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Publication numberUS3710791 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 16, 1973
Filing dateMar 9, 1970
Priority dateMar 9, 1970
Publication numberUS 3710791 A, US 3710791A, US-A-3710791, US3710791 A, US3710791A
InventorsD Deaton
Original AssigneeAhldea Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inflatable patient enclosures
US 3710791 A
Abstract
An inflatable housing includes bottom and side portions adapted to enclose a volume of atmosphere for use as an incubator or an oxygen tent. The side portions of the housing are constructed from spaced apart flexible sheets to form air chambers which extend over a substantial area of the side portions. When the air chambers are inflated, the side portions become self-supporting and the air chambers form a confined air barrier about the volume of atmosphere surrounding the patient. For safety purposes in certain embodiments, at least two independent air chambers are provided around the housing, each of the independent air chambers having the capacity when inflated to maintain the side portions in an upright position. In other embodiments, a top portion has an opening defined therein, with an air chamber ring disposed about the periphery of the opening. The air chamber ring when inflated is capable of maintaining the shape of the opening regardless of the state of inflation of the air chambers in the side portions.
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United States Patent 1 Deaton n11 3,710,791 1 Jan. 16,1973

[54] INFLATABLE PATIENT ENCLOSURES [75] Inventor: David W. Deaton, Dallas, Tex.

[73] Assigneez' Ahldea Corporation, Dallas, Tex.

[22] Filed: March 9, 1970 [21] Appl. No.: 17,688

[52] [1.8. CI ..l28/19l A, 128/1 B, 135/1 A [51] Int. Cl. ..A61m 15/00 [58] Field of Search ..l28/l B, 191, 191 A, 33; 135/1 A; 52/2 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,915,074 12/1959 Cameto .4... ..128/l91 X 3,540,170 11/1970 Flowers ..52/2

3,332,176 7/1967 Knetzer ..52/2

3,265,059 8/1966 Matthews ..l28/l Morrell ..l3 5/l Primary -ExaminerRichard A. Gaudet Assistant ExaminerG. F. Dunne Attorney-Richards, Harris & Hubbard 57 ABSTRACT ments, at least two independent air chambers are provided around the housing, each of the-independent air chambers having the capacity when inflated to maintain the side portions in an upright position. In. other embodiments, a top portion has an opening defined therein, with an air chamber ring disposed about the periphery of the opening. The air chamber ring when inflated is capable of maintaining the shape of the opening regardless of the state of inflation of the air chambers in the side portions.

12 Claims, 19 Drawing Figures PATENTEDJAH 16 I975 3.710.791

' sum 1 OF 6 DA v/d I? have;

FI 3 v 2 7PM94M W ATTORNEY PATENTEDJAH 15 I975 SHEET 3 UF 6 FIG. 7

iNVENTOR DAVID W DEATON ATTORNEY PATENTEDJAN 161975 3.710.791

sum u or 6 I iiu N DAVID WDEATON ATTORNEY PATENTEDJM 1a 1915 sum 6 [IF v e unvib hk anrow 1 x1 TORNEY INFLATABLE PATIENT ENCLOSURES FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to enclosures for treatment of a patient, and more particularly to inflatable patient enclosures for containing a volume of atmosphere useful for treatment of a patient.

PRIOR ART It has long been known to provide enclosures for a volume of controlled atmosphere for treatment of patients. For instance, incubators formed from plastic housings are commonly used to accommodate infant patients within a temperature controlled oxygen atmosphere. Additionally, a wide variety of oxygen tents have been heretofore utilized to enclose'the head portion of patients within a controlled oxygen or humidity atmosphere. Generally, both incubators and oxygen tents have heretofore included a rigid framework or housing. In the case of incubators, the housing has generally been constructed from plastic or glass, with ports being defined in the side thereof to allow access to the infant therein. In the case of oxygen tents, it has been usual to provide a rigid metal framework over which is disposed a flexible canopy or hood.

A number of problems have arisen from the use of such rigid frameworks and housings for both incubators and oxygen tents. Storage space at a hospital is always at a premium, and such rigid frameworks and housings have heretofore consumed valuable storage space when not in actual use. Moreover, the rigid frameworks have often been difficult to assemble when use is required, and maintenance problems have occurred due to the normal breakdown of conventional fasteners and the like utilized in both the rigid frameworks and housings. Another problem of extreme importance in hospitals is that previous rigid frameworks and housings have been extremely difficult to clean and sterilize, due to their size and also due to the rectangular nature of their construction which inherently results in a plurality of difficult-to-clean corners. In addition, the sharp corners and edges resulting from the rigid construction of previous incubators and oxygen tents have present physical hazards to both patients and furniture.

