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Publication numberUS3679257 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 25, 1972
Filing dateMay 15, 1970
Priority dateMay 15, 1970
Publication numberUS 3679257 A, US 3679257A, US-A-3679257, US3679257 A, US3679257A
InventorsRoy A Jacuzzi, Kenneth A Jacuzzi
Original AssigneeJacuzzi Research Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Foldable wheel chair
US 3679257 A
A favorable three wheeled wheelchair with solid seat and back, the back being hinged for folding down upon the seat, while the side wheel and front wheel assemblies are hingedly secured for folding in under the seat, the entire wheel chair in its folded condition being of light weight and capable of storage in the trunk of a car.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

[451 July 25,1972

United States Patent Jacuzzi et a1.


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[52] LS. 297/54, 297/417, Prinwry Exanyiner-Francis K Zugel Atmrney-Edward Brosler .A47c 4/20 .297/D1G. 4, 42, 37, 417, 30, 297/16, 131, 132, 54; 280/36 R, 39

[57] ABSTRACT A favorable three wheeled wheelchair with solid seat and [58] Field ofSearch..................

back, the back being hinged for folding down upon the seat, Rem-em cued while the side wheel and front wheel assemblies are hingedly secured for folding in under the seat, the entire wheel chair in its folded condition being of light weight and capable of storage in the trunk of a car,

UNITEDSTATESPATENTS 280/39 ....280/36 Willis.......................................280/39 3 Claims, 17 Drawing Figures L a t e v r H I F 827 29 998 111 Ill 2 3 .11


. 8- KENNETH 4. JAOUZZ/ THE/R ATTORNEY mmrenmzsmz 3.679.257



SHEEI k 0F 5 INVENTORS R0) 44- J46UZZ/ KENNETH A. JACUZZ/ THE/R ATTURNFY F OLDABLE WHEEL CHAIR Our invention relates to wheelchairs and more particularly to wheelchairs of the foldable type.

Wheelchairs as currently available, have foldable seats and backs of canvas 01' other soft flexible material, to permit of the chair being folded by bringing the side wheel assemblies and pertinent frame sections toward each other.

Aside from the fact that a seat and back of soft foldable material, is not the most comfortable support for an individual, and particularly for one who is sick or maimed and requires the use of such chair, but the desired support, one fails to derive from such material, especially in the lower back region, is conducive to encouraging deformation and accompanying disabilities of the spine.

Also the construction of such conventional type wheelchair, results in a chair of substantial bulk, which, in its strippeddown condition, may weigh on the order of twenty eight pounds, but which, with the addition of essential and desirable appurtenances, may reach a weight of around fifty two pounds. When folded, such a chair occupies a substantial volume, making it inconvenient, if not impossible, to store in the trunk of a car.

Another drawback to the above type of wheelchair, is the fact that the foot rests interfere with the ability of the occupant to transfer himself from the chair to crutches, for they preclude positioning the crutch tips sufficiently close, to facilitate shifting of the body from the chair to the crutches.

The conventional design of such wheelchair further limits its desirable field of usefulness. Patients incapable of walking, and who may desire to transfer themselves from a bed or toilet seat to a wheelchair, and vice versa, find it necessary to rely on someone to carry them from one position of rest to the other, a factor which often dramatically impresses upon the patient, his sense of helplessness, and with a resulting demoralizing effect.

Aside from the foregoing, the conventional wheelchair lacks features of safety and other functional advantages to be found in the wheelchair of the present invention, as will be brought out in the subsequent description of the invention.

Among the objects ofour invention are:

I. To provide a novel and improved wheelchair;

2. To provide a novel and improved wheelchair of the foldable type;

3. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair, which shall provide firm and comfortable support to the occupant;

4. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair, which shall facilitate the self-transfer of a patient thereto, from a different location of rest, such as a bed, toilet seat or the like;

5. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair with built in adjustable arm rests;

6. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair of less than half the weight of a comparable wheelchair of conventional design, and one which is capable of being folded to the approximate size of a suitcase;

7. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair, which shall have a shorter turning radius than one of conventional design, and yet one which will be very stable;

8. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair having a solid seat and back rest;

9. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair having a solid back rest which is adjustable to the comfort of the patient;

10. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair having an inside frame, thus reducing overall dimensions and permitting the occupant to approach in closer contact with his immediate surroundings, and therefore enabling a more natural and direct involvement in relation to his environment;

I I. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair, involving many adjustments to fit the chair to the occupant;

12. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair which automatically and securely locks itself in its open usable condition;

l3. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair having symmetrically applied braking, controllable from a single station; and

14. To provide a novel and improved foldable wheelchair, which will afford an improved physical as well as psychological benefit to the patient.

