US 3776223 A
A hydrotherapy bath for treatment of a patient by immersion. The bath includes a tank of sufficient volume to hold a treating liquid in which an arm, leg, or the entire body of a patient may be immersed. The tank may be either free floating or mounted at a fixed position. The patient is suspended in the treating liquid by a device which is supported independent of the tank and is therefore free floating with respect to the tank.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent [191 Yeager et al.
2,904,037 9/1959 3,585,991 6/1971 Balamuth.. 3,455,299 7/1969 Gerow Central Ave., Sioux City, Iowa 51108; Richard F. Krage, 47 W.
Primary Examiner--Lawrence W. Trapp AttorneyMarkva & Smith Geary St., Stockton, Calif. 95204; Benjamin Melvin Wilhite, San Mateo, Calif.
 Filed: Sept. 21, 1971 ABSTRACT (Under Rule 47)  App]. No.: 182,395
A hydrotherapy bath for treatment of a patient by immersion. The bath includes a tank of sufficient volume  us. Cl. 128/66 10 hold a treating liquid in which an g, or the  Int. A6111 9/00 entire y f a p i n m y be immersed. The tank 128/66, 369; 4/178, may be either free floating or mounted at a fixed posi-  Field of Search 4/171 tion. The patient is suspended in the treating liquid by a device which is supported independent of the tank and is therefore free floating with respect to the tank.
 References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 128/66 16 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures Salsbury.........
PAIENIEDUEC 4197a SHEET 36? 3 FIG. 4
IN VE N TORS B. MELVIN WILHITE, HAROLD E. YEAGER 8 RICHARD F. KRAGE BY 44 m FIG. 9
ATTORNEYS HYDROTHERAPY BATH WITH WAVE ENERGY PRODUCING MECHANISM BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION This invention relates to a hydrotherapy bath and relates more particularly to a bath in which a part of a body, such as arms or legs, or a major portion of a body in which all but the head of an individual to be treated, is immersed. The hydrotherapy bath includes means for suspending the individual in the bath, and means for subjecting the external surface portion of the individual to the therapeutic benefits of body massage by wave energy impulses of controlled variable frequencies and amplitudes.
Other hydrotherapy baths have been utilized heretofore. However, all such devices have relied upon various mechanical arrangements to impart motion to the liquid material within the bath by controlled surges of agitated flowing fluid or low frequency waves of relatively small pressure differential or shock waves of positive pressure characteristics such as not to produce a cavitation effect on the return stroke of the wave gen erating mechanism.
US. Pat. No. 3,347,225 discloses a hydrotherapy bath having a wave producing diaphragm which is an PURPOSE OF THE INVENTION lt is a primary object of the instant invention to provide a hydrotherapy bath which controls the frequency of the wave energy impulses to the liquid material therewithin from zero through continuously increased variations to the high frequency range but not limited to 1,000 cycles per second.
Another object of this invention is to provide a means forvarying the length of stroke or amplitude of force output whereby the intensity of the wave energy impulse may be varied reciprocally with or independent of the frequency.
A further object of the instant invention is the provision of a hydrotherapy bath having a substantially rigid walled tank means defining a chamber fully free floating on vibration units or solidly mounted on a base, the bath being of sufficient'size for total immersion of a patient or immersion of an arm, leg, hand, or foot, and a diaphragm assembly means including a resilient diaphragm for transmitting wave energy impulses to the fluid medium.
A still further object of the instant invention is to provide a hydrotherapy bath having a diaphragm means carrying a variable speed motor mounted on a nonconductive base such that the direction of forces generated by the vibrating mechanism may be varied from the vertical axis to the diaphragm to achieve stability, and a control means for varying the speed of the vibrating mechanism motor.
1 A further object of the instant invention is the provision of a semi-inclined contour seat--termed a Fowler seat-supporting an individual with a portion or all but the head of the individuals body totally immersed in the liquid material of the bath for the large unit; a bicycle type seat or other means for the leg or arm model;
and a sling orhammock for the hand, lower arm, or foot model; whereby all models are such that the sup port of body or body parts is independent of the tank confining the liquid material.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The device of the instant invention is particularly designed to provide wave energy pulsations from the ultra low frequency ranges and relatively large amplitudes to high frequency ranges with extremely low amplitudes, or any variable combination desired, all imposed upon a free floating or fixed tank, whichever type is selected. The device as presented herein comprises a tank means defining a chamber containing a predetermined volume of fluid, a means for full floating or stationary mounting of the tank, and means for total or partial body immersion by a full floating arrangement. A diaphragm assembly means is connected to the tank with one surface in contact with the liquid therein. Reciprocating means is operatively connected to the diaphragm assembly means to impart a series of wave energy impulses of varying frequency and amplitude.