Another problem particularly related to the use of conventional rigid incubators has been the extreme radiant heat loss allowed by the transparent plastic or glass side and top panels commonly utilized in such incubators. It is well known that infants are particularly susceptible to extreme heat loss from such heat radiation, thereby resulting in stress to the infant. Additionally such heat loss results in an increase in the load on the air conditioning system of an incubator in order to maintain a desirable environment for the infant. Moreover, many previously developed closed top incubators have suffered a severe loss in oxygen atmosphere when an attendant renders care to the patient through the side portholes in an incubator.- Due to the fact that a loss in oxygen content within an incubator is not rebuilt for a substantial period of time, infant patients have sometimes been deprived of the required environmental atmosphere within previous incubators. In addition to these inherent problems, many prior incubators have comprised a unitary system of atmosphere enclosure, conditioned air supply system,

electrical controls and the like, and have thus not been adaptable to interchanging of components to allow flexibility of use of to enable maintenance or repair work to be done upon the components.

Oxygen tents having rigid frameworks have generally included metal members which create safety problems in the high oxygen atmosphere of a tent, due to the possibility of a spark or the like being struck from the metal members. In addition to the previously mentioned difficulties in sterilization and cleaning, metal frameworks in previous oxygen tents have also been subject to corrosion and rusting due to the moisture content of the atmosphere maintained within the tents. In an effort to circumvent certain of the problems inherent in the use of a rigid metal network for an oxygen tent, the Cameto US. Pat. No. 2,915,074, issued Dec. 1, 1959, disclosed the use of continuous, elongated air cells about the edges of an ice-cooled oxygen tent.

However, the Cameto patent does not disclose an oxygen tent which meets the critical requirements for a practical and economical inflatable tent, such as, among other things, a tent which does not require icecooling and safety measures to prevent the undesirable deflation and collapse of .such a tent. Moreover, the Cameto patent does not disclose an inflatable incubator, and further does not disclose structure for reducing radiant heat loss or for maintaining the desired environmental conditions within a patient enclosure.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, an inflatable patient enclosure comprises a housing having bottom and side portions adapted to enclose a volume of atmosphere for treatment of a patient. The side portions of the housing are constructed from spaced apart flexible sheets to form air chambers therein which extend over a substantial area of the side portions. When the air chambers are inflated, the side portions become self-supporting and a confined air barrier is disposed about the volume of atmosphere surrounding the patient to thereby reduce radiant heat loss and to maintain the atmosphere in the enclosure within prescribed limits.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, an inflatable patient enclosure includes bottom and sideportions joined to form an enclosure for a volume of atmosphere for treatment of a patient. The bottom and side portions are constructed from spaced apart flexible sheets to form at leasttwo independent air chambers, each of the independent air chambers having the capacity when inflated to maintain the side portions in an upright position.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, an inflatable enclosure for a patient includes bottom, top and side portions joined to form an enclosure.

for a volume of atmosphere utilized to treat a patient.- The side portions are constructed from opposed flexible sheets to form air chambers therein, which when inflated maintain the side portions in an upright position. The top portion of the enclosure has an opening defined therein to permit easy access to the patient. An independent air chamber is formed about the periphery of the opening in the top portion, the independent air chamber when inflated being capable of maintaining tion of the air chambers in the side portions.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, an inflatable incubator is provided which includes a bottom portion joined with upright side portions to enclose a volume.of conditioned atmosphere and an infant patient. The bottom and side portions are constructed from opposed flexible sheets which form air chambers extending over substantially the entire area of the bottom and side portions. When the air chambers are inflated, the bottom portion is adapted to support the weight of the infant patient, and the side portions are adapted to maintain a self-supporting upright position.

In accordance with yet another specific aspect of the invention, an inflatable oxygen tent includes bottom, top and side portions joined to enclose a volume of atmosphere. The side and bottom portions are constructed from opposed flexible sheets to form air chambers which extend over a substantial area of the bottom and side portions. The air chambers when inflated cause the side portions to become self-supporting and form a confined air barrier about the enclosed volume of atmosphere. An opening is formed in the side portion for receiving the head and trunk of a patient.

In accordance with another specific aspect of the invention, a circular inflatable patient enclosure includes a continuous sidewall constructed from air chambers which. when inflated form a circular enclosure for a' volume of atmosphere for treatment of a patient. The patient enclosure may comprise either an oxygen tent or an incubator, and has an opening in the top thereof. In one embodiment of the invention, a safety ring is disposed about the periphery of the opening for maintaining the shape thereof regardlessof the inflation of the sidewall. In other embodiments .ofthe invention, various safety measures such as a pluralityof independent air chambers and a plurality of rigid rods connected to the sidewalls are provided. I

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS For a more complete understanding of the present thereof, reference is now made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a perspective view of the inflatable incubator according to the invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a top view of the incubator as shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 10 is a top view of the oxygen tent shown in FIG. 8;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view, partially broken away of another embodiment of an oxygen tent according to the invention;

