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Publication numberUS3624666 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 30, 1971
Filing dateAug 5, 1970
Priority dateAug 5, 1970
Publication numberUS 3624666 A, US 3624666A, US-A-3624666, US3624666 A, US3624666A
InventorsHiggins Warren P Sr
Original AssigneeHiggins Warren P Sr
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Device for assisting handicapped persons to get into and out of a bathtub
US 3624666 A
Abstract  available in
Images(5)
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [72] Inventor Warren P. Higgins, Sr. Primary Examiner-Herbert F. Ross 1125 Grace St., San Leandro, Calif. 94578 Assistant Examiner-Dona1d B. Massenberg No. 21,2859 1970 Attorney-Owen, Wickersham & Erickson l e ug. [45] Patented Nov. 30, 1971 ABSTRACT: A self-assistance device for enabling handicapped persons to get into and out of a bathtub. A rack-and- [54] DEVICE FOR ASSISTING HANDICAPPED pinion system is operated in opposite directions by a pair of PERS ONS TO GET INTO AND OUT OF A BATHTUB ralchets, each having a pawl, and a clutching device for select- 6 Claims, 17 Drawing Figs. ing which ratchet and pawl means is to be engaged for moving 52 us. Cl 4/185 L and rack diectim duing mechanical [51] Int. Cl I A47k 3H2 stroke of a control lever, the other stroke being a return [50] Field of Search u u 4 12' 85 stroke. An arm pivotally attached to each of the two racks has S 85L one or more rollers engaging and moving up or down an inclined plane track means. Each arm has another roller for 5 References Cited engaging a front support member, there being two such, UNITED STATES PATENTS rigidly cpnnected togertlher by a transversely extending rod. An '11 H 33 upper p ate 1S pivote to this rod and 18 mounted through 11944 33:: hinge means to an additional support member which is hinged 2 2 50 enso 'l' 87/1 8 to the base, so that when the front support members are raised 2 0 3H9 Gross 4/185 the upper plate is elevated while being kept horizontal. A seat 2I7UI6S8 7/1955 johnsgg. 4/112 is swiveled on top of the plate. Thus, an entirely mechanical 277272 2/1956 Saun e s':" 248/42] system 18 provided for elevating and lowering a person in the 3 8 8 4 2/1969 Bickenheu'gg-rqi 4/] l2 tub, with the seats swiveling to enable one to get into and out FOREIGN PATNig from the seat when the seat is level with or slightly above the upper edge of the tub. 291,144 4/1916 Germany 4/112 65 z\z 9i 5? 6; 5% 6\2 32\ 66 68 7: 74

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ATTORNEYS PATENTEBHUV 30 l97l SHEET 4 0F 5 INVENTOR.

WARREN P. HIGGINS ATTORNEYS PATENTEDNUV 30 ISYI SHEET 5 UF 5 INVENTOR. WARREN P. HIGGINS, 3R

ATTORNEYS DEVICE FOR ASSISTING HANDICAPPED PERSONS TO GET INTO AND OUT OF A BATI-ITUB BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a self-assistance device that enables handicapped persons to get into and out of a bathtub.

Many people who are handicapped for one reason or another, and particularly elderly people who have lost strength in some of their limbs and people who have problems with their legs, as well as many other handicapped people, have difficulties when trying to take a bath. Thousands of accidents have occurred each year when people have unsuccessfully tried to get into and out of bathtubs and were not physically able to do it properly. The main purpose of this invention is to solve this problem.

Some attempts to solve the problem in the past'have relied on hydraulic or electric systems. Electricity is always dangerous in and around a bathtub, and hydraulic systems are expensite and have their difficulties. Both such systems have been very heavy and have been hard to place into and remove from the tub when other members of the family wished to use the tub and when setting the arrangement up for the handicapped person. They have involved the use of various attachments, hydraulic fluid, or connection to a source of power, and other factors which have proved unsatisfactory in many instances, both because of expense and weight and also because they have tended to become affected by the water in the bathtub or by other factors.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION The present invention is an all-mechanical system which affords a considerable mechanical advantage so that even people who are not very strong are still able to operate the system. The system is also quite safe so that a person using it cannot be injured by any proper use of the system and so that he is protected from the dangers of getting into and out from the tub.