The hydrotherapy bath apparatus disclosed herein includes a support means for suspending the patient in the chamber independently of the tank so that the suspending means is maintained free-floating with respect to the tank. This structure allows the tank to be freefloating with respect to a fixed reference point thereby providing a more versatile device than known heretofore in the prior art. The wave energy impulses set up by the device of this invention exert a very effective therapy massage on the immersed surfaces of the patient. The therapy operator can, through close control of frequency and amplitude, achieve within defined parameters, the precise effect desired depending on the nature of the injury, disease, or other condition of the patient. Effective and curative therapy may be accomplished by the introduction of therapeutic chemicals to the bath fluid, the maintaining of proper bath temperatures and by proper regulation of the frequency and amplitude impulses imposed upon: the skin surfaces of the patient. High frequency impulses impinging on the skin surface stimulate body tissues to varying depths resulting in effective relief and therapy. In the case of burns, wounds and surface lesions, the impulses aid in sloughing off infectious matter. Low frequency impulses and forces generated by fast flowing fluids caused by general agitation of the bath fluid are not nearly so effective as in the instant invention.
The principles involved in the instant invention are used successfully in the treatment of crippling diseases of children, in the aging process, diseases of the joints, infectious skin irritations and allergies, nerve disorders, in orthopedic deficiencies, massive burns, hemorrhoids, bursitis, rheumatism, arthritis and other inflammatory diseases, for post-operative care, muscular damage, bruises, plastic surgery, etc. The introduction of chemicals such as Burrows solution, Dakins solution, acetic acid, peroxide, epsom salts and others assist in the therapy. The instant invention is an effective therapeutic tool to be used in therapy clinics, hospitals, gymnasiums, athletic locker rooms, rest homes, convalescent homes, senior citizen communities, orthopedic and post-operative care areas and institutions, as well as doctors offices and homes and in industrial or governmental dispensaries.
In order to provide maximum efficienty of the hydrotherapy bath and to meet all the requirements neces sary in the field of hydrotherapy in all its known applications and those applications not yet known, the instant inventive device may include all the elements essential to such ends. These elements include the fullfloating tank and its containing fluid, a semi-inclining adjustable contour seat capable of immersing and raising an individual, a seat raising and lowering mechanism, and an external supporting means for the fullfloating seat. The device includes a vibrating diaphragm, means for generating and imparting wave energy impulses to the bath fluid via the diaphragm, and a means for automatically varying the frequency and amplitude of the impulses. Means are provided for filling and draining the bath fluid and for maintaining bath temperature. Means are present for cleaning the bath and introducing chemicals. A full console control system is used for controlling all functions. All of the elements of the device are enclosed within an aesthetic skirting or cover and structural support to provide a self-contained, ready-to-operate hydrotherapy bath unit.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS Other objects of this invention will appear in the following description and appended claims, reference being made to the accompanying drawings forming a part of the specification wherein like reference characters designate corresponding parts in the several views.
FIG. 1 is a top sectional view of the hydrotherapy bath made in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a side sectional view of the hydrotherapy bath of FIG. 1;
FIG. 2a is a fragmentary elevational view of a control console for a hydrotherapy bath made in accordance with this invention;
FIG. 3 is a fragmentary top plan view of the equipment cubicle of the hydrotherapy bath with the manipulating elements of controls above the cover in solid lines and the vital elements of tubing and parts below in dotted lines;
FIG. 4 is a fragmentary, enlarged sectional view of the diaphragm assembly means along line 4--4 of FIG.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged view along line 5-5 of FIG. 4; FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of the device of FIG.
FIG. 7 is a fragmentary section of composite features of the device made in accordance with this invention taken along line 7-7 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 8 is a fragmentary elevation taken along line 88 of FIG. 1;
FIG. 9 is a plan sectional view along line 99 of FIG.
FIG. 10 is a fragmentary sectional view of a modification of the diaphragm assembly means as shown in FIG. 4.
DESCRIPTION OF SPECIFIC EMBODIMENTS More specifically, a hydrotherapy bath, generally designated 21, comprises a tank 22 defining a chamber therein, a diaphragm assembly means, generally designated 25, connected to the tank 22, a reciprocating means 26 operatively connected to the diaphragm means 25 and a seat 28 flotably mounted in the tank 22.
