling nipple 23. In this case, additional conduit member 18 is omitted, although when desired it may be included by substituting T- shaped fittings l9 and 20 for straight nipples 23.

Included in the FIG. 5 version is a unit 28 for mixing water with air delivered into the conduit from hose II as well as for permitting the mixture of water and air to be selectively discharge directly into the tub. To this end, and as shown in more detail in FIG. 7, unit 28 includes a pressure chamber 29 from one side of which projects a first inlet fitting 30 upon which hose II is ensleeved. A suction line 3! projects into the interior of chamber 29 and at its outer end 32 defines a second inlet that in use is disposed in and therefore communicates with the body of water that fills the tub. Also disposed within chamber 29 is a header 33 having an interior opening 34 shaped to define, together with the interior end surface of suction line 3i, and annular jet. Beyond the jet region, header 33 is necked down interiorly to define a mixing throat 35 which, further on, diverges outwardly to constitute a diffuser 36. As such, the portions of unit 28 thus far described constitute a well-known jet pump or annular jet inducer; the pump version particularly illustrated and described exemplifies but one of a number of available pumps that may be utilized for the purpose of drawing water from the tub through inlet 32 in response to the deliver of air from hose 11. In this case, the air entering at an angle through the annular jet is not only directed on through throat 35 but, by Venturi effect, also sucks a continuous flow of water through inlet 32 and also into throat 35. in the latter, as well as in diffuser 36, the water and air are thoroughly mixed together and directed outwardly of the diffuser.

The outer end of diffuser 36 is bifurcated to define a pair of outlets 38 and 39. Disposed in outlet 38 is a gate valve 40 that is selectively controlled manually by a handle 41 connected to the valve by a stem 42 which passes through a bushing 43 secured in a wall of outlet 38. The other outlet 39 is this in this case ensleeved within nipple 23.

in use with valve 40 in the closed position, the hydrotherapy device performs in a manner similar to the device of FIG. 1, except that the jets emitted from apertures 13 are a mixture of air and water. The addition of the water in the jets causes a somewhat different sensation when they impinge upon the skin of the user. However, the same sensation as with the FIG. 1 device may also be experienced by action of the user simply to place his palm over or otherwise to plug inlet 32; in that case, after a short interval, pure air jets are emitted. Alternatively and generally to this same end, a valve may be situated in inlet 32 to permit manual control of the amount of water that is mixed with the air or to cut off the water flow entirely. If desired. a screen may be included over inlet 32 in order to block the entrance to objects such as a washcloth.

To achieve the different hydrotherapy effect of whirlpool action, the user opens valve 40 so that a stream of mixed water and air is ejected directly into the tub from outlet 38. Since outlet 38 is aligned with nipple 23, the water emerges in a direction generally parallel with the sides of the tub and the 'familiar whirlpool action insues.

As contemplated in the construction of the FIG. 5 embodiment, apertures 13 are comparatively small so as to emit narrow and comparatively high velocity jetsnConsequently, the back pressure presented to outlet 39 is sufficient that, when valve 40 is opened, most of the mixture going through diffusor 36 emerges from inlet 38 directly into the tub. Accordingly, only the single valve 40 is usually necessary in order adequately to select between operation in the whirlpool mode and in the plural jet mode. Nevertheless, when desired, a second valve may similarly be disposed in outlet 39, or any suitable two-wave valve may be situated just ahead of outlets 38 and 39 so as to select positively between them.

As in the case of the FIG. 1 embodiment, all of the parts in the version of FIG. 5, including the entire assembly of pump unit 28, may be fabricated of plastic. Consequently, the FIG. 5 version retains essentially all of the features and advantages previously adverted to with respect to FIGS. 1 to 4. In addition, the further features described with respect to FIG. 5 afford considerably greater flexibility by allowing the user to chose between two different plural jet characteristics as will as between hydrotherapeutic jet action and hydrotherapeutic whirlpool action.

While particular embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, it will be obvious to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made without departing from the invention in its broader aspects, and, therefore, the aim in the appended claims is to cover all such changes and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.

We claim:

I. A hydrotherapy device immersible in a generally flat-bottomed tub of water for ejecting into the water air supplied by an external source and comprising:

a conduit shaped to lie generally around the periphery and on the bottom of said tub and, when so disposed. the walls of which resiliently define a conduit cross-sectional shape that is generally semicircular while being characterized by having sufficient lateral deformability to enable manual folding of the conduit resiliently back upon itself;

means disposed in the curved portion of said conduit wall defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length; and

a flexible hose coupled at one end into said conduit and, at its other end having a coupler attachable into such source.

