US 3771176 A
A bathtub cushion lift is provided which has an inflatable shell adapted to be positioned on the floor of a bathtub and to be connected to the bathtub spout or faucet. Water under pressure is fed through the bathtub spout into the inflatable shell to selectively inflate it to its full elevation, wherein its supporting surface is elevated to the approximate height of the bathtub walls to provide a secure cushion-like support that can then be utilized as a seat upon which a person desirous of taking a bath may sit. Once seated on the cushion-like supporting surface the person may swing his legs over the bathtub wall and deflate the cushion whereby he is gradually lowered to the floor of the bathtub. After the bath, the shell can once again be filled to elevate the user upwardly to the top of the bathtub walls where by simply swinging his legs over the bathtub wall he can get out of the bathtub.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Herman, Sr. 7
[451 Nov. 13, 1973 BATHTUB CUSHION LIFT  Inventor: Harry H. Herman, Sr., 10281 E. Bay Harbor Dr., Bay Harbor Island,
Miami Beach, Fla. 33154  Filed: May 21, 1971  Appl. No.: 145,712
 U.S. Cl 4/185 L  Int. Cl A47k 3/12  Field of Search 4/185 S, 185 L, 185 R, 4/191, 192
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 2,725,578 12/1955 Keller 4/185 L 3,346,885 10/1967 Merriman. 4/185 L 3.311.930 4/1967 Bourke 4/185 L R10,157 7/1882 Burke 4/192 Rl9,77l 12/1935 Crosbie. 4/192 2,817,096 12/1957 Roth 4/185 L 3,026.541 3/1962 Murat 4/185 L Primary ExaminerWilliam 1. Price Assistant ExaminerDonald B. Massenberg Attorney-Robert E. Isner and Peter J. Franco [5 7] ABSTRACT A bathtub cushion lift is provided which has an inflatable shell adapted to be positioned on the floor of a bathtub and to be connected to the bathtub spout or faucet. Water under pressure is fed through the bathtub spout into the inflatable shell to selectively inflate it to its full elevation, wherein its supporting surface is elevated to the approximate height of the bathtub walls to provide a secure cushion-like support that can then be utilized as a seat upon which a person desirous of taking a bath may sit. Once seated on the cushionlike supporting surface the person may swing his legs over the bathtub wall and deflate the cushion whereby he is gradually lowered to the floor of the bathtub. After the bath, the shell can once again be filled to clevate the user upwardly to the top of the bathtub walls where by simply swinging his legs over the bathtub wall he can get out of the bathtub.
5 Claims,.7 Drawing Figures IAIENIEDNUYIBIQYS 3.771.176
INVENTOR. HARRY H. HERMAN ATTORNEY BATHTUB CUSHION LIFT The present invention relates to an improved cushion lift device for facilitating the introduction and removal of a user thereof from a bathtub.
The taking of baths by expectant mothers, the handicapped, convalescents and the elderly or infirm can be both difficult and hazardous. Not only do such individuals find it extremely difficult to lower themselves into and upon completion of the bath to pull themselves out of the bathtub, but the inherently slippery nature of the conventional bathtub surfaces markedly increase the difficulties involved and the chances of a disabling accident. I
This invention may be briely described as a selectively constituted inflatable shell, which is adapted to provide a stable and secure cushionlike supporting surface upon which a person who is about to enter the bathtub may sit and which while. being deflated operates to lower such person to the floor of the bathtub where a bath may be taken. After the bath, the shell may be reinflated to elevate the user to a suitable location where he may get out of the tub with minimal effort and risk. The inflation of the shell beyond a predetermined level is precluded by inclusion of a single and inexpensive safety valve construction so that the shell cannot be ruptured by the inadvertent application of excessive water pressure thereto.
Among the advantages of the present invention is the provision of an improved bathtub cushion lift assembly which can be inflated by water from the bathtub faucet and which can be compactly stored when not in use.
A still further advantage of this invention is the provision of an improved bathtub cushion lift assembly for effecting selective vertical displacement of a cushionlike supporting surface and whose rupture is precluded even though it is advertently connected to a pressurized water source supplying fluid to the shell at a pressure exceeding the maximum pressure for which the shell was designed.