Additional objects of our invention will be brought out in the following description of a preferred embodiment of the same, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings wherein,

FIG. 1 is a three dimensional view of a wheelchair incorporating the features of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a sectional view in elevation through the wheelchair of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary front view in elevation of the wheelchair of FIG. I;

FIG. 4 is a front elevational view of the wheelchair of FIG. 3, depicting the same in its folded condition;

FIG. 5 is a view in elevation of an automatic locking mechanism associated with each of the side wheel assemblies of the wheelchair;

FIG. 6 is a plan view of the locking assembly of FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a fragmentary view partly in section, of a hinge locking assembly incorporated in a foldable front leg assembly of the wheelchair, the hinge locking assembly means being illustrated in its open condition;

FIG. 8 is a corresponding view of the hinge locking assembly of FIG. 7, but depicting the same in its closed locking condition;

FIG. 9 is an elevational view in section through one of two adjustable arm rests assemblies incorporated in the wheelchair of the present invention;

FIG. 9a is a view depicting a modified arm rest assembly;

FIG. 10 is a three dimensional view depicting a back rest adjustment feature of the present invention;

FIG. II is a side view in elevation of the back rest adjustment of FIG. 10;

FIG. 12 is a rear view in elevation of the back rest adjustment ofFIG. 11;

FIG. 13 is a view illustrating a braking system incorporated in the wheelchair of the present invention;

FIG. 14 is a view illustrating a detail of the brake assembly of the braking system of FIG. 13;

FIG. 15 is a fragmentary view, with cover removed, depicting a modification of the braking system of FIG. 13; and

FIG. 16 is a view similar to FIG. 15 with the cover applied.

Referring to the drawings for details of our invention in its preferred form, the wheelchair is constructed upon an inside frame assembly 1 involving a relatively heavy longitudinal beam 3 and a pair of parallel spaced transverse members 5, 7, extending a like distance to either side of the longitudinal beam, and connected by end members 9. This frame provides a foundation for a solid, comfortable seat assembly 11. The end portions of the parallel transverse members may be tilted upward slightly if desired, to support a contour to such seat assembly.

Depending from each end of the frame assembly, and included as a part thereof, are a pair of bracket arms 13, said bracket arms at their free ends having aligned openings for receiving a hinge pin 17 to hingedly secure thereto a side wheel assembly 21.

Such side wheel assembly, in the specific form illustrated, includes an inverted A-frame 23 having a hub 25 at its peak and legs 27 at its opposite end connected by a cross bar 29, the hub for the mounting of a wheel 30, and the legs, having aligned openings, in alignment with the openings in the proximate bracket arms 13 to receive pin 17, whereby to hingedly mount the wheel assembly.

Such manner of mounting each wheel assembly permits of the same being folded in under the seat; and to enable the folding of such wheel assemblies into substantially parallel planes, the bracket arms 13 at one end of the frame are purposely made longer than at the other end, by an amount substantially equal to the thickness of a wheel assembly. The

overall length of the A-frames will be in reverse relationship, to assure that the height of the wheel hubs 25 above the floor, in the unfolded position of the wheel assemblies, will be the same. Expressed otherwise, the total length of each A-frame with its associated bracket arms is the same.

It is essential that these wheel assemblies, in their unfolded functional positions, be stabilized against accidentally collapsing to their folding positions while the chair is occupied, and toward this end, not only is each A-frame designed to locate the associated wheel slightly outboard of the hinge axis of the A-frame, but means are provided for automatically locking such wheel assemblies in their unfolded outboard positions, upon reaching such positions.

Such locking means for each wheel assembly, includes a pair of lugs 35 extending upwardly from the cross bar 29 of each A-frame, and in substantially the plane of said A-frame, such lugs being of a length to reach the plane of the main frame 1, when the wheel assembly is in its unfolded functional position. These lugs are components of a latching mechanism 37 which functions to stabilize the wheel assembly in its functional position, as the wheel assembly approaches such positron.