2. A device as defined in claim 1 which further includes a securing element disposed on at least part of the flat portion of said conduit wall with said element being also characterized by having said lateral deformability and exhibiting a manually releasable adherence to a said bottom.

3. A device as defined in claim 2 in which said securing element is a strip composed of a flexible material in which magnetized particles are embedded.

4. A device as defined in claim 2 in which said securing element is a strip the exposed outer surface of which is coated with an adhesive medium.

5. A hydrotherapy device immersible in a generally flat-bottomed tub of water for ejecting into the water air supplied by an external source and comprising:

a conduit shaped to lie generally around the periphery and on the bottom of said tub and, when so disposed, the walls of which resiliently define a predetermined conduit crosssectional shape while being characterized by having sufficient lateral deformability to enable manual folding of the conduit resiliently back upon itself;

means in said conduit wall defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length;

a flexible hose coupled at one end into said conduit and, at its other end, having a coupler attachable into such source; and

an additional conduit member coupled at its opposite ends respectively into opposed sides of said conduit and including means defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length.

6. A device as defined in claim 5 in which said additional conduit member is manually removable from said closed loop conduit.

7. A hydrotherapy device immersible in a generally flat-bottomed tub of water for ejecting into the water air supplied by an external source and comprising:

a conduit shaped to lie generally around the periphery and on the bottom of said tub and, when so disposed. the walls of which resiliently define a predetermined conduit crosssectional shape while being characterized by having suffcient lateral deformability to enable manual folding of the conduit resilientl back upon itself; means in said con uit wall defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length;

a flexible hose coupled at one end into said conduit and, at its other end, having a coupler attachable into said source; and

means for closing one end of said conduit together with means for coupling said hose into the other end of said conduit.

8. A device as defined in claim 7 in which said coupling means includes means for mixing water with air delivered into said conduit from said hose.

9. A device as defined in claim 8 in which said mixing means includes an inlet opening into said tub and a pump for drawing the water to be mixed through said inlet in response to said delivery of said air.

10. A device as defined in claim 8 in which said mixing means includes a pair of outlets, one of said outlets being coupled into said conduit and the other opening into said tub, and a selectively closable valve disposed in the other of said outlets.

11. A hydrotherapy device immersible in a generally flat bottomed tub of water for ejecting into the water air supplied by an external source and comprising:

a conduit shaped to lie generally around the periphery and on the bottom of said tub;

means in said conduit wall defining a plurality of apertures spaced along its length;

means for closing one end of said conduit;

a pump having a pair of inlets and a pair of outlets, one of said inlets and one of said outlets opening into said tub with the other of said outlets being coupled into the other end of said conduit, and said pump being responsive to air delivered through the other inlet for drawing water through said one inlet and for directing the air and water toward said outlets;

a flexible hose coupled at one end into said other inlet and, at its other end, having a coupler attachable to said source; and

a selectively closable valve disposed to control the flow of water through said one outlet.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3075520 *Jul 30, 1962Jan 29, 1963Alvis E TaborPortable hydrotherapy machine
US3076976 *Feb 19, 1962Feb 12, 1963Bogar Lawrence ALiquid aerating and agitating device
US3251071 *Jul 26, 1963May 17, 1966Probe And Develop IncTherapeutic bathtub
US3299885 *Sep 19, 1963Jan 24, 1967American Radiator & StandardHydrotherapeutic mat with air inlet means and means facilitating rolling into a cylinder
US3373740 *Apr 8, 1965Mar 19, 1968Anna RieplHydrokinetic bath apparatus
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3692024 *Oct 16, 1970Sep 19, 1972Henry E NicholsSurgical appliance
US4126905 *May 16, 1977Nov 28, 1978Fox Pool CorporationFloating therapy pool
US4984583 *Jan 26, 1988Jan 15, 1991Associated Mills, Inc.Air bubbling mats for therapeutically agitating bath water
US5418984 *Jun 28, 1993May 30, 1995Plastic Development Company - PdcHydrotherapy seat structure for a hydrotherapy spa, tub or swimming pool
US5567127 *Nov 9, 1994Oct 22, 1996Wentz; Kennith W.Low noise air blower
EP0433874A1 *Dec 13, 1990Jun 26, 1991Martin T. SchydloWhirlpool or swimmingpool fluid introduction device
Classifications
U.S. Classification601/168, 4/559
International ClassificationA61H33/02
Cooperative ClassificationA61H33/025
European ClassificationA61H33/02B