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Publication numberUS3581740 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJun 1, 1971
Filing dateSep 2, 1969
Priority dateSep 2, 1969
Publication numberUS 3581740 A, US 3581740A, US-A-3581740, US3581740 A, US3581740A
InventorsRobert D Sherbourne
Original AssigneeKuss & Co R L
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inflatable device for arthritic therapy
US 3581740 A
Abstract  available in
Images(2)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor Robefl D. Sherbourne [56] References Cited Findlay, Ohio UNITED STATES PATENTS Qm' 252 2.880.72l 4/1959 Corcoran ,1 128/260UX 451 Patented June 1, 1971 FORE'GN PATENTS [73] Assigncc R, L, Kuss & Co, Inc 735,700 6/1966 Canada r. l28/87 Findhy Ohio Primary Examiner-L. W. Trapp Attorney-Owen & Owen ABSTRACT: An inflatable splint for extending the fingers and wrist of the hand of the wearer. The splint has an inflatable chamber extending over the hand and wrist area of the wearer, NFLATABLE DEVICE FOR ARTHRYHC with one surface which assumes a planar configuration when THERfuW the splint is inflated. The one surface has finger loops adapted l3 Chums 6 Drawmg to receive the fingers of the wearer and positioned such that. [52] U.S.Cl 128/77, upon inflation, the fingers will be moved to a normally exl28/87A tended, spaced-apart position. Wrist straps on the wrist area [51] Int. Cl A6lf 5/10 re pr vi to en ir l he w r r wri so ha pon infl [50] Field of Search 128/26, 87, tion, the wrist joint of the wearer will be moved to a straight position along with the extended fingers.

PmmEm new 3.581.740

- sum 1 OF 2 I NVENTOR. HUBER TD. 5115121501112;

' PATENIEI] JUN usn 3,681,740

SHEET 2 or 2 I NVENTOR: EUBEHT D. SHERBUURNE.

.ATTYE.

INFLATABLE DEVICE FOR ARTHRITIC THERAPY This invention is an inflatable device for use in extending the fingers and wrist of a person, and is particularly adapted for use in the physical therapy of persons suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

Current treatment of persons inflicted with rheumatoid arthritis may include manipulative techniques, such as programmed joint flexure, along with injections of drugs known to relieve arthritic pain and improve mobility of the inflicted joints. The present invention is an inflatable device which is particularly designed to be placed upon a hand of an arthritic patient, which has assumed a posture in which the fingers are curled and drawn together with the wrist bent at an angle to the forearm With the device installed upon the back of the hand of the wearer in its noninflated position, and secured to the fingers and wrist of the wearer, it is inflated to gradually extend and straighten the fingers and to straighten the wrist so that, upon complete inflation, the hand of the wearer assumes a normal, extended position with the fingers, wrist and forearm generally lying in the same plane.

Various types of inflatable splints are known in the prior art and are described, for example, in U.S Pat. Nos. 2,694,395, 2,943,859 and Re. No. 26,046.The prior art inflatable splints, of the type described in the aforementioned patents, have been designed to exert forces upon the surrounded extremity, such as a forearm or leg, in order to either improve circulation, prevent bleeding, etc. In contrast to this type of inflatable splint, the device of the present invention is designed so that it may be placed upon the deformed,-curled hand of the wearer. in its noninflated position, and when inflated, will cause the curled fingers and wrist to assume a more normal, straight and extended position.

Other objects and advantages of the present invention will be more fully understood from the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof, with reference being made to the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of the inflatable device of this invention, showing it in deflated form and, in broken line, the inflated form;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG. I, and showing the normally extended position of a right hand of a wearer;

FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 33 of FIG. 2 and showing the relative positions of the finger loops of the device;

FIG. 4 is a schematic illustration of the device of FIGS. 1 through 3, in its noninflated position, installed upon the curled hand of a wearer;

FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the device of FIG. 4, showing the device in its inflated position and the manner in which the hand of the wearer is caused to move to its extended position; and

FIG. 6 is cross-sectional view of the inflated device shown in FIG. 5, taken along line 66 of FIG. 5.

Referring to FIGS. 1 through 3, the preferred embodiment of this invention includes an inflatable chamber 10 comprised of a base portion 11 and cover portion 12. The base portion 11 and cover portion 12 are joined to one another about a common periphery throughout a hand area 13 and a wrist area 14. Thus, as best seen in FIG. 1, the inflatable chamber '10 extends throughout the hand area 13 and wrist area 14 to comprise a common airtight chamber. The surface area of the cover portion 12 is larger than that of the base portion 11, so that, when the inflatable chamber I0 is inflated, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 3, the base portion 11 will assume a generally planar configuration with the cover portion 12 distending above the base portion 11 as shown by the wrinkles 12a in its noninflated position, to provide the air chamber 10.