FIG. 12 is a diagrammatic view of the flow of air FIG. 17 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a circular patient enclosure including a plurality of independent air chambers;

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a circular patient enclosure utilizing a plurality of in- 'invention and for further objects and advantages FIG. 3 illustrates a sectional view taken generally 7 along section lines 3-3 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 illustrates a sectional view taken generally along section lines 4-4 in FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 illustrates the inflatable incubator of FIG. 1 in a deflated position; I I

FIG. 6 is a somewhat diagrammatic perspective view of another embodiment of an incubator according to the invention;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view taken generally along the section lines 7-7 in FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a somewhat diagrammatic view, partially broken away of another embodiment of an incubator according to the invention;

partially broken away, of an oxygen tent according to the invention;

' patient 19. While in some embodiments the air cham- FIG. 9 is a somewhat diagrammatic perspective view,

dependent air chambers; and

FIG. 19 is a perspective view of another embodiment of a circular patient enclosure utilizing air check valves. I i

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, an incubator identified by the numeral 10 is disposed upon the upper surface 12 of a table generally identified by the numeral 14. Incubator 10 includes a bottom portionl6 joined to. four sidewall portions 18 to form a' housing enclosing a volume of atmosphere for treatment of an infant 19.

As best shown in FIG. 2, the sidewalls 18 are constructed fromspaced apart or opposed flexible sheets 20a-b which form a continuous air chamber 22 extending completely around the sides of the incubator 10..

chamber 26 is inflated, the bottomportion 16 acts as an air mattress to resiliently support the body of the infant bers 22'and 26 may communicate with one another, in

the preferred embodiment the two air chambers are separated in order to provide improved resiliency to the bottom portion 16. Air is forced. into the chamber 22 via a conventional air filler valve stem 28. Likewise, air is forced into the bottom air chamber 26 via an air,

filler valve stem 30. In a hospital environment, sources Referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, a top portion 32 is integrally formed from extensions from the sidewalls l8 and includes an upper flexible layer 34a which is an extension from the sidewall 20b. An air chamber 36 is thus defined in the top portion 32 to reduce the radiant heat loss from the incubator. Air chamber 36 is an ex tension of the air chamber 22, and is thus inflated by the admission of pressurized air via the valve stem 28.

An opening 38 is formed in the top portion 32 of the incubator l0 in order to allow easy access to the infant patient 19 for care and treatment thereof. Additionally, the opening 38 is of a size to enable the infant 19 to be placed within the incubator therethrough. For safety purposes, an independent inflatable air chamber ring 40 is defined about the periphery of the opening 38. Air chamber ring 40 is formed by folding the edges of the flexible layer 34a under about the periphery of the opening 38. The edge of the layer 34a is then welded by heat or the like at a joint 42 in the manner shown in FIG. 4 to form an oval confined air chamber ring 40. A weld joint 43 is also made between the layers 34a and 34b to seal the air chamber 36.

Air chamber 40 may be inflated by connecting a source of pressurized gas to an air filler valve stem 44. When the air chamber 40 is inflated, the shape of the opening 38 is maintained at all times regardless of the state of the inflation of the air chambers 22 or 36. Thus, in case of accidental deflation of the air chamber 22, the air chamber 40 will prevent the top portion 32 of the incubator from falling upon the face of the infant. In some instances, a rigid plastic ring may be used in place of the air chamber 40.

The incubator is suitablyfastened to the upper surface 12 of the table 14 by tabs extending from the incubator, not shown, which snap into corresponding snaps placed upon the surface 12, or by tie straps or other suitable structure. Table 14 is usually provided with rollers 50 to enable ease of transportation of the incubator. One or more shelfs 52 are provided on the table 14 to support environmental control circuitry for use with the incubator 10.

For instance, a unit 54 is provided with oxygen percentage control knobs, temperature control knobs, nebulizer or vaporizer control knobs and other suitable controls such as air flow control knobs. Conventional circuitry within the unit 54 controls the operation of an airconditioning unit 54 which supplies desired amounts of warm conditioned air through a conduit 58 into the volume surrounded by the incubator 10. Conduit 58 communicates with a nozzle 60 extending through the sidewall portions of the incubator 10.

Unit 56, for instance, may comprise a fan for sucking air into the unit, an air filtering device, warming heater structure for warming the filtered air and for delivering the conditioned air to the conduit 58. Additionally,-

conventional nebulizer or vaporizer structure may be disposed within the unit 56 in order to add predetermined amounts of moisture into the conditioned air fed to the conduit 58. 7

Suitable techniques of heating the air in the unit 56 comprise'a resistance heated coil through which the air is drawn or an immersion heater element which heats a quantity of water through which the oxygen is passed to obtain heat and'moisture therefrom. In some instances, it will be also desirable to dispose a thermostat within the incubator 10 and utilize the detected temperature to control the operation of the heater element within the unit 56 in order to maintain the atmosphere within the incubator 10 a predetermined temperature. Additionally, in some embodiments, a closed volume of air may be circulated within the incubator 10, with ultraviolet light being directed upon the recirculated .air in the unit 56 to sterilize the reused air.

