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Publication numberUS3709228 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 9, 1973
Filing dateJan 7, 1971
Priority dateJan 7, 1971
Publication numberUS 3709228 A, US 3709228A, US-A-3709228, US3709228 A, US3709228A
InventorsD Barker
Original AssigneeD Barker
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Apparatus for facial stimulation
US 3709228 A
Abstract
A device for electrically stimulating the facial nerves and thereby the facial muscles of a user, and preferably including a frame which rests on and is supported by the nose and ears of a user, and has deformable arms projecting from opposite side portions of the frame and carrying electrodes for contacting the user's skin.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 Barker 1 Jan. 9, 1973 [54] APPARATUS FOR FACIAL STIMULATION [76] Inventor: Donald E. Barker, 15225 Vanowen Street, Van Nuys, Calif. 91405 22 Filed: Jan.7, 1971 2 1 App1.No.: 104,609

[52] U.S. Cl ..128/410, 128/416 [51] Int. Cl. ..'....A61n 1/18 [58] Field of Search ..128/1, 404, 410, 416, 362,

[56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,620,219 11/1971 Barker ..128/410 3,279,468 10/1966 Levine... ..128/4l0 3,464,403 9/1969 Figar ..128/410 X 671,420 4/1901 Humphrey ..l28/380 1,487,998 3/1924 v Woolf ..128/4l0 1,657,149 1/1928 Catlin ..128/4l0 2,249,790 7/1941 Schwyn ..128/410 3,388,699 6/1968 Webb et al.. ..l28/1 C 3,464,416 9/1969 Williams ..128I410 1,597,061 8/1926 Cultra ..128/404 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 11,179 1886 Great Britain ..l28/410 Primary Examiner-Kyle L. Howell Attorney-William P. Green {57 ABSTRACT A device for electrically stimulating the facial nerves and thereby the facial muscles of a user, and preferably including a frame which rests on and is supported by the nose and ears of a user, and has deformable arms projecting from opposite side portions of the frame and carrying electrodes for contacting the users skin. 1

16 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures APPARATUS FOR FACIAL STIMULATION CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS Certain features of the apparatus disclosed in the present application have been previously shown and claimed in my prior copending applications Ser. No. 785,906, filed Dec. 23, 1968 on Facial Stimulator now abandoned and Ser. No. 822,594, filed May 7, 1969 on Facial Nerve Stimulator, now 0.8. Pat. No.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates generally to apparatus for stimulating the facial nerves and muscles 'of a user, in order to improve her facial appearance.

In my application Ser. No. 822,594, I have disclosed a facial stimulating unit including an electrode carrying frame which is supported on the face of a user in sin a manner similar to a pair of eyeglasses. That is, the

' frame has a forward portion extending across the face SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention relates to certain improvements which may be applied to facial stimulating units of the above discussed type, or to other similar apparatus. The improvements enable simplification of the frame structure, more effective and convenient mounting and adjustment of the electrodes, and animproved arrangement of the electrodes in which some of the mounting arms carry pairs of electrodes while other arms carry only single electrodes in a manner attaining an optimum energization 'pattem and facilitating proper setting of the electrodes.

Two of the electrode structures are desirably carried by a pair of unique mounting structures which connect to the two ear or side portions respectively of the frame, and which extend downwardly behind the ears of the wearer and then forwardly to locations at which the electrodes are carried, all in a manner avoiding interference by those electrodes or their mounting structures with any of the other electrodes. At a higher elevation each of the side portions of the frame may carry two additional electrode structures, preferably supported by arms which are secured to and project from the side portion of the frame near its forward end. One of these mounting arms desirably extends first forwardly and then downwardly and then rearwardly in a manner forming a loop which positions the carried electrode structure for proper stimulation of the maxillary branch of the facial nerve, and allows adjustment of the loop to accurately set the electrode structure to fit any facial contour. The other of these arms may project upwardly from the side portion of the frame and carry an electrode structure for stimulating the frontal branch of the facial nerve.