In the invention, a seat member is supported with a swiveling action by an upper plate, which at one end is hinged to an idling support member, which in turn is hinged to a base member that rests on the bottom of the bathtub. The forward end of the seat, preferably, is pivotally mounted to a cross rod which is securely held between a pair of support members. These support members are raised and lowered together by their engagement with a pair of roller means, each of which is carried on an arm, and each arm is pivoted to a rack which is slidable fore-and-aft of the base. Each rack is driven by a pinion to move fore-andaft, and when it does so, its arm is moved fore-and-aft, and additional roller means on the arm cause the forward end of the arm to move up and down an inclined plane type of track. The arm's rollers are thus raised and the rollers engaging the pivoted support members cause the seat to be raised or lowered, while keeping it horizontal. Whether the seat is raised or lowered depends upon which way the rack is being moved.

There are a pair of these racks, one at each side of the base member, and each one has a pinion engaging it, both pinions being mounted on the same shaft, which extends laterally across the frame and is supported by journal means that rest on the base. Thus the two support members are coordinated perfectly. Control is obtained by a lever which is swung back and forth to raise and lower the seat. The handle is provided with a very simple clutching means operated by rotation by the user. In one rotational position a forward pawl at the bottom of the clutch lever engages a ratchet so as to cause the shaft to rotate in one direction and to idle when the control handle is moved back, the pawl then slipping across that ratchet wheel; this pawl-and-ratchet set causes the shaft to rotate the pinion means so as to move the rack in one direction on the power stroke. The clutching means also enables this pawl-and-ratchet set to be disconnected and the other ratchet means to be engaged by another pawl acting in the opposite direction, so that the swinging lever then causes the shaft to move in the opposite direction, and this results in moving the rack in the opposite direction. Thus, one ratchetpawl combination causes the seat to be lifted and the other one causes it to be lowered. There is no simple release for lowering. Everything is fully controlled.

Other objects and advantages of the invention will appear from the following description of a preferred embodiment.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a top plan view of an elevating device for use in bathtubs embodying the principles of the invention, a portion of the lower right comer being broken off. The device is shown in the position where the seat is in its lowermost position.

FIG. 2 is a fragmentary top plan view of the device of FIG. I installed a bathtub, illustrating in broken lines the seat in its elevating position in three different horizontal positions, showing the swiveling action. The control lever is cut off and shown in section.

FIG. 3 is a view in section taken along the line 3--3 in FIG. 2, showing in broken lines the upper position of the device with the seat shown in two different positions there, and in solid lines the seat in lowered position. The view is broken in the middle in order to conserve space.

FIG. 4 is a view in section taken along the line 44 in FIG. 2. The view is again broken in the middle to conserve space. The control lever is shown in three different positions, two being shown in broken lines, and the seat is shown in broken lines in halfway and fully up positions, being also shown swiveled in its fully up position. In solid lines it is shown on the bottom.

FIG. 5 is a view in side elevation of the device with the seat in its bottom position of FIG. 1, the rear end of the seat being broken off for the same reason. The side flange is shown broken away to expose working parts.

FIG. 6 is a similar view with the seat fully elevated. The control lever is again broken to conserve space.

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary enlarged detail view in elevation and in section of the lever support member, ratchets, rack and pinion arrangement.

FIG. 8 is a view in end elevation of the device of FIG. I, with the seat in its lowest position and with the control lever broken 05 to conserve space. The view is cut away to expose the lever means, rack, pinion, and ratchets on the left and to show the support means on the right side.

FIG. 9 is a similar view with the seat raised to its highest portion.

FIG. I0 is a fragmentary enlarged view in side elevation of the control lever clutched into one of its two pawl-ratchet positions, an alternative position being shown in broken lines. An inset shows the lever in section with the control pin in position corresponding to the application shown.

FIG. 11 is a view similar to FIG. 10 with the control lever clutched into its other pawl-ratchet position. An inset shows the lever in section similarly, to illustrate the other position of the control pin to conform.

FIG. 12 is a fragmentary view in perspective of the lower right hand comer of the device of FIG. 1.

FIG. 13 is a fragmentary view in perspective of a portion in a modified form ofa part of FIG. 12.