The tank 22 includes walls 44 and bottom 45 which define a chamber. The outside surfaces of the walls 44 and bottom 45 are coated with a thermo insulation 46 as illustrated in FIG. 8 and are made of a non-corrosive material.
The tank 22 may be made full floating by means of a system of vibration isolators 40 illustrated in FIGS. 2 and 7. A plurality of isolators 40 may be mounted on structural supports 45a extending the full width of the tank bottom 45 by means of integral pads 45b. These isolators 40 are mounted on bases 40b which are of varying height to compensate for the slope of the tank 22 necessary for proper drainage. Each of the vibration isolators 40 is selected to provide the proper dampening effect based on the range frequency and static load to which it is imposed. The bases 40b may be secured to the structural hydrotherapy bath base 43, if necessary.
Liquid material 24 is introduced into the tank 22 by means of filling system 37 illustrated generally in FIGS. 1 and 2 and specifically in FIG. 3. Hot water is introduced into the tank 22 through valve 37d and cold water through valve37e. The temperature of the water introduced into the tank 22 is controlled by properly proportioning the flow rates of these two streams of water. This proportioning can be accomplished either automatically by means of thermostatic mixing valve 37a or manually be regulating valves 37b and 370 which control the hot and cold water systems, respectively. The blended liquid stream then flows through pipe 37f and chamber filling spout 37g into the tank 22. In an emergency, the tank 22 may be filled manually using the optional cleanup means described below.
A temperature control system, such as that illustrated in FIG. 3, may be provided to compensate for the heat loss resulting from radiation and evaporation from the surface of the liquid 24 thereby lowering the temperature therein. In operation, hot water valves 38a and 38b are open and connected to a thermostatic flow valve 38d which is in turn connected via connecting line 38f to a thermostatic element 57 submerged in the liquid material 24. Valve 38d is activated at a preset temperature. When the temperature of the liquid material drops below this value, the valve 38d opens permitting hot water to flow through piping 38e into the liquid chamber 23.
Any overflow resulting from the activation of the temperature control device is handled by sump pump unit 36. Drain line 36a bypasses main drain pump 35 and empties into the sump well of the pump 36. The discharge line 360 from the sump pump 36 connects to the main discharge line 35b. Solenoid valve 36b in bypass line 36a is interlocked electrically with the electric circuit of the main drain pump 35. When the pump 35 is not running, the solenoid valve 36b is opened allowing the overflow from the chamber to enter the sump pump 36. The float actuated pump 36 discharges all such overflow water to the building waste via conduits 36c and 35b.
The liquid material may be rapidly moved from the tank 22 through a force drainage system as illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 2. The drainage system comprises a close-coupled drainage pump 35 having an electric motor and pump on a single shaft, a pop-up drain 47 and overflow 47a on the tank 22. The drain 47 and overflow 47a are connected through a flexible suction hose 35a to the suction side of the pump 35. The suction hose 35a contains a flow switch 35c which automatically shuts down the drainage pump 35 when the liquid material no longer flows from the chamber 23.
Chemicals may be introduced into the bath through a perforated, hollow tube 58 composed of material such as plastic or stainless steel illustrated in FIG. 1. The tube 58 may have a bell mouth opening which is level with the top of the tank 22 and afiixed thereto. The tube 58 should extend to near the bottom of the chamber 23. Dry or liquid chemicals funneled into the tube 58 are quickly diffused into the liquid material 24.
A cleanup means for washing down the inside of chamber 23 and seat 28 may be provided. The cleanup means comprises a hose line 48c which has an adjustable nozzle 48 and is connected to a source of hot and cold water. The hose 480 may be used to fill the bath in an emergency. The connection of hose 48c with hot and cold water supplies is shown in FIG. 3.
When a patient is lowered into the chamber 23, the liquid material level rises as a result of the displacement volume of the human body. To prevent under or overfilling of the chamber 23, a series of filling markings 56, illustrated in FIG. 2, may be provided on the tank wall. Each marker represents the height to which the chamber 23'should be filled when a person of a designated weight is to be placed in the bath. If the tank 22 is filled to the designated level, the liquid level should rise to a predetermined level which is substantially even with the overflow fitting 47a when a patient of the designated weight is submerged. Separate scale markings should be provided for men, women and children. A measuring stick may be provided in place of the wall markings.