In my above mentioned prior applications, each of the various electrode structures carried by a particular one of the mounting arms desirably consists of two separate electrodes which are energizable oppositely to pass current through the users skin between these two electrodes. The present invention contemplates a preferred rearrangement of the electrodes in which one of the mounting arms at each side of the frame carries a pair of electrodes as before, while at least one and preferably two of the arms at each side carries but a single electrode. More particularly, it is desirable that a vertically intermediate, one of three arms at each side carry a pair of electrodes, for stimulation of the maxillary branch of the facial nerve at that side, while the upper and lower ones of the three arms at a particular side carry single electrodes, which single electrodes I may coact with the correspondingly positioned single electrodes at the opposite side for flow of stimulating current therebetween.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING The above and other features and objects of the invention will be better understoodjfrom the following detailed description of the typical embodiments illustrated in the accompanying drawing, in which:

FIG. 1 is a side view of a facial stimulating unit constructed in accordance with the invention and shown as worn by a user;

FIG. 2 is a front view of the device of-FIG. l;

FIGS. 3 and 4 are sections taken on lines 33 and 4-4 respectively of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a perspectiveview of the stimulating unit; and, I

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary view corresponding to a portion of FIG. 1 but showing a variational form of the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT In FIG. 1, I have shown at 10 a facial stimulating unit as'it appears when positioned on the face or head of a user. The device includes a frame 11 having a forward portion 13 which extends across the front of the wearer's face and rests on the bridge of the nose, and two side or car portions 14 which project rearwardly from opposite sides of portion l3at the opposite sides of the users head. Forward portion 13 may be formed of any appropriate material, such as a suitable essentially rigid resinous plastic material, and may be shaped to contain two openings 15 within which conventional eyeglass lenses 16 are carried, so that the user, if he normally wears glasses,can see to read, view television, or the-like during use of the equipment. A central nose piece portion 17 of the forward section 13 of the frame has a downwardly facing contoured notch 18 shaped to conform to and engage downwardly against the bridge of the wearers nose, and to thereby rest on and be supported by the nose while in use.

The opposite ends of forward section 13 of the frame are connected by two hinges 19, having parallel vertical axes 20, to the forward ends of the two essentially parallel elongated rearwardly extending generally horizontal ear or side portions 14 of the frame. These side portions may have their bodies 21 molded of an appropriate essentially rigid resinous plastic material, and may contain stiffening wires 22 in the manner of conventional eyeglasses. These stiffening wires may be turned downwardly at 23 to form depending portions 24 which are engageable forwardly against the back sides of the two ears of the user, to hold the frame against forward movement, and thus maintain the frame in position during operation of the stimulating 13 of the frame, as permitted by hinges 19, to reduce the size of the unit in the same manner that conventional eyeglasses are folded for carrying.

FIG. 1 shows the electrodes which are carried by the frame at the right side of the wearer's face as including an upper electrode 26 positioned for stimulation of the frontal branch 27 of the facial nerve, a second electrode structure 28 positioned for stimulation of the maxillary branch 29 of the facial nerve, and a lower electrode 30 positioned for stimulation of the mandibular branch 31 of the facial nerve. These electrodes are mounted to the frame by three deformable mounting arms 32, 33 and 34 respectively. At the opposite side of the face (see FIG. 2), there are three similar electrode structures 26a, 28a and 30a, mounted by three arms 32a, 33a and 34a, all of which are positioned opposite the corresponding elements at the right side of the face, and are shaped and positioned essentially as mirror images thereof.

The mounting arms 32, 33, 34, 32a, 33a and 34a are constructed to permit adjustment of the positions of the various electrode structures relative to the frame, within sufficiently wide limits to enable effective contacting of the electrodes with the desired surface areas of any facial contour which may be encountered. Each of these mounting arms has one of its ends (see for example end 35 of arm 34 in FIG. 1) attached rigidly to the corresponding side frame member 14, desirably by rigid welding, soldering, or other attachment of that end to the previously mentionedstiffening wire 22 of the side member. The opposite end of each arm (e.g. end 36 of arm 34 is not directly attached to the frame,

but rather is a free end adapted for movement to any of numerous different settings relative to the frame. The corresponding electrode structure 26, 28, 30, 26a, 28a or 30a is rigidly attachedto and carried by this outer free end of each mounting arm, as by extending that free end into the material of a rigid resinous plastic body of the corresponding electrode structure (body 37 of electrode structure 30 in FIG. 4), and embedding the arm within the plastic .bodyin permanently fixed position relative thereto.v