Such latching mechanism, in addition to the lugs, includes a generally U-shape frame 39, pivotally mounted on a cross rod 41 supported between the transverse members and 7 of the main frame, such U-shaped frame involving spaced members 43 connected by a cross member 45, with lug receiving rings 47 along such cross member. To assure proper alignment between the lugs 35 and the lug receiving rings, the position of the latching frame 39 on the cross rod on which it is pivotally secured, is stabilized by spacers 51.

Such latching becomes automatic, for the lugs as they ap proach their final positions, will engage the latching frame in advance of the openings, and gradually elevate the frame about its pivotal axis until the openings are reached, at which time the frame will drop into locking position. Positive action in this direction may be assured, by biasing the latching frame toward the locking position, through the application of a biasing spring 53, under tension between the latching frame member and the cross bar 29 ofthe proximate A-frame.

To subsequently unlock the latching mechanism, when it is desired to release the wheel assembly for folding the same to its position beneath the seat, a lift handle 57 may be applied to the latching frame to terminate adjacent the front edge of the seat, where it will be conveniently accessible for lifting the frame sufficiently to free the lugs and permit folding under of the associated wheel assembly.

Front support for the chair is provided by a front leg, which is formed of an integral extension 61 of the main longitudinal beam 3 of the main frame, or a corresponding portion welded thereto, which extends downwardly in a forward direction, and to which is hingedly secured, preferably by a side hinge 62, a lower leg portion 63, which in turn, carries a swivel bracket 65 on its rear surface, for swivel mounting of a supporting steering wheel 67.

The hinge mounting of the lower portion of the front leg to the upper portion, includes a locking arrangement 69 for stabilizing such leg in its unfolded functional position.

Such locking means includes the provision of a longitudinal slot 7ladjacent the lower end of the upper portion of the front leg, through which a clamping screw 73 passes for threaded connection to a sleeve 75, which slideably fits the interior of both leg portions. With this sleeve raised to a position entirely within the upper portion of the front leg, the lower portion is free to be folded under.

With the lower portion of the leg in alignment with the upper portion, and the sleeve lowered to partially enter the lower portion, the leg will be stabilized. By tightening the bolt, the sleeve can be locked in any prevailing position against accidental displacement from such position.

While the lower leg portion may be hinged to the upper portion along their contiguous rear edge, we prefer locating the hinge along adjacent side edges, the lower half of the hinge forming one side of a collar encircling the upper end of the lower leg portion and extending thereabove to form a pocket adapted to snugly receive the lower end of the upper portion and contribute toward stabilizing the same in its locked condition besides enhancing its appearance.

At the lower end of the front leg, foot rests 81 are provided, one to each side of the leg. Such foot rests are components of foot rest assembly, which includes a collar 83 adapted to slideably fit the front leg, and to which the foot rests are connected by friction hinges, enabling the foot rests to be folded up against the leg and retained in such position by the frictional character of the hinges, and without the necessity of resorting to any supplemental means for holding the foot rests in their up positions.

The seat assembly 11 may be of fiber glass or other substantially rigid material, and may be fabricated to include a main center panel 87 and flanking side panels 89, the center panel preferably being ribbed transversely to minimize sliding of an occupant, in addition to providing ventilation and improved appearance. Ventilation may further be enhanced by perforating the center panel.

In cooperation with such seat assembly, is a back rest assembly 93, including a back rest of fiber glass or other substantially rigid material, formed to include a center panel bordered on each side by a wing panel 97 at a slight forward angle to the plane of the center panel, to give the back rest a sectional contour which would be substantially arcuate.

Supporting the back rest are a pair of parallel spaced mounting brackets 101, each formed of a length of angle iron extending below the lower edge of the rest. At a point approaching the lower edge of the back rest, each angle iron bracket is pivotally secured to a rear extension 103 of the main frame, and this permits of angular adjustment of the back rest to satisfy the comfort requirements of the occupant.

To make such adjustments, each rear extension is of sufficient width to convert the same for use as an index plate by providing a plurality of holes 105 therein along an arc traversed by a point on the lower end of the proximate back rest bracket 101, and at this location on each bracket, the bracket may be formed with an offset housing 107 having a hole therein to receive one end of a locking pin 109, which is of sufficient length to enter an index hole in the proximate extension 103.

Each pin, within its housing, is biased to its locking position by a compression spring 1 l 1, whereby, to release the back rest for adjustment or folding of the chair, both pins must be simultaneously withdrawn from their engagement with holes 105.