The peripheral edges of the base portion 11 and cover portion 12 may be heat sealed or adhesively attached to one another. The material comprising the base portion 11 and cover portion 12 must a substantially nonelastic but flexible material, such as polyvinyl chloride, which is air impervious, can be washed, and will not irritate the skin of the wearer.

Other suitable materials will be apparent to those skilled in the art.

In order to facilitate the desired movement of the instant device in which the base portion 11, upon inflation, assumes a generally planar configuration, it may be desirable to fabricate the base portion 11 from a material of a heavier gauge than that of the material of the cover portion 12 so that the base portion 11 tends to resist flexure as the cover portion 12 extends from the air pressure.

A manually operated air valve 15 is provided in the cover portion 12 so that the inflatable chamber 10 may be selectively filled or deflated when the valve is open or held in an inflated position when the valve 15 is closed. While the valve 15 could extend through the base portion 11, it is more convenient to position it on the-cover portion 12 because it is better exposed to manipulation by the patient or medical assistant when the hand of the patient is placed in position on the device. Because the area of the splint is relatively large in relation to the hand of the wearer, a relatively low air pressure-such as 5 p.s.i.-is sufficient to provide the force necessary to extend the fingers.

Secured to the exposed surface of the base portion 11 in the wrist area 14 are a pair of wrist straps l6 and 17 which are designed to encircle the wrist of the wearer. The wrist straps may be attached around the wearers wrist by a conventional buckle, may be adhesively engaged, or, as in this preferred embodiment, may consist of a nylon tape fastener of the type sold under the trademark Velcro, manufactured by the Velcro Corporation of New York City, New York. I

A plurality of loops l823 are secured to the exposed surface of the base portion 11 and are positioned as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3 over the hand area 13 to receive the fingers and thumb of the wearer. The loops 18 through 21 are finger loops which are positioned in an arcuate line, substantially equally spaced apart, in an area opposite the wrist area 14. A thumb loop 22 or 23 is positioned at one end of the arcuate line of finger loops 18-21, and is spaced therefrom a distance greater than the spacing between the finger loops l821. When thus positioned, the loops 1821 will accommodate either a right hand of the wearer, as shown in FIG. 2, where the thumb is inserted through the loop 22, or a left hand of the wearer in which the thumb is inserted through the loop 23.

Each of the loops is comprised of a flexible material, has a diameter sufficient to receive the finger or thumb to be inserted therein, and is heat sealed, adhesively secured, or sewn to the bottom of the base portion 11. The loops l823 can also be formed as closed tunnels in glovelike fashion, or a single band of flexible material could be used in place of the finger loops l821 in the event that malformation of the patients hand and fingers is so severe that the fingers cannot be separated for insertion into individual loops. Open loops, such as are shown, are preferred for accommodating hands of different sizes.

Referring to FIGS. 4 and 5, the device of this invention is used as follows. With the device in its noninflated state, the fingers of the hand are inserted into the finger loops l821 and the thumb loop 22 or 23. As shown in FIG. 4, the hand of the wearer, which will be in a curved and partially clenched position with the wrist bent at an angle to the forearm, is positioned below the base portion 11 of the device, with the back of the hand adjacent the base portion Ill. Because the device is noninflated, it will readily conform to the curvature of the hand and wrist and can be slipped on easily by the wearer or an attendant. Once the fingers and thumb have been inserted in the appropriate loops, the wrist straps 16 and 17 are attached around the wrist of the wearer, as shown in FIG. 4.

Inflation of the inflatable chamber 10 causes the base portion 11 of the device to approach its generally planar configuration, which moves the terminal portions of the device adjacent the fingertips and the forearm upwardly, as indicated by the arrows in FIG. 4. With full inflation of the inflatable chamber 10, the device and hand of the wearer will appear as shown in FIG. 5. The rate of inflation of the inflatable chamber through the valve can be controlled so that the straightening of the hand takes place in gradual steps, in order to avoid undue discomfort to the wearer.

FIG. 6 shows an end view of the inflated device, with the hand removed, and indicates the relative position of the thumb loops 22 or 23 which lie in the same plane with the position of the wrist as it would be encircled by the strap 16.

Referring again to FIG. 2, the fingers inserted through the loops 18-21, in addition to being straightened as previously described, are spread apart because of the space between the loops 18-21 attached to the base portion 11. in the hand af fected by rheumatoid arthritis, the fingers are generally curled, as shown in FIG. 4, and are spaced closely together in the form of a modified fist, so that attachment of the device, when not inflated, can be accomplished by squeezing the finger loops 1821 together in addition to bending downwardly the base portion 11.

One of the unique advantages of this invention is that, when in its noninflated form, it can be used to accommodate almost any position of the afflicted hand of the wearer so that it can be inserted without discomfort to the wearer and gradually inflated until the hand of the wearer reaches its extended and distended position, as shown in FIGS. 2 and 5. Because the straightening action of the device is provided solely by the air pressure within the inflatable chamber 10, which is comprised of flexible material, no rigid splint or other member bears against any portion of the hand or arm.

in addition, another unique advantage of the present invention is that it is designed to operate upon the hand of the wearer which is placed within the device with the back of the hand adjacent the base portion 11, so that the air pressure from the inflatable chamber 10 gently pushes upon the upper surfaces of the fingers and wrist during inflation of the chamber in order to straighten these members, and the knuckles of the fingers, which are the most sensitive portions, are cushioned by the device as the fingers are being straightened.