FIG. 14 is a horizontal plan view of the seat latching portion of the device.

FIG. 15 is an end view of the same.

FIG. 16 is a side view of the same.

FIG. 17 is an enlarged view in section taken along the line 17-17 in FIG. 6.

DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The device is provided with a base member 20 which may be platelike but may have some hollow spaces cut out to lighten the entire device. The base may be provided with a pair ofside flanges 21 and 22, and the base and flanges may be provided with suitable protective members such as rubber fingers or :suction cups 23 to engage the bottom and sidewalls of a bathtub 24 to hold the device in position without slipping, so as to prevent injury to the user and to prevent scratching the tub.

The base supports suitable bearing means, such as a pair of pillow blocks 25 and 26, which serve as journals for a laterally extending shaft 30. The shaft is provided outside each-of the pillow blocks 25 and 26 and adjacent its ends with a pair of pinion means such as pinion gears 31 and 32. At one end only of the shaft (or both ends, if desired) are provided first and second ratchet wheels 33 and 34, which are made so that the ratchet teeth of the gear 33 extend in the opposite direction from the ratchet teeth of the ratchet 34. (See FIGS. 7, l0, and 11.)

A support member 35 having a tubular socket 36 is secured to one end of the shaft 30 and removably receives a control lever 37 having a suitable knob 38 at its upper end. A shaped top edge 40 of the flange 21 and wing portion 41 of the support member 35 cooperate to provide stops, one set 42, 43 at the forward and the other set 44, 45 at the rear end of the stroke of the lever 37, which moves back and forth in a vertical plane as the user operates it. The lower end of the control lever 37 engages with a pin 46 of a pawl support means 47. The rotational position of the lever 37 determines the position of the pawl support means 47, which supports a pair of pawls 48 and 49. In one rotational position the lever 37 causes the pawl 48 to engage the ratchet wheel 33, and in the other position it causes the pawl 49 to engage the ratchet wheel 34. Only one ratchet wheel 33 or 34 can be engaged by a pawl at a time. As a result, if the ratchet 33 is engaged by the pawl 48, then movement back and forth of the control clutch lever 37 causes the shaft 30 to rotate counterclockwise as viewed from the right side as the pawl 48 is moved from front to back, and then the pawl 48 slides over the ratchet wheel 33 when the lever 37 is moved from back to front. Similarly, the pawl 49 engages the ratchet wheel 34 when the clutch handle is turned in the other position and does this during the back-to-front stroke to send the pinion in the opposite direction then, the return stroke again being an idle stroke but in the opposite direction from the idle stroke when the clutch is in the other rotational position.

The pinion means 31 and 32 each engage a respective rack 51 or 52, which is mounted to slide fore-and-aft across the base 20. The rearward motion of the racks 51, 52 is checked by stops 94, 95, which are attached to the base 20 at the location where the seat 90 is at rest on its lowered position. A keeper or guide 53 secured to base 20 may be provided for each rack 51 or 52 to help retain it in alignment in its foreand-aft position and to prevent its taking any pivotal movement around the pinion 31 or 32. It is apparent that when the clutch causes the pawl 48 to engage the ratchet 33, the racks 51 and 52 will be moved forwardly by operation of the lever 37; the racks 51 and 52 will be moved rearwardly by the lever 37 when the pawl means 49 engages the ratchet34.

Each rack 51 or 52 is provided at its rear end with an upstanding projection 55 or 56, and secured to this upstanding projection 55 or 56 by a pivot pin 57 or 58 is an arm 6! or 62. The arm 61 or 62 may comprise two parallel bars 63 and 64 shown in FIGS. 1, 5 and 6 or may comprise a single fore-andaft extending bar 43, shown in FIG. 12. The pivot pins 57, 58 are horizontal so the arms 61, 62 swing in a vertical plane. The distal or forward end of each arm 61 and 62 is provided, preferably, with three rollers 65, 66, and 67: a central roller 65 and two side rollers 66 and 67, the rollers being separate from each other by suitable stationary guide means 68 and 69 secured to the arm. The outside rollers 66 and 67 may be considered as a first roller means and the central roller 65 as a second roller means. The first roller means slide along as an inclined plane provided by a pair of tracks 71 and 72 secured to the base 20 and extending along the vertical plane in which the arm 61 and 62 extends, so that the arm 61 or 62 is raised up and down as its rollers 66 and 67 move fore-and-aft along these inclined plane tracks 71 and 72, The second roller means 65 is adapted to engage a support means 73 or 74, which causes the raising and lowering of the person in the tub.