One way to effect this is to connect the tail ends of these pins by a chain 113, whereby pressure against the chain will result in simultaneous pull on the locking pins to effect disengagement thereof from the holes 105 in which they may be located.

Hand holes may be formed in the upper exposed corner of each wing panel of the back rest, to provide hand grips at the upper edges of such panels, but we prefer to form such handgrips by notching the upper exposed corner of each wing panel and anchoring therein a preformed hand-grip of rod material. By sloping the upper edge of each wing panel and conforming the handgrips thereto, the resulting handgrips will slope downward slightly, to provide a comfortable grip by an attendant in controlling movement of the chair, when the same is not being maneuvered by the occupant.

For the additional comfort of the occupant, the chair is provided with arm rest assemblies 127, each including an arm rest assembly 128 which, in the present embodiment, is not only adjustable to height, but may be lowered into the plane of the proximate side panel of the seat assembly, to be out of the way. This latter feature removes an obstacle which formerly precluded a patient from transferring himself from the chair to a toilet, or from a bed to the chair, etc., thus materially expanding the capabilities of the user, with a corresponding enhancement of his moral.

With this in mind, each side panel 89 of the seat assembly is formed with a cut-out 129 of the size and shape of an arm rest, to receive such arm rest in its lowermost position where it will blend in with the seat. In providing such cut-out, the longitudinal edge is provided with an integral downwardly directed flange 130 for mounting of an arm rest assembly.

Each arm rest assembly includes a pair of cross arms 131, 133 pivotally secured at their point of intersection, one arm being pivotally attached at its lower end to a point on a flat bar 135, while the other cross arm, at its lower end, is slidably af fixed to the same member, by a stud 137 passing through a slot 139 in such member, the flat bar 135, in turn, being attached to the flange 130.

The cross arm 133, at its upper end is pivotally secured to a foundation component 143 of the arm rest, which is covered by a suitable pad 145 for the comfort of the user.

The foundation component is formed with a slot 147 to slideably receive a stud 149 carried by the first cross arm 131 at its upper end, the length of both slots 139 and 147 being sufficient to permit lowering of the arm rests into substantially the plane of the seat.

To permit of elevational adjustment of each arm rest between its uppermost position and its out-of-the-way position, one or more notches 150 may be included in the upper surface of the slot in the arm rest foundation component, to receive the stud and retain the arm rest at the elevational adjustment determined by the notch selected. To change the prevailing adjustment, one merely lifts the front end of the arm rest to free the stud from the notch in which it may be disposed, following which a new adjustment may be effected.

A modified arm rest assembly is illustrated in FIG. 9a, wherein an arm rest 151 is hingedly mounted by means of a hinge 152, to a panel 97 of the back rest assembly, the arm rest extending rearwardly beyond the hinge to engage a stop 153 when the arm rest is in its horizontal functional position. When so installed, the arm rest can be raised into the approximate plane of the adjacent back rest panel to permit an individual to slide sideways from the seat or to enter the seat in like manner. It is understood that such arm rest assembly will be provided at each side ofthe chair.

Of substantial importance to the safety and well being of the user of a wheel chair, is the braking system, for such user is likely to be in a weakened condition, or incapacited, or seriously handicapped in other respects, and the braking system accordingly must be conveniently accessible and controllable with a minimum of effort. Also, by reason of the fact that no two occupants or users of the wheelchair are likely to have identical physical limitations, the braking controls must be capable of being shifted from one location to another on the wheelchair, whereby the same may be actuated by one hand or a foot, as the circumstances may require.

The system of the present invention provides for just such contingencies, and involves a cable actuated brake assembly 155 for each side wheel of the chair, with both brake assemblies controllable simultaneously from a common control station, the location of which may be changed to suit the requirements of the occupant of the chair.

Each brake assembly comprises a disc brake 157 mounted on and affixed to the hub of a wheel, adjacent the inner side of the wheel; and cooperatively supported for engagement with the edge of the disc is a brake shoe 159 having a gripping pad of rubber or like material. The cable actuated mechanism 161 for controlling operation of the brake shoe with respect to the disc, may be the same as that employed at present in braking systems used on bicycles, and accordingly need not be described in detail except to note that it is anchored to the proximate A-frame.

The control mechanism 164 involves a housing 165 and a control lever 169 pivotally secured at one end within the housing'. A cable 171 from each of the brake assemblies enters the housing where both cables are anchored to a common hole 173 in the lever off-set with respect to the pivot point, whereby, upon depressing the lever, tension will be imparted to both cables simultaneously, thus to simultaneously and to the same degree, actuate both brake assemblies.