Accordingly, the principal object of the present invention is the provision of an'improved bathtub cushion lift assembly which is simple in design, and completely safe for use in entering and leaving a bathtub.
Another object of the present invention is the provision of an improved bathtub cushion lift assembly which, essentially structureless and formless when deflated, provides a stable and secure cushion-like supporting surface upon which the person can be elevated from the bathtub floor to the top of the bathtub walls or can be lowered from the top of the bathtub walls to the floor of the bathtub.
Other objects and advantages will become apparent from the following portion of the specification and from the accompanying drawings which illustrate, in accord with the mandate of the patent statutes, presently preferred embodiments incorporating the principles of the invention.
Referring to the drawings:
FIG. 1 is an oblique view of a bathtub having a cushion lift assembly of this invention disposed in inflated condition therein.
FIG. 2 is a top view of a portion of the bathtub and cushion lift illustrated in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view of the bathtub and cushion lift as constituted at the line 33 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4' is a cross-sectional view of the cushion lift as constituted at the line 4-4 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 5 is an elevational view of an alternative structure to that illustrated in FIG. 4.
FIG. 6 is a top view of the cushion lift as constituted at the line 6-6 of FIG. 1.
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a bathtub with a cushion lift of this invention having a second preferred embodiment.
Referring to the drawings and particularly to FIG. 1, there is illustrated a conventionally configured horizontal bathtub 10 having a floor l2 and essentially vertical sidewalls 14. Water, whose temperature is controllable by hot and cold valves 16, is introduced into the tub through a common faucet or spout 18 at the ambient available pressure of the water supply system, which can be quite high in certain water supply systems.
The improved cushion lift assembly broadly includes a selectively shaped inflatable shell 20, a sleeve valve generally designated 22 and included in a length of filler tubing 24 which also includes a pressure relief valve 26 and an elastic sleeve 28 and associated sealing means adapted to snugly fit over the bathtub spout 18 and to be secured thereto in essentially watertight relation.
The shell 20 is suitably formed of highly flexible sheet material of requisite strength and of limited elasticity. Suitable materials include resinous water impervious sheet materials, such as vinyl sheet or the like. Such shell 20 is preferably constituted so as to be of generally rectangular polyhedron shape when in inflated condition, and of a transverse dimension that will compressively engage the side walls of the tub with which it is to be used. As will be later pointed out, its effective length can be such as to form either a seat type unit occupying only a portion of the tub length in inflated condition or a full length body supporting unit that will occupy substantially the full length of the tub. Such transverse dimensioning when coupled with the use of sheet material of requisite strength and limited elasticity will effectively function to limit the displacement of the upper cushion-like supporting surface thereof to the vertical direction, while still permitting the latter, even if of planar character, to roughly conform to body contours and to provide a relatively stable and secure body supporting surface or platform during such vertical displacement. Water under pressure for shell inflation is supplied to the cushion lift through the tub spout 18. Such water will pass through the elastic sleeve 28, the pressure relief valve 26, the length of filler tube 24 and the sleeve valve 22 into the inflatable shell 20. The tubing 24 may suitably comprise corrugated l-inch nonkink tubing and is connected by a standard connector 58 to the shell connector 59. Any air which is either present in the deflated shell or which is introduced thereinto as a part of the incoming water stream may escape through automatic relief valves 29 in the form of, button screens having a bottom layer of foam rubber secured to the bottom thereof. These automatic air relief valves release the air while preventing the discharge of the water from within the shell. When the pressure of the water within the shell reaches a predetermined level, the safety or pressure relief valve 26 opens. This prevents a pressure build-up within the shell beyond 1 that level thereby protecting the shell from rupture or other failure due to excessive pressure.
