US 3664333 A
A massage table which features a traversing roller or series of rollers to follow the spinal column from the lower back to the neck region. The massage roller or rollers follow a contoured cam means which produce the desired rise and fall at the various regions of the back. The massage roller is also resiliently cushioned. The machine is self-reversing.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Hill [451 May 23, 1972  MASSAGE TABLE 2,874,689 2/ 1959 Gavelek 1 28/33 3,523,524 8/1970 Wilson 128/58  Inventor: Menno E. Hill, 806 Harbor Island, Clearwater, Fla. 33515 Primary ExaminerL. W. Trapp  Filed: Feb. 8, 1971 AttorneyB. P. F1shburne,.lr.  Appl. No.: 113,308  ABSTRACT A massage table which features a traversing roller or series of rollers to follow the spinal column from the lower back to the [521 :LS. Cl ..128/52, 128/57 neck region The massage roller or rollers follow a contoured  If. C]. cam means which produce the desired rise and at the vari  Field of Search ..128/51, 52, 33, 70, 71, 58 (ms regions f the back The massage roller is also resiliently cushioned. The machine is self-reversing.
 References Cited 14 Claims, 12 Drawing Figures UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,660,999 12/1953 Thornton ..128/33 PATENTEDMAY 2 3 I972 SHEEP 3 [IF 3 INVENTOR MENNO E, HILL BY gaz wwwa ATTORNEY MASSAGE TABLE The prior art contains a number of teachings pertaining to massage tables and couches, including arrangements of rotating, undulating and reciprocating rollers to massage the back or other areas of the body requiring treatment. Such prior art machines, while useful, have not had the ability to apply selective pressure and massage action to different regions of the spinal column or to follow the natural curvature of the spinal column and therefore have not been totally effective. Additionally, the prior art mechanisms have generally tended to be complex and heavy and therefore excessively costly in construction and not entirely practical.
With the above in mind, it is the objective of this invention to provide a back massage apparatus which is practical and economical in construction and which has the capability of effectively massaging the spinal column from the lower region to the neck with a selective pressure through a massage roller having the capability of following the natural curvatures of the spine. Additionally, the pressure exerted by the massage roller is adjustable and variable through a wide range and the traversing massage roller is automatically reversing when it reaches the end of its travel.
Other features and advantages of the invention will be apparent during the course of the following description.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWING FIGURES FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a massage table embodying the invention.
FIG. 2 is a plan view of the table with the resilient covering removed.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary vertical section taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 1.
' FIG. 4 is a transverse vertical section taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a similar section taken on line 5-5 of FIG. 3.
FIGS. 6a, 6b and 6c are diagrammatic views showing driving and reversing means for the massage roller.
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary plan view of the massage roller carriage and driving means taken substantially on line 7-7 of FIG. 3.
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary longitudinal vertical section, similar to FIG. 3, showing a modification of the invention.
FIG. 9 is a fragmentary transverse vertical section taken on line 9-9 ofFIG. 8.
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary vertical section showing cam adjusting means.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring to the drawings in detail wherein like numerals designate like parts and referring first to FIGS. 1 through 7 showing a first embodiment of the invention, the numeral designates generally a massage table of sufficient size to support an adult patient lying on his or her back, the table including a stiff plywood top wall 21 having a longitudinal slot 22 to allow movement of the massage roller 23 lengthwise of the table along the spinal column. The roller 23 is adapted to traverse the spinal column from the small of the back through the neck area, as will be fully described. The body of the table 20 is sufficiently deep beneath the top wall 21 to house the various components of the massage apparatus. The top of the table is covered by a resilient cushion or pad 24 of foam rubber or the like covered with a thin skin of vinyl for ease of cleaning. One edge of the pad 24 may be free of attachment to the table top to facilitate lifting the pad, if required.
Within the body of the table 20 lengthwise thereof and midway between its sides, FIG. 2, is a rigid horizontal longitudinal trackway 25 including an upper pair of laterally spaced rails 26 and vertical guide flanges 27 and a lower reduced width rail 28 having vertical side walls 29, as best shown in FIG. 4.