In the embodiment illustrated, the conditioned air supplied via conduit 58 is fed into the incubator 10 with sufficient pressure that a small amount of air constantly escapes from the opening 38. Due to this positive pressure exerted upon the atmosphere within the incubator l0, contaminants and the like are prevented from opening the incubator via the opening 38, and a sterile conditioned atmosphere is maintained within the incubator.

A flexible inlet sheath 57 extends outwardly from the incubator 10 and includes rubber bands or other tie strings on the end thereof for completely closing the end ofthe'sheath. The sheath 56 covers an opening through the sidewalls of the incubator. Thus, when it is desired to admitadditional hoses, monitoringleads or the like through the sidewall of the tent, the sheath 57 may be untied and then closed over the conduits or wires admitted into the incubator.

In order to evenly disseminate the air admittedinto the incubator 10, a baffle, not shown, such as a plastic sheet or the like may be disposed a short distance away from the nozzle 60. The gas entering the incubator then hits the baffle and is distributed throughout the interior of the incubator.

An advantage of the'embodiment shown in FIG. 1 is that a great deal of flexibility is provided with respect to the type of environment conditioning apparatus utilized in conjunction with the incubator 10. The various units for conditioning the air may be interchanged for ease of -maintenance and repair. Similarly, different units may be substituted for the units 54 and 56 when different environmental conditioning criteria are desired for particular patients. In fact, in some instances, the conduit 58 may be removed and the nozzle 60 closed, and the incubator 10 may be utilized as a simple bassinet for infants. However, the present enclosure is particularly adapted for use in an incubator due to the confined air space provided by the air chambers which surround the infant.

The percentage of oxygen maintained within the incubator 10 may be very accurately controlled up to in the range of percent. Even with the opening 38 provided in the top' of the incubator, the atmosphere within the incubator has been found to be very stable even during care or treatment of the patient 19. The provision of the air chamber 26 on the bottom'portion of the incubator provides the advantage of a mattress be periodically sterilized and not in use This enables the incubator to be very easily stored and enables the incubator to be economically packaged and transported. The present incubator will be inexpensive to manufacture, and thus. may be disposed of after use. However, in the instances where additional use is required, the incubator may be deflated and easily cleaned and sterilized as by subjecting the deflated incubator to ethylene oxide. 7

FIGS. 6 and 7 illustrate another embodiment of an incubator 61 according to the invention. The construction of this embodiment of the incubator differs in that a series of elongated, parallel rib portions 62 define a series of vertical air pockets 64 which form the sides of the incubator. The rib portions 62 preferably comprise elongated heat welds between opposed flexible plastic sheets 66ab. At the ends of each air chamber 64, an opening is defined which communicates with the adjacent air chamber 64. These openings are formeddue to the fact that the rib portions 62 do not extend the full length of the air chambers 64. Each air chamber 64 has an opening at each end. Thus, pressurized air may be fed into each of the air chambers 64 by admission to a single air filler valve stem 67. The air enters the valve stem 67 and seq uentially fills the air chamber 64 by flowing through a tortuousup and down path through adjacent ones of the air chambers 64.

Disposed in the region of each of the openings between adjacent air chambers 64 are flexible plastic members 68 which tend to act as air check valves. The flexible members 68 comprise, for instance, extensions of the ribs62, and are of a length slightly greater'than the openings between adjacent air chambers. The outer ends of the flexible members are free to move. Thus, pressurized air entering the valve stem 67 is allowed to pass freely through each of the openings between adjacent air chambers 64, the passage of the air in this direction not being impeded by the flexible members 68. However, once theincubator 60 in inflated and each of the air chambers 64 are filled, the flexible portholes may-be defined through the sides of the incubator, not shown, in a conventional manner if desired. The top 70 may comprise a double layered plastic sheet which defines an air chamber, or may comprise a single plastic sheet. Similarly, the bottom of the incubator60, not shown, may comprise either a single plastic layer or may comprise the double layer illustrated in FIG. 1

which provides an air mattress effect for the infant con-' tained within the incubator.

pendent sets of air chambers to preventany hazardous collapse of theincubator due to the loss of air. pressure] within one of the sets of air chambers. The incubator shown in FIG. 8 comprises a bottom portion formed from a plurality of elongated, generallyr rectangularair pockets 80 formed by a. series'of parallel welds 82 at spaced apart locations across the width of two opposed plastic sheets. One end of each of the air pockets 80 is closed, with the other end'inclu ding aniinle't portion 84. Each inlet portion 84 is connected to openings along the length of a hollow plastic tube 86 which is disposed around the periphery of the bottom.'An air fillervalve stem 88 is connected to the tube 86 for admission of pressurized air. An advantage of this bottom construction is the formation of an air-mattress for cushioning the patient. Also, moisture tends to collect in the crevices between the air pockets, where the moisture may be easily drained away from the patient.