As can be seen in FIGS. 2 and 3, when the shell is inflated to a predetermined pressure of approximately one pound per square inch, which will normally be substantially less than the delivery pressure of conventional water supply systems, the upper supporting surface of the shell will be elevated to a height approximating, or slightly in excess of the height of the bathtub walls 14. Preferably, the upper supporting surface will be selectively molded or contoured to provide a centrally disposed complimental body configured recess forming a seat-like support area for user comfort and for stability during vertical displacement. As previously noted, the shell may be transversely dimensioned so that when it is inflated, the side wall portions thereof will be urged outwardly into compressive engagement with the bathtub walls, thus increasing the stability of the cushion and contributing to the selective vertical displacement of the upper surface thereof. Thus, when a person sits on the cushion, the downward face causes the side wall portions thereof to be urged outwardly and the base thereof downwardly into forcefull engagement with the bathtub walls and floor yet further increasing the stability of the assembly. This is comparatively illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 3 with the dashed lines illustrating the limited displacement of the front and back walls of the inflated shell 20 and the greater displacement of the position of the upper surface thereof after a person has seated himself thereon.
The safety or pressure relief valve 26, as illustrated in detail in FIG. 4, is generally T-shaped in form and includes an intake port 30 which is fixedly joined to the elastic sleeve 28 by a standard connector 32, an outlet port 34 connected by a standard connector 36 to the length of tubing 24 and a pressure relief port 38. A sealing cap 40 is urged into sealing engagement with the face 42 of the pressure relief port by a spring 44 which connects the sealing cap 40 to the interior wall of the safety valve 26. The sealing cap includes a cylindrical sleeve 46 which extends into the pressure relief port. This cylindrical sleeve 46 guides the movement of the sealing cap when the cap is displaced away from the face 42 of the pressure relief port. The sleeve contains an aperture 48 adjacent to the cap which is blocked when the cap is in sealing engagement with the face of the pressure relief port but which is unblocked when the cap is urged out of sealing engagement therewith.
While it is preferred to use a safety valve of the character described, a standpipe 50 (FIG. 5) can be utilized in certain installations for pressure relief purposes. The standpipe has a vertical section 52 extending approximately 16 inches above the top of the cushion, a U- shaped female overflow section 54 and an elbow section 56 which can be connected to a conventional T valve 57 by a standard connector 58. The column of water in the standpipe will be sufficient to provide about a 1 pound back pressure which will enable the shell to be inflated to the desired size but will act to prevent the excessive pressure buildup therein. The static water head of the column of water will be sufficient to prevent the discharge of water through the standpipe when persons weighing up to 250 pounds sit on the top of the fully inflated shell.
Other types of safety valves for preventing pressure build-up may be employed. For example, the safety valve may be in the form of an open vertical pipe having a piston positioned therein, of selected weight and configuration to establish sliding engagement therewith. The piston being located so that when the fluid pressure is less than a predetermined value, it will remain at a fixed position sealing apertures in the vertical pipe, but when the fluid pressure exceeds this value, the piston is elevated thereby unblocking the aperture allowing water to be forced therethrough until the pressure is reduced to the predetermined value.
A conventional sleeve valve 60 as shown in FIG. 6 is included to facilitate deflation of a filled shell. As illustrated, such valve has open and closed positions and can be operated by rotating the sleeve 62 of the valve by control knob 63 one quarter of a turn back and forth about the valve tubing 64. In open position the sleeve and tube holes (66,68) communicate and are selectively sized so that water may be discharged therethrough at a rate which will result in the cushion slowly lowering the person to the bathtub floor. In closed position the sleeve 62 blocks the tube holes 68 thereby preventing the discharge of water from the sleeve valve.
In order to accommodate various configurations of spout elements. 18, the sleeve 28 is formed of elastic material so as to compressively engage in encircling relation the spout member. An auxiliary strip of Velcro or other self-adhering yet separable tape-like material is included thereon so as to wrap around the mounted sleeve and thereby secure the same to the spout for the pressure conditions involved.
An embodiment of the invention especially suitable for use with shower heads is illustrated in FIG. 7. A draw string connection 70 holds the open end of an elongate tube 24 to the shower head 72. Such elongate tube has a section with a flap opening 74 about l8 inches above the top of the inflated shell or cushion 20 to relieve pressure within the cushion at about threequarter to one pound of pressure gravity head.