The diaphragm assembly means 25 of FIG. 2 is shown in more detail in FIGS. 4 and 10. In FIG. 4, the diaphragm 25c consists of a resilient tank end well. .In the embodiment of FIG. 10, an independent elastic diaphragm 25d consists of an elastic membrane such as neoprene, rubber or the like and is in surface contact with the liquid material 24 through a hole in tank wall 44. The diaphragm 25d is reinforced by a plate 25a which is contiguous to the membrane. The resilient membrane forms a watertight seal with the tank wall 24. Alternatively, the diaphragm may be placed in a horizontal position at the bottom of the tank 22 wherein the wave energy pulsations are directed in a vertical direction. Additionally, multiple diaphragms may be used.
Reciprocating means may beattached to the diaphragm 250 as shown in FIG. 4. Rods 25b are secured to the vibrating diaphragm 25c at one end thereof and to an electrically non-conductive vibration means mounting plate 25e at the other end thereof. The vibrating force axis is generally vertical to the diaphragm means. However, this axis may be made slightly at an angle with respect to the vertical direction to precisely balance the variations which occur in manufacturing by proper adjustment of the mounting means. As an alternate to location of the vibrating unit at the end of the tank 22, the principle being the same and all other things being equal, the vibrating unit or units may be located on the bottom of the tank 22 to direct the wave energy forces upward. Vibrating units may be both vertically and horizontally mounted at both locations to achieve therapy in several directions as selected.
Any conventional reciprocating means may be used to induce pulsations in the fluid medium. In FIGS. 1, 2 and 5, an electric motor 26 has a double shaft 26c having an eccentric cam 26a at either end thereof. A slot 26b is used for adjustment of the eccentricity of the cam 260. Electric motor 26 is of the variable speed type controlled by an external variable type controller. The speed and frequency may be varied from zero to a high frequency in the range of 1,000 cycles per second. The wave energy impulses may be varied in frequency and amplitude by adjusting the position of eccentric cam 26a. A self-contained electromagnetic vibrator with appropriate controls may alternatively be utilized. Such a unit provides impulse frequency varitions from zero to high frequency, and high amplitudes or stroke control from a maximum to a minimum. By means of such a mechanism, frequency and stroke amplitude can be varied independently of each other by separate and independent controls.
The seat 28, known as a Fowler seat, illustrated in FIGS. 1 and. 2, comprises a frame 28a of a rigid, tubular construction having a lower leg, upper leg and back segments fixed at specific angles. It is pivotally mounted at the foot end to support 29 to permit rotation about a substantially horizontal axis. The height of the pivotal support 29 may be adjusted by changing the position of its attachment to independent supporting means 41. The head end of the frame 28a is rotatably connected to rigid bars 30a. The other ends of the rigid bars 30:: terminate at a double roller device as shown in FIGS. 9 and 9a. In this embodiment, pivot pin 300 permits rollers 30b to rotate. A lifting eye 30d fixed to the rigid bar 30a is in turn attached to a nylon or nonconductive cord or rope 31. As the seat 28 is raised or lowered, the double rollers 30b restrain the movement of the link 30a to a vertical plane by guide chamber members 30 of the seat supporting means 41a. An open mesh nylon or other material 28e is woven in the form of a bag or sleeve and is slipped tightly over the seat frame 28a to form a semi-elastic hammock for supporting the patients body. The open mesh allows the full therapy treatment on all surfaces of the skin of the patient as provided by the wave energy impulses of the hydrotherapy bath mechanism. An adjustable headrest 28f supports the patients head. The semi-reclining Fowler seat 28 permits total emergence of the patients body. Pivotal joints may also be provided in the segments of the frame 280 to permit various angular positions between the adjoining segments. The seat 28 suspends the patient in a full floating attitude with reference to the full or partially full floating tank 22.
A bicycle type seat or other means can be substituted for the Fowler seat 28 when a bath for immersing a leg or arm is utilized. Likewise, a hammock or sling can be substituted for the seat 28 when it is desired to immerse only the hand, lower arm or foot of the patient. Naturally, different size baths can be used depending upon the applications of the unit.
Seat 28 is suspended in the tank 22 by independent support means 41 and 41a consisting of structural arms external to the tank 22 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. The arms 41 and 41a supported by the main structure base 43 are looped over the top edge of the tank 22 and extend into the liquid material. The supports 41 include pivotably adjustable means at the foot end of the hydrotherapy bath and the arms 41a include guide channels 30 at the head end of the tank 22. The construction of supports 41 and 41a is thereby such that the patient is in a free, full floating attitude with reference to the tank containing the liquid material.
The seat operating mechanism consists of a series of rope sheaves 31a positioned to guide cord 31 to rope winding drums 32. The mechanism can be powered by any conventional means, such as a reversible electric motor. Limit switches may be provided to shut off the motor automatically when the seat 28 reaches the extreme lower or upper positions. A movable hand crank 58 is provided to manually operate the seat 28 in this specific embodiment.