Betweenits two ends, each arm is bendable to different conditions for enabling the desired change in position of the carried electrode structure, as between the broken line and full line positions of FIG. 2, to appropriately contact different facial contours. To enable such bending,the arms are constructed of a material which is suitably deformable, but which though bendable upon the imposition of an appropriate force, is nevertheless sufficiently stiff and rigid to remain permanently in any-condition to which the various arms are bent, until the arms are subsequently purposely deformed into another setting. For this purpose, the arms may be formed of a metal wire, typically steel, preferably having the characteristics of a malleable or ductile material, which is desirably essentially or substantially non-resilient in character, sothat it does not return to its original condition after bending. The electrode structures may be bent in any'of numerous different directions, that is, inwardly toward the face, outwardly away from the face, upwardly, downwardly, or laterally, and may be twisted to different settings about the longitudinal axes of the connected portions of the mounting wires, all in a manner enabling optimum positioning of each of the various electrode structures.

To describe more specifically the mounting of the arm 34 which mounts lower electrode 30, the fixed 'end 35 of this arm may be secured to the rear end of the horizontal portion of stiffening wire 22, as seen in FIG. 4, essentially at or near the upper end of the downturned ear engaging portion 24 of wire 22. From this point of attachment, the mounting wire 34 may curve gradually downwardly at 38 to extend downwardly behind the end 1 and at a I location preferably spaced somewhat behind downturned portion 24 of the frame wire, and may then curve gradually forwardly at 39 to the location of attachment tothe electrode 30. This curvature is such as to properly locate the electrode for the desired stimulation of the mandibular branch 31 of the facial nerve. The conductor element 40 of electrode 30 may take the form of a simple circular disc which is suitably bonded or otherwise secured to the insulative body 37 (see FIG. 4), and has a flat surface 41 for engaging the users face. Desirably, this electrode carried by arm 34 is a single electrode as shown, which is connected by a single preferably very fine flexible insulated wire 42 to one of the conductors of a flexible current supply cable 43. Conductor 42 may follow along the outer surface of mounting wire 39 to a location 44 of connection to cable 43, and may be continuously cemented or otherwise secured to wire 39 between location 44 and electrode 30, as by a flexible cement, adhesive or paint, to form in effect with wire 39 a singlevunitary bendable structure. The rest of the wires of the multistrand cable 43 may continue upwardly along mounting wire 39 from location 44 to the upper end 35 of that mounting wire, as indicated at 45, and be suitably adhered continuously to the outer surface of the wire by an appropriate cement or the like as in the case of conductor 42. This cable may then if desired extend along the surface of plastic material 21 of side piece 14, or be embedded within and extend through the interior of that plastic material, to a location 46 near theforward end of side member 14 at which arms 32 and 33 are connected thereto. From that location, a single insulated flne flexible wire 42 of the cable may extend upwardly along and be continuously cemented or otherwise adhered to wire 32 for connection to the single circular conductive disc 40' of electrode 26, while two flexible insulated conductive wires 42" may extend downwardly along and be continuously cemented to mounting arm 33 for connection to a pair of spaced essentially co-planar circular conductive electrode discs 40" and 40" of electrode structure28. As seen best in FIG. 3, these eIectrode-discs 40" and 40' are carried by a common rigid resinous plastic insulative body 46, into which the free end of mounting wire 33 extends in fixed, embedded relation. The undersurfaces 47 of the two electrode discs lie in a common plane 48 for engagement simultaneously with spaced portions of a users face.

Mounting arm 32 in extending upwardly desirably first extends at an inclination rearwardly as seen at 49 in FIG. 1, and then curves gradually forwardly to the location of electrode structure 26. The downwardly extending mounting wire or arm 33 preferably first advances at an inclination forwardly and downwardly (as shown at 50 in FIG. 1), and then curves gradually rearwardly to its point of connection with the insulative body of electrode structure 28.