A massage roller carriage 30 of scissors-like formation operates on the trackway 25 and this carriage comprises a pair of arms 31 arranged closely on opposite sides of the massage roller 23, FIG. 5, and carrying the massage roller through a transverse horizontal shaft 32 and suitable ball bearings 33. The massage roller is preferably formed of polyurethane having a durometer of about 30-40, although this may be varied in some cases. The roller 23 projects upwardly through the slot 22 and engages the pad 24 directly beneath the spinal column, as shown in the drawings. The lower ends of the diagonal arms 31 are connected with a cross member or axle 34 having wheels 35 joumaled thereon and rolling on the spaced rails 26 of the trackway. The axle 34 has an intermediate rectangular block portion 36 between the arms 31, FIG. 4, for a purpose to be described.
The carriage 30 further comprises another rigid arm 37 intersecting and crossing the arms 31 and disposed midway therebetween and pivotally connected with the arms 31 for scissors-like movement by a pivot element 38 carrying spacer sleeves 39 between the arms 31. The lower end of the single arm 37 carries a pair of cam follower wheels 40 on opposite sides thereof which roll on individually longitudinally adjustable cam plates 41 and 41'. These cam plates are in side-by-side arrangement, FIG. 4, resting on the lower rail 28. Cam plate 41' has a lobe 42 for the small of the back and a main back portion 43. The other cam plate 41 has a lobe 44 for the neck area and a main back portion identical to the portion 43'. To adjust for individual spines, the cam plates 41 and 41 are adjusted longitudinally along the rail 28. In some cases, a single contoured cam plate may be used having a personalized shape instead of two cam plates.
The upper end of arm 37 is pivotally secured at 45 to the yoke 46 of a vertical threaded rod 47 extending through an opening in the block 36. Compression springs 48 and 48 surround the rod 47 with their lower ends resting on the block 36 and their top ends engaging a spring tension adjusting nut 49. This nut regulates the amount of force exerted on the spine by the massage roller 23. Another adjusting nut 49' on the lower end of rod 47 regulates the elevation or vertical travel of the massage roller by adjusting the rod 47 upwardly or downwardly. The pressure on the spine is also regulated by changing the hardness of the roller 23. The engagement of the wheels 40 with cam plates 41 and 41' cause the massage roller to rise and fall so as to follow the natural curvature of the spine.
The means to move the carriage 30 on the trackway 25 comprises a belt 50 engaging a sheave 51 on one end wall 52 of the table 20 and also engaging a drive pulley 53 driven by a motor 54 and speed reducer 55 on the other end wall 56 of the table. The ends of the belt 50 are connected adjustably by a pair of turnbuckles 57 and connectors or hooks 58, FIG. 7, attached to the carriage arm 37 on opposite sides of the pivot element 38. As shown in FIGS. 3 and 4, the top run of the belt 50 is approximately at the elevation of the pivot 38 and the lower run of the belt is well below this pivot and spaced from one side of the rod 47 and spring 48 and maintained in this position for smooth running without interference. As the entire carriage 30 traverses the trackway 25 in opposite directions, the turnbuckles 57 and elements 58 remain with the upper run of the belt 50 and reverse their travel with the carriage 30 before reaching either sheave 51 or 53.
Means to automatically reverse the travel of the carriage 30 and carriage drive motor 54 is provided in the form of a flexible cord 59 anchored to the upper run of the carriage drive belt 50 at 60 and 61. The cord 59 engages slidably through an aperture in the pivoted actuator 62 of a reversing switch 63, FIG. 2. The element 59 contains a pair of spaced knots 64 on opposite sides of the actuator 62 and the size of these knots prevents them from passing through the aperture of the pivoted actuator 62. Therefore, when the belt 50 is pulling the carriage 30 in either direction, one knot 64 will strike the actuator 62 and pivot the same in one direction or the other, FIG. 6a or FIG. 60, operating switch 63 to reverse the drive motor 54 and change the direction of travel of the carriage 30 and massage roller 23. In this manner, the carriage 30 and massage roller are caused to travel back and forth longitudinally of the table 20 beneath the pad 24 for a sufficient distance to enable the roller 23 to massage the spine completely from the small of the back to the neck. The motor 54 may be turned off and on by a manual switch 65 conveniently located on the table 20.