The support means 73 and 74 may be pivotally supported by their respective inclined plane track means 71, 72 or it may have a separate pivotal support, but at any rate each of them is in the same vertical plane as its arm 51 and 52 and each of them has a rear cam face 75 which is engaged by the central roller 65. This cam face 75 is preferably provided at its lower end with an inset arcuate notch 76 enabling the upper position to be maintained without danger of collapse even when the support members 73, 74 are vertical.

The two support members 73 and 74 have upper ends 77 and 78 provided with extensions 79 and 80 which extend rearwardly when the device is fully elevated and which may extend somewhat inwardly if desired, according to the embodiments as shown. Both of these are secured to a cross rod 81. As shown in FIG. 13 this cross rod 81 may be integral with the two support members, or, as shown in FIG. 12, it may be a separate member securely bolted in each instance by two nuts 82 and 83 so that it will in either event be rigid with the support members 73 and 74.

An upper plate 84 or frame member is pivotally attached to this laterally extending rod 81 and the forward end of the plate 84 is supported by it. Along the rear edge, a piano hinge 85 secures this same upper plate 84 to a rear or auxiliary support member 86, which may be a platelike member provided with suitable strengthening flanges and provided, if desired, with cutouts to lighten the weight. The opposite end of the auxiliary support member 86 is secured, as by a second piano hinge 87, to the base 20. This rear or auxiliary support means 86 is an idling type member that swings up generally parallel to the path of the support arms 73, 74 and thereby enables the plate 84 to be raised and lowered while being maintained in a horizontal position parallel to the base 20.

On top of the plate 84 is a suitable swivel means 88 supporting a seat member 90. The swivel means may comprise three rollers 91 mounted evenly around a generally circular path, supported by the plate 84 and engaged by the seat 90. A suitable stop means 92 is provided to hold the seat when it reaches a correct fore-and-aft position; there may be another stop means, if desired, to hold it in side position, but generally it is preferred that there be none, so that there is no lock in the side position.

With the structure described, the person about to get into the tub 24 may have the plate 84 raised to the top so that the seat 90 is substantially level with or slightly above the top edge of the tub 24. This may be done by another person helping the prospective bather or it may be done by that person himself. in either instance, the lever 37 is turned to place the clutching means in the proper position for raising the seat 90. With the seat 90 swiveled to a position lateral to the tub 24, the user gets into the seat 90, swings his legs over the tub while swiveling the seat 90 until he reaches the fore-and-aft position where the seat 90 is stopped and lightly latched by the stop 92. Rotating the control clutch lever 37 to the proper position and then pumping the control lever 37 forward and back, the person is able to lower himself into the tub 24. If desired, however, an outside person may do this for him. Then, when he is in lowered position, he may take his bath. The water may or may not be in the tub before he lowers himselfinto it, this being no part of the invention itself. When the bath is finished and the person desires to get out of the tub, the control lever 37 is turned so that the proper pawl-ratchet engagement is made and then the control lever is again pumped either by the person himself or by a nurse or assistant to raise the upper plate 84 and therefore the seat 90 so that the person can be raised to the lever of the tub rim. The seat 90 can then be swiveled until his legs are outside the tub, and then he can be helped or can help himselfinto either a standing position or into and out of a wheelchair.

To those skilled in the art to which this invention relates, many changes in construction and widely differing embodiments and applications of the invention will suggest themselves without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The disclosures and the description herein are purely illustrative and are not intended be in any sense limiting.