The multistrand cable 43 from the two sides of the frame extend downwardly into a common cable 51, and may be connected through a number of individual rheostats 52 and a timer 53 to an electrical pulse source 54. This source 54 may be any of the numerous types of sources heretofore utilized in nerve stimulating equipment, acting to develop intermittent regularly timed voltage pulses, which may be of the alternating current type, or of the direct current type. Pulse source 54 may receive its energy from batteries carried within the source, or may be supplied with commercial power through a line represented at 55. The timing interval between successive pulses may be regulated by suitable adjustment of source 54.

Timer 53 may act when set by an appropriate control element 56 to progressively advance through a predetermined timed cycleof operation, in a manner sequentially delivering the electrical output. of source 54 through the three rheostats 52 to different ones of the electrode structures, preferably in the pattern set forth hereinbelow.

To describe the manner of use of the apparatus, a user first places the frame 12 on her'face, and then forcibly bends each of the various mounting wires 32, 33, 34, 32a, 33a and 34a to a position in which it locates the corresponding electrode structure for contact with the appropriate portion of the face (at the location of the desired one of the various branches of the facial nerve). The two discs 40" and 40' of electrode structure 28, and the corresponding electrode discs of the opposite structure 28a, are located so that nerve branch 29 passes between the two discs of each of these pairs, for conduction of current between the electrodes 40 and 40" and through the skin at the location of nerve branch 29. The single electrodes of structures 26, 30, 26a and a are located closely adjacent or overlying their respective nerve branches 27 and 31. After the particular user has set the various electrode structures for proper contact with her particular face, it is unnecessary insubsequent uses to reset the electrode structures, since they will remain in the set positions unless forcibly bent to other positions by a different user.

With the apparatus thus positioned, and with pulse source 54 energized to produce'the desired intermittent output pulses, timer 53 may be set to commence a cycle of operation during which it may typically and preferably act to energize the electrodes in the following sequence. For a first timed interval, source 54 may supply intermittent pulses through a first of the rheostats 52 to the two electrodes 40" and 40 of structure 28, with these two electrodes being connected to opposite sides of the power source to cause current flow between these electrodes and through the skin of the user for stimulation of the maxillary branch 29 of the facial nerve at that side of the face. The pulses thus cause intermittent contraction and release of the muscles controlled by this nerve branch, to effectively exercise those muscles. After that time interval, source 54 may act for a second timed interval to supply pulses through a second of the reheostats 52 to the two electrodes of structure 28a at the opposite side of the face, with opposite sides of the power source being connected to the two electrodes of that structure, to thus exercise the same-muscles at that side of the face. After expiration of that interval, pulses may be supplied for-a third interval through a third of the rheostats to the four single electrodes 26, 26a, 30 and 30a, to stimulate and exercise the muscles controlled by the frontal and mandibular branches of the facial nerves. Preferably, the two upper electrodes 26 and 26a are connected to opposite sides of the power source, as indicated diagrammatically by the plus and minus signs near these electrodes in FIG. 2, to thereby cause current flow horizontally across the forehead between these two electrodes. Similarly, the two lower electrodes 30 and 30a are desirably connected to opposite sides of the power source, but reversely as compared with upper electrodes 26 and 26a, to thus pass current generally horizontally between the two electrodes 30 and 30a but in a direction the opposite of that produced between the upper electrodes. This fact is indicated diagrammatically in FIG. 2 by the plus and minus signs located near the electrodes 30 and 30a. When electrode 26 is energized in a positive direction, the lower electrode 30 at the same side of the face is desirably energized oppositely, and similarly at the left side of the face, when upper electrode 26a is energized in a first direction the lower electrode 30a is energized oppositely. This is desirable in order to prevent the tendency for any flow of current diagonally between electrodes 26 and 300, or between 260 and 30, which current it is found has an adverse effect in contracting the master muscle of the face and tending to cause unwanted tightening of the jaw. If the current energizing the electrodes is altemating current, the polarities of the various electrodes will of course change with each change in direction of the current, but the indicated pattern of like and unlike poles will nevertheless remain the same as discussed above regardless of current direction.