Various other advantages of the instant invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art and modifications may be made to the preferred embodiment described described thereof which do not depart from the scope of the following claims.

Iclaim:

1. An inflatable device for extending the fingers and hand of the wearer, comprising an inflatable chamber of flexible material including a planar base portion and a cover portion, said base portion having a hand area and an elongate wrist area integrally extending from one edge of said hand area, said cover portion joined to said base portion about the outer periphery thereof but having a surface area larger than said base portion, and means on the exposed surface of said base portion for securing the fingers of the wearer in spaced-apart relation adjacent said exposed surface whereby, when said flexible device is installed upon curled fingers of the hand of the wearer with the back of the curled hand adjacent said exposed surface, inflation of said inflatable chamber will cause said base portion to assume a planar configuration, thus extending the fingers and hand of the wearer.

2. The inflatable device of claim 1 wherein said means for securing fingers of the wearer comprise loops of a flexible material on said exposed surface of said base, each of said loops having a diameter sufficient to receive a single finger of the wearer.

3. The inflatable device of claim 2 wherein said loops of flexible material are secured to said exposed surface in spaced-apart relation corresponding to the positions of fingers in an extended hand.

4. The inflatable device of claim 1 wherein said base portion includes means for positioning the fingers of the right and left hand of the wearer in a normally extended position for each hand.

5. The inflatable device of claim 4 wherein said finger positioning means comprises a loop of flexible material secured to said exposed surface of said base, each of said loops having a diameter sufficient to receive a single finger of the wearer.

6. The inflatable device of claim 5 wherein four finger loops are positioned in generally equally spaced-apart relation in an arcuate row on said base opposite said elongate wrist area and a single loop for the thumb finger of a hand of the wearer is positioned adjacent each end of said arcuate row and spaced therefrom a distance greater than the distance between adjacent ones of said four loops in said arcuate row.

7. The inflatable device of claim 1 wherein said base portion is comprised of a flexible material having a thickness greater than the material comprising said cover portion.

8. The inflatable device of claim 1 which further includes means for rcmovably securing said elongate wrist area to the wrist ofa wearer.

9. The inflatable device of claim 8 wherein said wrist-securing means comprises at least one flexible strap secured to said elongated wrist area and adapted to encircle the wrist of the wearer to hold said base portion of said wrist area closely adjacent thereto.

10. The inflatable device of claim 1 which further includes an air valve in said inflatable chamber for selectively admitting, holding, and releasing air therefrom.

11. An inflatable splint for extending and holding in extended position the fingers and hand of the wearer, comprising a flexible inflatable chamber having a hand area and an elongate wrist area extending from said hand area, said chamber having one surface extending through both of said hand and wrist areas, which surface, when said chamber is inflated, assumes a substantially planar configuration, means on said one surface in the hand area for securing the fingers ofa wearer in spaced-apart position, means on said wrist area for securing said one surface to the wrist of the wearer, whereby, when the fingers and wrist of a wearer are secured adjacent said one surface and said chamber is inflated, said one surface, on assuming its planar configuration, will cause said fingers and wrist of the wearer to straighten and to assume an extended position.

12. The inflatable splint of claim 11 which includes means in the hand area of said one surface for receiving the fingers of either the right or left hand ofa wearer.

13. The inflatable splint of claim 11 wherein said one surface is comprised of a flexible material having thickness greater than that of the material comprising the remainder of said inflatable chamber.

3 UNITED STATES PATENT OFFICE CERTIFICATE OF CORRECTION Patent No. 5,581,7Mo Dated June 1, 1971 Inventor(s) Robert; D, Sherbourne It is certified that error appears in the above-identified patent and that said Letters Patent are bereby corrected as shown below:

Column 1, line 6 after "portion ll" add as shown by the wrinkles 12a in its non-inflated position,

Column 1 line 68', after po'fti on 11" delete "as shown by the wrinkles 12a in its non-inflated posj.tion,",

Column 1 line 75, after "musfi insert "be" Column 3, line HO, efcer' "embodiment described" delete "deecribed",'

Signed and sealed this 12th day of October 1971.

(SEAL) Attest:

EDWARD M.FLETCHER,J'H.

ROBERT Attesting' Officer uOTTS HALK Acting Commissioner of Patents

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Classifications
U.S. Classification602/13, 602/21, 128/DIG.200, 601/40
International ClassificationA61H1/02
Cooperative ClassificationA61H2201/1238, Y10S128/20, A61H1/0288
European ClassificationA61H1/02M5F