The sidewalls of the incubator are. also formed from "a plurality of parallel, spaced apart welds 90 between opposed flexible plastic sheets. The welds 90 extend along the full width of the sheets, and thus independent,

generally. rectangular air pockets 92 are formed to comprise the sidewalls of the incubator. Alternate ones of the air pockets 92 are connected at the bottom.

' thereof via inlets 94' to the tube 88. Thus, when pres surized air is supplied viarthe valve stem .88, the air passes through the tube 86 andinto alternate ones of the air pockets 92..Thisset ofalternate air pockets provides sufficient strength when inflated to completely support the incubator in the upright position.

A second tube 98 is disposed about the periphery of the top of the incubator and includes an air valve stem 100 for the admission of air thereto. The remaining alternate air pockets 92'are connected to openings along the tube 98 via air inlets 102. Thus, when pressurized air is admitted to the valve stem 100, the second set of independent air pockets 92 are inflated. Again, the second setof independent, air pockets 92 has sufficient strength to maintain the wall portions in an. upright position. Thus, if one set of the air pockets becomes deflated, the remaining independent set of air pockets 7 maintains the incubator in" an upright position to.

check valves made upofflexible plastic may be disposed at each of the inlets 94 and 102 to reduce the possibility of deflation of the device upon leakage from one of the air pockets. Although,the air pockets 92 have been illustrated and described. as being vertically oriented, the air:pockets. could be also horizontallym di'sposedin certain embodiments. FIGS. 9-12 illustrate various embodiments of an ox ygen tent constructed in accordance with theinvention. Afirst oxygententis generally identified by numeral and comprises a generally rectangularhousing. The bottom of the housing may-comprise an air mattress such as thatpreviously. described, ormay al- FIG. 8 illustrates another embodiment of an incubaternatively comprise a single pieceof flat material. The

sidewalls of the housing are formed from three spaced apart parallel flexible sheets of plastic 1124-0. The

sidewalls thusform a pair of continuous airchambe'rs about the sides and top portion of the oxygen tent. An opening 114 is defined in the top of the tent and surrounded by an independently inflatable air ring 116 similar to that illustrated in FIG. I. An air filler valve stem 118 may be connected with a source of pressurized air to inflate the independent air ring 1 16. Such sources of air pressure are generally available at hospital installations in the form of compressor or the like. For use at home, the present enclosure may be inflated by breath or by use of a manually operated flexible bulb with a check valve disposed therein.

A first air filler valve stem 120 is connected for inflation of the air chamber formed between sheets l12a-112b, while a valve stem 122 is provided for inflation of the air space between sheets l 12b-112c. It will be understood that the use of more than one inflatable air chamber for the sides of the oxygen tent 110 provides a great deal of safety, the oxygen tent will remain in an upright position even though one of the oxygen chambers is punctured or develops a leak. Ox-

ygen or other controlled atmosphere may be admitted to the oxygen tent 1 10 via a conduit 124.

An opening 126 is formed in a sidewall of the oxygen tent 110 for admission of the neck of the patient. A flexible sheath 128 is connected about the periphery of the opening 126 in order to seal against the neck portion of the patient to eliminate loss of oxygen through the opening 126. -A plurality of tabs 130 extend from the lower corners of the oxygen tent 110 for attachment of strings or the like so that the oxygen tent may be securely tied to a bed. An advantage of the oxygen tent 110 is that any suitable nebulizer, vaporizer or the like may be disposed in a corner thereof. For instance, a nebulizer 134 is illustrated in FIG; 9 as being disposed in the corner of the tent for adding selective mist to the enclosed atmosphere within the tent.

It should be understood that the double air chamber embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 9 and 10 could alternatively be utilized for an incubator of the type shown in FIG. 1. A continuous dead air barrier is formed by the two independent air chambers to provideextremely good insulation for the tent in order to enable an accurately controlled temperature to be maintained within the confines of the tent. It will also be understood that while an opening 114 is shown in the preferred embodiment of the tent 110, a closed toptent could also be constructed according to the invention.

The present tent is constructed in the same manner as the incubators previously described from transparent flexible plastic material by heat welding or other suitable techniques. The present tent is adapted to be easily collapsed for storage in a small space and yet easily inflated for use at any time. The plural independent air chamber concept of the invention provides a great amount of structural safety for the device. The tent may be easily disposed of or cleaned and sterilized for later use as desired. Extremely accurate and high oxygen percentage may be maintained within the tent by providing a slightly positive pressure to cause some amountof oxygen outflow through theopening 114, thereby preventing the admission of contaminants into. the tent environment.