It is contemplated that, if desired, the frame 11, instead of resting directly on the bridge of the nose and the ears of the user, may be provided with clips enabling attachment of the frame to a conventional eyeglass frame worn by the user, with the overall combination of the eyeglass frame and attached electrode carrying frame then being used in the same manner discussed above.

FIG. 6 shows fragmentarily a variational arrangement which may be considered as identical with that of FlGS. l to 5 except that the deformable mounting arm 139 for mounting lower electrode 130, which arm 139 corresponds to arm 39 of FIG. 1, is formed as a continuation of and is integral with the downtumed ear engaging portion 124 of stiffening wire 122 of the side frame element 114 (corresponding to element 14 of FIG. 1). Thus, a single wire may in this variational arrangement serve both as the stiffening wire, the element for engaging forwardly against the rear side of the ear, and the mounting arm for the lower electrode. A similar mounting for the corresponding lower electrode at the opposite side of the face is of course also provided. This arrangement has the advantage of increased simplicity, but does not allow the same relative adjustment of the ear engaging element 24 and lower electrode mounting arm 39 as attained in FIG. 1. A

While certain specific embodiments of the present invention have been disclosed as typical, the invention is of course not limited to these particular forms, but rather is applicable broadly to all such variations as fall within the scope of the appended claims.

I claim:

l. A facial stimulator including a frame to be worn on the face of a user and having a forward portion adapted to extend across the front of the face and adapted to rest on and be supported by the bridge of the nose, said frame havingtwo ear portions positioned to project rearwardly ,at opposite sides of the users head and adapted to rest on and be supported by the two ears respectively of the user, a plurality of electrode structures carried bysaid frame at locations to engage different portions of the users face and adapted electrodes oppositely for conduction of nerve stimulating current therebetween.

6. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, including two car engaging elements extending downwardly from the rear ends of said two car portions respectively of the frame and engageable forwardly against the ears to hold the frame against forward movement.

7. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, including two ear engaging elements extending downwardly from the rear ends of said two car portions respectively of the frame and engageable forwardly against the ears to hold the frame against forward movement, there being two of said electrode mountings extending downwardly from said ear portions near said ear engaging elements but relative to which said ear engaging elements are bendable.

material which is deformable to different conditions in a relation locating said one electrode structure at any of a plurality of different positions on the face of a user, and which material is adapted to remain by its own stiffness in said different conditions to which it may be deformed, and to thereby hold'said one electrode structure in any of said different positions thereof until the arm is again forcibly deformed.

3. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, in which there are two or said electrode mountings connected to said two ear portions respectively and constructed and positioned to extend downwardly at the backs of the two cars respectively and then forwardly to carry two of said electrode structures at locations to engage opposite sides of the face.

4. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, including hinge means connecting forward ends of said ear portions of the frame to opposite ends respectively of said forward portion of the frame for relative swinging movement to retracted positions.

5. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, in which there are two of said electrode mountings connected to said two car portions respectively constructed and positioned to extend downwardly at the backs of the two cars respectively and then forwardly to carry two of said electrode structures at locations to engage opposite sides of the face, each of said two electrode structures carried by said mountings being a single electrode, there being means for energizing said single 8. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, including an electrical lead from said one of the electrode structures extending along said electrode mounting. v

9. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 1, in which there are two of said electrode mountings connected to said two car portions respectively and constructed and nected to said ear portions of the frame near the forward ends thereof.

10. A facial stimulator as. recited in claim 9, inwhich said additional arms include, at each side of the face, a

first deformable arm projecting upwardly and carrying only a single electrode, and a second deformable arm projecting downwardly and carrying a pair of oppositely energized electrodes, said'two electrode structures carried by said first mentioned electrode mountings being single electrodes on each mounting.