FIGS. 8-10 of the drawings show a modification of the invention which possesses the same ability to massage the spinal column throughout its length with a selective and variable pressure through resilient camming means and by the use of a single massage roller or several rollers acting in concert, if preferred.
In FIGS. 8, 9 and 10, the massage table includes a top wall 66 having a longitudinal slot 67 to accommodate one, two or three massage rollers 68, only one such roller being illustrated by the drawings. The table top is equipped with the same resilient pad 24, previously described.
A guideway or trough 69 for the massage roller 68, or rollers, is fixedly mounted beneath the slot 67 and contains a fixed stabilizing plate 70 having a slot 71 to receive and stabil ize plate cam sections 72, 73 and 74 for the small of the back, main back portion and neck area, respectively. These three cam sections are individually formed and the sections 73 and 74 are pivotally linked at 75 while the section 72 has a pivotal slotted connection at 76 with the intermediate cam section 73, whereby the section 72 may have limited longitudinal adjustment relative to the other two cam sections. This will be further described.
The entire cam structure is floatingly supported on adjustable tension riser springs 77 or combinations of springs. A pair of these springs engages the bottom of each cam section 72, 73 and 74, FIG. 8. The springs are mounted in housings 78 fixed to the bottom of guideway 69. The tops of the springs project through openings 79 in the bottom wall 80 and engage and support the three cam sections. The springs are elevated and lowered by screw shafts 81 carrying drive pulleys 82 and engaging threaded nuts 82 pressed into the housings 78. Just above the nuts 82', each screw shaft carries a crosspin 81 supporting a washer 83 against which the bottom of the spring 77 is seated. With this arrangement, each spring can be elevated or lowered and therefore compressed by turning its screw shaft 81. Alternatively, a spring washer may be swiveled to the upper end of each screw shaft, free to hold position when the screw shaft is turned. Each spring is adjusted individually by a hand wheel 84 on one side wall of the table operating a pulley 85 drivingly connected with one pulley 82 through a cord 86 and guide sheave 87. In this manner, the cam sections may be individually raised and lowered at their ends and a greater or lesser massage pressure through the roller 68 may be exerted against the spine.
The means to adjust the cam section 72 longitudinally at the small of the back comprises a turnbuckler link 88 shown in FIG. 10 having one end secured at 89 to the cam section 72 and its other end swiveled to a bracket 90 on one end wall 91 of the massage table. The turnbuckle body has an integral pulley 92 driven by a cord 93 operated from one of the pulleys 85 with suitable intervening cord guides.
The massage roll 68 includes an aluminum tube hub 94 having an outer covering or body of suitable hardness formed of polyurethane. The massage roller has a central annular groove containing a timing gear 95 whose teeth mesh with a timing gear drive belt 96, driven substantially in the same manner shown in the prior embodiment for the drive of the belt 50 and having substantially similar reversing means to the means illustrated in FIGS. 6a through 60. The upper run of the timing belt 96 rides across the top edge of the sectional cam, as shown in FIGS. 8 and 9. The belt 96 imparts rotation to the massage roller 68 while traversing the same back and forth lengthwise of the table under the pad 24 in substantially the same mode of operation described for the roller 23 of the previous embodiment.
One advantage of the construction in FIGS. 8 through 10 is that the scissor carriage is eliminated without loss of its basic function, namely, to apply a controllable resilient massage pressure to the spinal column along its full length and to cause the massage roller to follow the natural spinecurvature by means of a cam. In this sense, the modified structure is somewhat simpler although both forms of the invention have their own virtues.
It should be mentioned that a fixed pin 97, FIG. 8, locks the cam section 73 against endwise movement without interfering with the endwise adjustment of cam section 72.