FIGS. 11 and 12 illustrate another embodiment of the invention illustrating an oxygen vtent. generally identified by the numeral 150. The bottom of the tent 150 is constructed from spaced apart plastic sheets to form a series of elongated air chambers 152. In the preferred'embodiment, the air chambers 152 are interconnected so that they may be inflated through single air filler valve stem 154. Once inflated, the bottom portion provides a built-in mattress for the head of the patient. The sidewalls of the tent 150 are formed from vertically disposed air pockets 156 constructed in the manner previously described.

FIG. 12 schematically illustrates the construction of the air chambers 156. Each adjacent air chamber is interconnected with the adjacent air chamber via a flexible check valve opening 158. The valve openings 158 comprise a pair of outwardly protruding flexible portions within each of the air chambers 156. The flexible portions allow passage of air in the direction shown by the arrows without substantial impedance thereto. However, the valve openings 158 tend to close and thereby prevent the passage of air in the reverse direction, thereby tending to maintain each of the air chambers 156 as an independently filled chamber once inflated. In the preferred embodiment, the valve openings 158 are alternately disposed on the top and the bottom of adjacent air chambers, but an alternate arrangement would place each of the air valves at the same general height along thewalls of the tent 150. In some cases, it may be desirable to affix thin plastic rods within the welds in the sidewalls formingair chambers 156. The plastic rods provide additional to the sidewalls, but do not interfere with the portability and easy storage of the tent.

The sidewalls of the tent are filled from the air filler valve stem 160. In the preferred embodiment, an independent inflatable ring 162 is disposed about the upper periphery of the sidewalls of the tent 150. This ring 162 is inflatable with pressurized air from an air filler valvestem 164 in order to maintain the shape of the open top tent regardless of the state of inflation of the sidewalls of the tent. Oxygen is maintained within the open tent due to the fact that oxygen is heavier than air. An opening 166 is formed in the side of the tent to admit the head of a patient. A sheet 168 is connected to the opening 166 to prevent the passage of oxygen out safety against leakage of the system. Moreover, the use of the one-way check valves 158 adds another element of safety against the unauthorized deflation of the tent.

Again, the formation of a confined air barrier over a substantial area of the side portions of the oxygen tent provide a substantial amoun't'of temperature insulation to the atmosphere within the tent. The open top provided in the oxygen tents of the invention allows, sufficient cooling of the atmosphere within the tent that ice cooling or other refrigeration is not needed to maintain the temperature at or slightly below ambient. It should' be understood that the construction illustrated in FIGS.

l1 and 12 is also adaptable to construction of an incubator of the type previously described.

FIG. 13 illustrates the preferred embodiment of the invention which comprises a circular patient enclosure 200. While the circular patient enclosure will be particularly described with respect to use as an oxygen tent, it will be understood that a circular incubator may also be constructed in accordance with this concept. The patient enclosure 200 comprises a sidewall 202 formed in a circle and comprising a plurality of air pockets 204. When air pockets 204 are inflated, they become upstanding to provide an enclosure for a gaseous atmosphere for treatment of a patient.

Tie-down tabs 206 extend from the bottom of the enclosure 200 to enable the enclosure to be securely tied down to the bed by strings. An inlet hose 208 extends through the upstanding sidewalls of the enclosure for admission of predetermined amounts of oxygen and controllable percentages of humidity. An air valve stem 210 is provided for admission of air i nto the chambers 204 for inflation thereof. In the illustrated embodiment, the adjacent air chambers 204 are joined together by small openings between adjacent chambers so'that each of the chambers may be inflated by the single valve stem 210.

A bottom 212 is connected to the bottom of the sidewall 202, but may be omitted in some cases. An opening 214 is defined in the sidewalls for admission of the head and trunk portion of a patient.'A flexible plastic sheath 216 is connected to the opening 214 for sealing against the patient to eliminate oxygen leakage.

' An important aspect of the invention is the provision of a safety ring 218 about the upper periphery of the sidewall 202. In the preferred embodiment, the safety ring 218 comprises an independently inflatable circular chamber which may be inflated through an air valve stem 220. Onceinflated, the ring 218 becomes sufficiently rigid to maintain the shape of the upper opening of the enclosure 200 to prevent suffocation of the pa tient in case of accidental deflation of the sidewall 202. In some instances, it may be desirable to utilize a rigid annular ring such as a plastic ring, in place of the inflatable air ring 218, although this will result in an increase of required storage space when the enclosure 200 is deflated.