1 l. Facial stimulating apparatus including a frame to be worn adjacent the face of a user, a first deformable mounting arm projecting from said frame, and positioned for reception at one side of the face, a pair of electrodes carried by said mounting arm and located to stimulate the maxillary branch of the facial nerve at said one side of the face, a second deformable mounting arm projecting from the frame and positioned for reception at the opposite side of the face, a second pair of electrodes carried by said second arm and located to stimulate the maxillary branch of the facial nerve at said opposite side of the face, two additional deformable mounting arms carried by'the frame and positioned for reception at opposite sides of the face, two single electrodes carried by said additional arms respectively at locations to stimulate corresponding nerves at said opposite sides of the face, and means for energizing the two electrodes of each of said pairs oppositely for flow of stimulating current between the two electrodes of each pair, and for energizing said single electrodes on said additional arms in a relation to cause current flow through the face to or from each of the single electrodes without flow directly to any other electrode carried by the same arm.

12. Facial stimulating apparatus as recited in claim 11, in which said single electrodes are located beneath said pairs of electrodes for stimulating the mandibular branches of the facial nerves, there being two upper deformable mounting arms carried by the frame and positioned for reception at opposite sides of the face, and two additional single electrodes carried by said upper arms at locations to stimulate the frontal branches of the facial nerves, said energizing means being constructed to energize said first two single electrodes oppositely for current flow therebetween, and to energize said two additional single electrodes oppositely for current flow therebetween.

13. A facial stimulator including a frame to be worn on the face of a user and having a forward portion adapted to extend across the front of the face and adapted to rest on and be supported by the bridge of the nose, said frame having two car portions adapted to project rearwardly at opposite sides of the users head and adapted to rest on and be supported by the two cars respectively of the user, a plurality of electrode structures carried by said frame at locations to engage different portions of the users face and adapted to electrically stimulate facial nerves and the muscles controlled thereby, and two electrode mounting arms positioned for reception at opposite sides of the face and connected to said two car portions respectively and carrying two of said electrode structures, each of said arms extending forwardly and then downwardly and then rearwardly to a location at which the corresponding electrode structure is carried and being deformable to different settings to change the position of said carried electrode structure. v

14. A facial stimulator including a frame to be worn on the face of a user and having a forward portion adapted to extend across the front of the face and and adapted to rest on and be supported by the bridge of the nose, said frame having two ear portions positioned to project rearwardly at opposite sides of the users head and adapted to rest on and be supported by the two ears respectively of the user, hinges connecting forward ends of said ear portionsto opposite ends of said forward portion for relative swinging movement, bendable ear engaging elements projecting downwardly from rear ends of said ear portions at locations for reception at the backs of the users ears for engagement forwardly thereagainst, a first pair of electrode mounting arms projecting downwardly from said ear portions at locations for reception behind the ears and then curving forwardly to free ends thereof, two

first electrode structures carried by said free ends of said arms, a second pair of mounting arms connected to said two ear portions of the frame respectively and curving forwardly and then downwardly and then rearwardly to free ends thereof, two second electrode structures carried by said free ends of said second pair of mounting arms, a third pair of mounting arms projecting upwardly arid forwardly from said ear portions of the frame to free ends, two third electrode structures carried by said free ends of said third pair of mounting arms, all of said mountingarms being deformable to different positions and adapted to remain in said different positions by their own stiffness, conductors ex tending along at least some of said arms to said electrode structures, and means for energizing said electrode structures.

15. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 14, in

said second electrode structures including a pair ofspaced electrodes carried by each of said second pair of arms respectively, said third electrodes structures being single electrodes on the two arms respectively of said third pair.

16. A facial stimulator as recited in claim 15, in which said energizing means are constructed in one condition to energize oppositely the electrodes of one pair carried by one of said second arms, and in another condition to energize oppositely the electrodes of the other pair carried by the other second arm, and in a third condition to energize oppositely the two single electrodes carried by said first pair of arms and energize oppositely the two single electrodes carried by said third pair of arms.

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US8914123Sep 7, 2005Dec 16, 2014Cefaly Technology SprlApparatus for electro-inhibition of facial muscles
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Classifications
U.S. Classification607/139, 607/148, 351/158
International ClassificationA61N1/32, A61N1/04
Cooperative ClassificationA61N1/328, A61N1/0452, A61N1/0476, A61N1/0492, A61N1/0456, A61N1/0472
European ClassificationA61N1/04E2, A61N1/04E1N, A61N1/04E1M, A61N1/32, A61N1/32T