I claim:

l. A self-assistance device enabling handicapped people to get into and out of a bathtub, including in combination:

a base adapted to rest on the bottom of the bathtub,

bearing means supported by said base,

a shaft supported by said bearing means and extending laterally above said base, said shaft having pinion means adjacent each end, and, adjacent one end. a pair of ratchet wheels of opposite tooth,

control clutch and lever means having pawl means for engagement with both said ratchet wheels, one at a time, selection means for selecting which ratchet wheel is to be engaged by pawl means, and rocking means for enabling the control clutch and lever means to be moved fore-andaft, whereby with a selected pawl means engaging its selected ratchet wheel the shaft is rotated in one direction during an active stroke and left there during an idle stroke in the opposite direction, while with the other selected pawl means, the active stroke is in the opposite direction and causes the shaft to move in the opposite direction,

a pair of rack means slidable fore-and-aft over said base, one said rack means being in engagement with each said pinion means,

an arm pivotally attached to one end of each of said rack means and extending over said rack means in the same general vertical plane, each said am being pivoted to enable swinging in that plane, said arm also having a distal end supporting first roller means and second roller means thereon,

a pair of vertically inclined track means each extending fore-and-aft and supported by said base, each engaging a first said roller means along an inclined plane,

a pair of support members, each pivotally mounted to said track means for swinging movement in a vertical plane and each having a cam surface engaged by a said second roller means,

whereby operation of said control clutch means causes said pinion means to move said rack means fore or aft, depending upon which ratchet means is in engagement with a said pawl means, thereby causing said arms move fore or aft in the same direction as said rack means, so that their said first roller means move up said inclined planes of said track means and their said second roller means thereupon elevate or lower said support members, depending on whether said arms are moving fore or aft,

a cross rod tightly secured to the upper ends of both said support members and joining them rigidly,

an upper plate supported pivotally at one end by said cross rod,

auxiliary support means hinged at one extremity to said base and at the other extremity to said upper plate, and

a seat member swivel-mounted to said upper plate, whereby said seat member is raised and lowered by raising and lowering said support members and said seat member is kept parallel to said base during said raising and lowering.

2. The device of claim 1 wherein said base is provided with protective means insuring against scratching the tub and enabling better retention of the device in said tub.

3. The device of claim 1 having guide means for each said rack means, said guide means being secured to said base.

, 4. The device of claim 1 wherein said first roller means comholdin the seat at its uppermost position.

6. T e device of claim 1 wherein said seat member is provided with stop means for providing a light latching action when said seat member is fore-and-aft relative to said foreand-aft position of said base member.

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US1934117 *May 19, 1932Nov 7, 1933Albert B ChristensenInvalid handling appliance for bathtubs
US2361474 *Apr 17, 1943Oct 31, 1944Gross John NPatient handling means for bathtubs
US2494224 *Jul 23, 1947Jan 10, 1950Robert E BensonTesting vat elevator
US2672620 *Feb 11, 1952Mar 23, 1954Dewey C RickenbackerPatient handling device for bathtubs
US2713688 *Jan 21, 1953Jul 26, 1955Johnson Clarence VernePatient lifter and bedpan holder
US2772721 *Nov 9, 1954Dec 4, 1956Baird Saunders HarrySeat unit for bathtubs
US3484874 *Sep 30, 1966Dec 23, 1969Frank J Bickenheuser JrBed pan device
*DE291144A Title not available
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US4034426 *Sep 20, 1976Jul 12, 1977Hardwick Charles WBath tub lift chair apparatus
US4091478 *Feb 25, 1977May 30, 1978Hardwick Charles WBath tub lift chair apparatus
US4128904 *May 31, 1977Dec 12, 1978Helge NormanBath equipment for disabled persons
US4941218 *Feb 3, 1989Jul 17, 1990Mccartney Clyde BSeat structure for easy access to bathtubs
US5007121 *May 29, 1990Apr 16, 1991Mceathron Robert JHydraulic lift for bathtubs
US5097542 *May 16, 1990Mar 24, 1992Roesler Gary MBathing chair
US5797149 *Feb 20, 1996Aug 25, 1998Mustarde; John ClarkeFor assisting ingress and egress from a bath
EP0572351A1 *May 11, 1993Dec 1, 1993Arthur Schmid AGBath lift
Classifications
U.S. Classification4/562.1
International ClassificationA61G7/10
Cooperative ClassificationA61G7/1059, A61G7/1003, A61G7/1076, A61G7/1017
European ClassificationA61G7/10N4, A61G7/10T10, A61G7/10A2