As shown, the top of the enclosure 200 is open to allow easy access to the head of the patient. The oxygen admitted through the hose 208 is of sufficient quantity to maintain a stabilized atmosphere within the enclosure at all times. A slightly positive pressure of oxygen is maintained within the enclosure 200, such that some leakage of oxygen occurs from the upper portion of the enclosure 200. However, due to the fact that oxygen is heavier than air, the interior of the enclosure 200 may be maintained at relatively high oxygen levels. The escape of air from the top of the enclosure 200 tends to prevent the contamination of the atmosphere, and tends to cool the atmosphere within the enclosure 200. In practice, it has been found that ice cooling and other types of external air cooling are not required with the use of such a tent in order to obtain ambient, or slightly below ambient, temperatures within the tent.

The enclosure 200 illustrated in FIG. 13 is particularly advantageous in being economical andsimple to construct, as well as to store, maintain and utilize. FIG. 14 illustrates a technique of manufacturing the illustrated tent. A pair of elongated rectangular sheets of flexible, transparent plastic 222 are adjacently disposed togethenand a plurality of heat welds 224 are made across the width of the sheets. The length ofthe heat welds 224 are such that small air passages are left between adjacent ones of the air chambers formed between the heat welds.

The edges of the two sheets are joined by heat welds 226 and 228. The welded edge 228 is then folded over a bend line 230 and joined as by heat welding to a line 232 to form the independent air chamber comprising.

in FIG. 13. Air valve stems 'are then inserted into the I 7 various chambers and a circular bottom sheet 240 is then welded around the periphery thereof to the lower portion of the device to, complete assemblyuwhen deflated, the present'enclosure may be compressed into very small space for'ease of packaging and storage.

FIG. 15 diagrammatically illustrates a safety feature for use with the inflatable enclosures of the invention. A sidewall portion 2420f the type previously described with respect to FIGS.. 13 and 14 is illustrated, along with a safety ring 244 which'may be either of the inflatable type or may comprise a'solid plastic ring. A plurality of loops 246 are attached to the inner wall 242. A rigid plastic rod 248 is attached at the bottom portion 250 to the bottom layer 252 of the enclosure. In case of accidental deflation of the sidewall 242, it will be seen that the safety ring 244 will be guided downwardly along the rod 248 to eliminate any possibility of danger to the patient.

FIG. 16 illustrates asectional view ofa portion of the sidewall of the enclosure shown in FIG. 3 according to another embodiment. Air pockets 256 and 258 are formed by flexible plastic sheets 260 and 262 in the manner previously described. Sheets 260 and 262 are joined by heat welds at locations 264. In this. embodiment, however, a solid plastic rod 266 is located along the heat welds between the two air chambers 256 and 258. In the construction of an enclosure such as shown in FIG. 13, a plurality of such rods 266 are disposed around the periphery of the enclosure, thereby providing the increased rigidity to the structure. As the rods are not connected to one another, the enclosure may still be deflated and folded into a'very s'mall compact package.

FIG. 17 illustrates another embodiment of the circular'oxygen tent utilizing two independent sets of air chambers. An upper annular air chamber 280 is filled by an air valve stem 282 and communicates at shorttube sections 284 with alternate vertical sidewall air chambers 286. A lower annular air chamber. 288 may be inflated through an air valve stem 290 and communicates via short inlet tubes 292 with alternate vertical sidewall air chambers 294. Air chambers'286 and 294 are formed in the same manner as that described with I respect to FIG. 13 by heat welding together a pair of adjacent disposed plastic sheets. 7

An aperture 296 is 'defined in the side of the enclosure for admission of the head of a patient and a sheath 298 is provided for sealing against the patient. A bottom portion 300 comprises a plurality of air chambers defined by spaced apart parallel wells. The bottom 300 thus provides a built-in cushioning surface for the patient. An inlet hose 302 admits a supply of oxygen and humidity in order to provide the controlled atmosphere within the enclosure. The construction of FIG. 17 is somewhat similar to the construction of the rectangular enclosures shown in FIG. 8, and provides a degree of safety in case of accidental deflation of one of the independent sets of air chambers.

FIG. 18 illustrates another embodiment of the invention somewhat similar to that shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. In FIG. 18, a circular oxygen tent is illustrated which is constructed from an outer circular wall 310, an intermediate circular wall 312 and an inner circular wall 314. An independent air chamber is thus formed between walls 310 and 31-2, while a second independent air chamber is formed between walls 312 and 314. Air is admitted to one of the air chambers via an air inlet valve stem 316 and air is admitted into a second independent air chamber via an air inlet valve stem 318. An inlet hose 320 admits oxygen and moisture into the enclosure. An upper safety ring 322 is provided which may be inflated via an air valve stem 324 for additional safety. An opening is defined in the side of the enclosure for admission of a patient and a sheath 326 is provided to seal against the patients body to prevent loss of the atmosphere therein.