The housing may be provided with a mounting bracket having spaced mounting holes, and by locating similarly spaced mounting holes at various critical points about the chair structure where control of braking may be desired, to meet the requirements of individuals who might occupy the chair, the control station may be changed from one position to another as required.

A modified control mechanism 179 for the brake assemblies is depicted in FIGS. 15 and 16, wherein is provided an automatic latching mechanism for holding the brakes in engage ment, thus eliminating the necessity for the occupant to maintain pressure upon the brake lever during braking.

In this modified form of control mechanism, the lever 181 is formed with a notch 183 in that end thereof which is enclosed in the housing, while a latch lever 185 pivotally secured within the housing, is provided at its free end with a stud 187 adapted to normally rest on an edge of the notch adjacent the proximate end of the lever, in which position it is biased by a spring 189. Upon depression of the lever to set the brakes, the stud will ride out of the notch to permit the latch lever to'drop in behind the end of the control lever and latch the control lever in its depressed position to maintain braking.

In order thereafter to release the brakes when desired, the latching lever must be lifted sufficiently to free the control lever and permit it to restore itself to its prior position, which of course is automatically controlled from the brake assembly. Such lifting of the latching lever is accomplished by extending the stud 187 through an arcuate slot 191 in a side wall of the housing, whereby a lifting force against the exposed end of the stud may be applied.

The braking system as described, lends itself to operation by one hand or a foot, and will assure simultaneous and like actuation of both brake assemblies, whereby tragic consequences arising from an unequal actuation of the brake assemblies will be avoided.

From the foregoing description of our invention, it will be apparent that the same fulfills all the objects attributed thereto, and while we have illustrated and described the same in its preferred form and in considerable detail, the invention as thus illustrated and described, is subject to alteration and modification without departing from the underlying principles involved, and we accordingly do not desire to be limited in our protection in the specific details so illustrated and described except as may be necessitated by the appended claims.

We claim:

1. A foldable wheel chair comprising, a substantially nonfoldable seat assembly, a pair of side wheel assemblies, each of said wheel assemblies including an inverted A-frame having a hub at its peak and a crossbar adjacent its opposite end, a wheel journalled at said hub, means hingedly securing each of said side wheel assemblies to said seat assembly, to permit folding of said wheel assemblies beneath said seat assembly from an unfolded condition of said hinge means, said hinge means including a bracket depending from said seat assembly and a hinge pin coupling said inverted A-frame to said bracket and means for latching each of said hinge means in its unfolded condition, with its associated wheel assembly in functioning position, said latching means including at least one lug extending upward from said crossbar when said wheel is in functioning position, a latching frame hingedly secured at one end to said seat assembly and including at its opposite end, a lug receiving ring in alignment with and adapted to receive said lug when in its upwardly extending position to lock the associated wheel in functioning position, and means biasing said frame to its lug engaging position to assure locking engagement with said lug during use of said wheel chair.

2. A foldable wheelchair in accordance with claim 1, characterized by a foot, rest assembly and means hingedly securing said foot rest assembly to the front portion of said seat assembly, to permit of said foot rest as-sembly to be folded to a position adjacent said seat assembly.

3. A foldable wheel chair in accordance with claim 1, characterized by a foldable arm rest assembly at each side of said seat assembly, each said arm rest assembly including an arm rest in an out-of-the-way position and in substantially the plane of said seat assembly, and means for raising said arm rest from said out-of-the-way position to a functional position above said seat assembly.

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U.S. Classification297/42, 297/411.33, 297/54, 297/DIG.400, 297/411.36
International ClassificationA47C4/20, A61G5/12, A61G5/10, A61G5/08, B62B5/04
Cooperative ClassificationA61G5/101, A61G5/1024, A61G2005/0891, A61G5/08, A61G5/1008, A61G2005/125, A61G2005/0883, A61G5/1035, B62B2005/0471, A61G2005/128, A47C4/20, A61G2005/1078, A61G2005/0858, Y10S297/04
European ClassificationA61G5/10B, A61G5/10B6A, A47C4/20, A61G5/08
Legal Events
Jul 8, 1999ASAssignment
Effective date: 19990225
Mar 30, 1999ASAssignment
Effective date: 19880402
May 21, 1981ASAssignment