If desired, the inflated shell or cushion 20' can be sized when inflated to occupy substantially the entire length of the bathtub and to present a substantially flat upper surface so that an invalid or the like could be positioned prone thereon and lowered into the bathtub where by supporting his head on an inflated pillow or the like, a bath may be taken. v
In operation of the described unit, the elastic sleeve 28 at the end of the filling tube 24 is of elastic character and is attached to the spout 18 by means of a wrapping or sleeve of Velcro tape or other self-clinging but readily separable material or the like. Normally, the sleeve valve 22 will be closed during the introduction of water into the inflatable shell. The shell will continue to inflate until it reaches a fully inflated condition and the pressure therewithin builds up to a magnitude equal to the pressure at which the pressure release mechanism will become operable. At this point, the side walls of the shell 20 will compressively engage the walls of the bathtub and the upper surface thereof will be at a height substantially equal to the height of the bathtub walls. A person sits on the side of the bathtub, slides over onto the upper surface of the cushion, swivels his legs over the side of the bathtub, and opens the sleeve valve allowing the water to be discharged from the cushion whereupon the shell will become deflated at a slow rate, thus lowering the person gradually to the floor of the bathtub. The faucet fitting can then be removed or the sleeve valve left open and additional water introduced into the bathtub to achieve the desired water level. Optionally the same person can, prior to using an inflated shell or cushion, of a size markedly less than that of the tub, as illustrated in FIG. 1, allow water to overflow through the pressure relief valve to the level which when combined with the water which will be discharged from the inflated shell will establish the desired water level. When the person desires to get out of the bathtub the sleeve valve is closed, the faucet fitting is replaced in position if it has been removed and the water is turned on causing the shell to again become inflated, and to effect a selectively directed elevation of the person up to the top of the side walls of the bathtub. The person then swivels his legs over a side of the bathtub onto the floor and stands up. The sleeve valve can then be again opened allowing the water to be completely discharged from the shell and the cushion lift can then be removed from the bathtub and compactly stored.
Accessories such as arm rests, a back, straps or other attachments which may themselves be inflatable may be optionally provided by selective contouring of the shell walls or as discrete separate units.
Additionally, while the invention has been illustrated in conjunction with a water supply system, the inflating medium could be a gas such as air or another fluid such as oil supplied to the shell by a compressor or the like.
Having thus described my invention I claim:
1. A cushion lift assembly for use in a bathtub having a horizontally disposed floor portion, a pair of substantially vertical side walls extending upwardly therefrom and spaced a predetermined distance apart and water inlet means,
said assembly comprising an inflatable shell of flexible substantially non-elastic material contoured to be of generally cubic inflated configuration and adapted to be positioned on said floor portion of said bathtub, said inflatable shell including a bottom portion adapted to be disposed in interfacial engagement with said floor portion, a top portion and dependent side wall portions and being selectively sized so that when fully inflated said top portion will be substantially the same height as said bathtub side walls and comprises means for supporting a person seated thereon; and
said side wall portions comprise means for compressively engaging the bathtub side walls whereby said assembly will be securely positioned therebetween,
conduit means for connecting the lower portion of said inflatable shell to said water inlet means to permit introduction of water under pressure therein to inflate the same and after a full inflation thereof to establish a positive water pressure therein,
air vent valve means disposed in said top portion for selectively venting air contained within said shell externally thereof and for permitting said water pressure buildup therein,
a sleeve mounted at the terminal end of said conduit means including self-adhereing separable tape means adapted to compressively encircle said water inlet means in substantially liquid tight'relation,
selectively actuatable water valve means included in said conduit means for effecting discharge of water from said inflated shell,
and presure relief means for limiting the magnitude of the water pressure extant within said inflatable shell.
2. A bathtub cushion lift according to claim 1, wherein said inflatable shell means is structureless and made of a non-stretchable material.
3. A bathtub cushion lift according to claim 1, wherein said pressure relief means comprises a standpipe having an opening at the top thereof.
4. A bathtub cushion lift according to claim 1, wherein said selectively actuatable water valve means comprises a sleeve valve having open and closed positions.-
5. A bathtub cushion lift assembly as set forth in claim 1 wherein said conduit means and terminal sleeve thereon are sized for fluid connection with a shower head water inlet means, and
said pressure relief means is disposed in said conduit means at a predetermined elevation above said inflatable shell to permit the head of water contained within said conduit means intermediate said pressure relief means and said shell to limit the magnitude of the water pressure therewithin.