FIG. 19 illustrates a circular oxygen tent according to the invention with a plurality of one-way air valves defined between adjacent chambers. The walls of the circular oxygen tent are formed by heat welds 330 which join together a pair of flexible plastic sheets in the manner previously described. Each of the heat welds 330 terminate short of the total length of the circular wall to provide an air inlet into the adjacent air chamber. A flexible member 332 is attached at one end to each of the heat welds and is disposed in the area between adjacent air chambers.

The flexible members 332 are constructed such that when air is admitted into the sidewalls of the enclosure via an air valve stem 334, air may pass one-way past the flexible members 332. Once the sidewalls are inflated, however, if a leak occurs in the sidewall, the members 332 act as one-way air check valves to tend to prevent air flow in an opposite direction to reduce air leakage from adjacent air chambers. An inflatable safety ring 336 is disposed around the top of the enclosure and may be inflated through a valve stem 338 aspreviously described. Openings are defined in the enclosure to admit the head of a patient and a sheath 340 is provided to seal against air leakage from the enclosure. Oxygen and humidity are admitted via an inlet tube 342. v

In both the incubator and oxygen tents of the invention, conditioned air may be continuously pumped into the confined air space of the enclosure, thereby continuously inflating the chamber. Holes may be defined around the inner surface of the enclosure so that the conditioned'air passes into the patient enclosure in order to give an even distribution of conditioned air within the enclosure. In this'embodiment, a continuous pumping source of air is required to prevent deflation of the enclosure.

Whereas the present invention has been described with respect to specific embodiments thereof, it will be understood that various changes and modifications will be suggested to one skilled in the art, and it is intended to encompass such changes and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

1. An inflatable oxygen tent enclosure for a patient comprising: 1

bottom, top and side portions joined to form an enclosure for a volume of atmosphere dimensioned to receive the head of a patient,

an aperture in said side portions for receiving the head portion of a patient,

said side portions constructed from air chambers which when inflated maintain said side portions in an upright position,

said top portion having an opening defined therein,

and

a rigid circular member disposed about the periphery of said opening for maintaining the shape of said opening regardless of the state of inflation of said air chambers in said side portions. 7 g 2. The inflatable enclosure of claim .1 wherein said rigid circular member comprises:

an independent air chamber disposed about the periphery of said opening and capable when in-v flated to maintain the shape of said opening.

3. The inflatable enclosure of claim 1 comprising a supply of oxygen connectable to the side portion for admission of oxygen into said tent.

4. An inflatable oxygen tent comprising:

bottom, top and side portions joined to enclose a volume of atmosphere dimensioned to treat the head portion of a patient,

said side and bottom portions being constructed from opposed flexible sheets to form air chambers which extend over a substantial area of said bottom and side portions, said air chambers when inflated causing said side portions to. become selfsupporting and forming a confined air barrier about the enclosed volume of atmosphere to reduce radiant energy exchange therethrough,

an opening in one of said side portions for receiving I the head of apatient, an aperture defined in said top portion, and

an inflatable air chamber disposed about the further sheets joined to define a plurality of adjacent interconnected air chambers extending across the width of said sidewall,

inlet means in said sidewall for being connected to a source of pressurized air'wherein said'air cham- Y bers become inflated to make said sidewall upstanding in a generally circular, open-topped configuration,

an opening formed in said sidewall for receiving the head portion of a patient,

means for receiving a supply of oxygen such that a 9. The patient enclosure of claim 8 wherein said rods are rigidly connected to said sidewall.

10. The patient enclosure of claim 8 wherein said rods are disposed'through loop portions connected to said sidewall.

l 1. An inflatable oxygen tent comprising:

volume of atmosphere dimensioned to treat the head portion of a patient,

said side and bottom portions being constructed from opposed flexible sheets to form air chambers which extend over a substantial area of said bottom and side portions, said air chambers when inflated causing said side portions to become selfsupporting and forming a confined air barrier about the enclosed volume of atmosphere to reduce radiant energy'exchangetherethrough,

an opening in one of said side portions for receiving the head of a patient, and safety means comprising at least a pair of independent air chambers each capable of supporting said side portions in an upright position when inflated to thereby maintain the upright position of said side portions in the event of deflation of a portion of said air chambers.

12. The inflatable oxygen tentof claim 11 and 20 further comprising:

bottom, top and'side portions joined toenclose a means for supplying oxygen to said tent, and means for supplying controlled amounts of moisture to said tent. Y

I! k I. l i

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Classifications
U.S. Classification128/205.26, 135/117, 600/22, 52/2.19, 135/87, D25/2, D24/163, 135/115
International ClassificationA61G10/04, A61G11/00
Cooperative ClassificationA61G10/04, A61G11/00, A61G11/009
European ClassificationA61G11/00, A61G10/04