Instead of one roller 68, one or two more massage rollers may be dropped into place on the belt 96 substantially at the points designated X and Y in the drawings. The massage rollers are freely disposed on the belt and may be dropped into place or removed by simply lifting the pad 24. If plural massage rollers are utilized in this manner, their individual durometers may be varied over the approximate range of 20 to 50.
Also, in some cases, the riser springs 77 and adjusting means may be eliminated and the cam sections simply shimmed up to the desired height. In such case, a softer message roller or rollers will be used to compensate for the loss of spring support.
It is to be understood that the forms of the invention herewith shown and described are to be taken as preferred examples of the same, and that various changes in the shape, size and arrangement of parts may be resorted to, without departing from the spirit of the invention or scope of the subjoined claims.
1. A spinal message apparatus comprising a table-like support for a patient, said table having a longitudinal slot in its top, a massage roller adapted to move longitudinally through the slot while projecting above the table top and engaging the spine of the patient lying on the table, means driving the massage roller back and forth along the slot for a sufficient distance to enable the roller to engage the spine from the small of the back to the neck region, and resilient camming means acting on the massage roller during its back and forth movement and causing the massage roller to exert a substantially constant pressure to the spine while following substantially the natural curvature of the spine.
2. The structure of claim 1, and means to adjust the resilient camming means so that the degree of said constant pressure can be regulated.
3. The structure of claim 2, and a resilient compressible pad on the top of the table covering said slot and massage roller.
4. The structure of claim 1, and said means driving the massage roller comprising a carriage for said roller, a trackway for the carriage including a camming surface operable through the carriage to cause rising and falling of the massage roller corresponding to the natural curves in the spinal column, and power means to drive the carriage longitudinally of said slot and to reverse the movement of the carriage automatically.
5. The structure of claim 4, and said carriage including pivotal scissor arms, the massage roller bodily supported on one arm of the carriage, cam follower means on the other arm of the carriage, and adjustable resilient means interconnecting the carriage arms and enabling the massage roller to exert an adjustable yielding pressure to the spine at all points therealong.
6. The structure of claim 4, and said power means including an endless flexible drive element connected with the carriage, a motor means connected with the drive element to operate it, a reversing switch for the motor means, and means interconnecting the reversing switch and drive element including a lost motion connection.
7. The structure of claim 6, and the last-named means including a pivoted operator for said switch having an aperture, a cord having its ends connected with the flexible drive element and having spaced enlargements on opposite sides of the pivoted operator, said cord slidable through said aperture and said enlargements resisting passage through the aperture and thereby causing turning of the switch operator.
8. The structure of claim 5, and said trackway having a pair of spaced rails, a pair of rollers on one arm of the carriage engaging said rails, and said cam follower means comprising at least one roller on the other arm of the carriage engaging the following said camming surface.
9. The structure of claim 1, and said means driving the massage roller including a timing gear integral with the massage roller, and a driven flexible timing belt having teeth meshing with said timing gear.
10. The structure of claim 9, and said resilient camming means including a sectional contoured plate cam underlying said belt and roller, and adjustable resilient supports individual to the sections of the plate cam.
11. The structure of claim 10, and the adjustable resilient supports comprising a series of springs underlying the sections of the plate cam, and manually operable means to raise and lower the springs and thereby adjust their tension.
12. The structure of claim 11, and said plate cam sections being articulated and at least one section adjustable longitudinally with respect to the other sections, and manually operable means to adjust said one section longitudinally.
13. The structure of claim 9, and said massage roller freely disposed within said slot of the table top and resting freely on the top run of the timing belt, the latter sliding on the upper contoured edges of a sectional cam underlying the timing belt, the arrangement being such that additional massage rollers may be placed upon the timing belt and within said slot in spaced relation for massaging a patients spine at plural spaced points of contact with the plural massage rollers traversing the spinal column along substantially its entire length.
14. The structure of claim 1, and said resilient camming means including a pair of side-by-side longitudinally adjustable cam plates having contoured lobes, said means driving the massage roller comprising a carriage having follower rollers riding on the cam plates.