A console 39 containing substantially all of the controls necessary to operate the hydrotherapy bath may be provided. Conventional methods of placing control knobs for time, temperature, vibrations per minute, onoff switches for motors and the like may be used in the construction of such a console. The control console 39 is located at the foot end of the bath unit 21 in this specific embodiment. The control console 39 of this em bodiment includes an emergency warning system having a red light 39a. In addition, an alarm bell may be provided which also operates when the red light 39a is activated. The emergency system is activated when the chamber 23 empties through the flow switch 35c located in the main drainage line 35a. The emergency system may also be operated by the patient by pressing the push button switch 3912 located on the left rim of the skirting 42.
An equipment cubicle 62, illustrated in FIGS. 1, 2 and 3, consisting of a closure support for all the mechanisms may be provided at the head end of the hydrotherapy bath. The vibrating mechanisms 25, main drainage pump means 35, overflow sump pump 36, seat raising and lowering mechanisms 32, 33 and 34, utilities, supply piping and connections to building surfaces at the building wall 54 may be located in the cubicle 62. Access door 60 is provided at the sides of the cubicles 62 for maintenance. The top 50 supports various valve controls for the filling system 37, temperature maintaining system 38 and cleanup means 48. Additionally, the main electric supply 51, fresh air intake screens 42a and outlet air screen 42b which provide ventilation for the operational components are also provided in the cubicle.
A bottom structural framework 43 is provided to support the hydrotherapy bath. The structuralbase 43 also serves as a framework for the attachment of the protective skirting 42 and further servies as a base for the force imposed by vibrating and moving components. The hydrotherapy bath may be made mobile by providing for retractable castors 49. Conventional retractable mechanisms may be used for the castors 49.
Enclosing the tank 22 and equipment cubicle 62 is a protective skirting 42 as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 7. The skirting 42 consists of prefabricated rigid sheets or molded sheets of suitable materials of exterior finish to match or be compatible with building architecture. The skirting 42 covers the length of the hydrotherapy unit with cutouts and access units located as needed, and is formed so as to overhang the tank rim 22a. As shown in FIG. 8, there is sufficient clearance to prevent con- 6 hangs the inner surface of the tank wall 44 so as to exclude material from entering the space 63 between the tank insulation 46 and skirting 42.
An additional feature is the removable body rest 52, illustrated in FIG. 1, which comprises a shelf means flush with the top overhang of the skirting 42, on which the patient may momentarily rest his body in entering or leaving the Fowler seat 28.
While the hydrotherapy bath with wave energy producing mechanism has been shown and described in detail, it is obvious that this invention is not to be considered as being limited to the exact form disclosed, and that changes in detail and construction may be made therein within the scope of the invention, without departing from the spirit thereof.
Having thus set forth and disclosed the nature of this invention, what is claimed is:
l. A hydrotherapy bath apparatus for treatment by immersion comprising:
a. tank means defining a chamber with walls and a bottom of sufficient size to hold a sufficient volume of liquid to immerse at least a part of a patient, said tank means being free floating with respect to a fixed reference point,
12. diaphragm means for effecting vibrations within said liquid,
0. one surface of said diaphragm means defining a portion of the inner surface of said chamber,
d. a reciprocating means operatively connected to said diaphragm means,
e. means for suspending a patient in said chamber,
f. means for supporting said suspending means independently of said tank means so that said suspending means is maintained free floating with respect to said tank means.
2. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein said diaphragm means comprises a portion of one of the chamber walls to which said reciprocating means is operatively connected.
3. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein the diaphragm means comprises an elastic membrane forming a liquid-tight seal over a hole in one of the chamber walls,
said reciprocating means being connected to said elastic membrane.
4. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein said reciprocating means comprises means for varying the frequency and amplitude of the impulses imparted to the diaphragm,
said frequency and amplitude being variable independently of each other.
5. The hydrotherapy bath of claim 4 wherein said means for varying the frequency and amplitude is adapted to vary the frequency from zero to approximately 1,000 cycles per second and the amplitude from approximately 0.25 to 0.02 inch.
6. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein said tank means comprises walls and a bottom of a non-corrosive material,
the outer surface of said walls and bottom being I coated with a thermoinsulating material.
7. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein said patient suspending means includes a means for raising and lowering the patient into said chamber. 8. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 7 wherein one end of said patient suspending means is pivotally mounted on a support and the other end may be raised or lowered into the chamber. 9. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 8 wherein said support for said pivotally mounted end of said suspending means includes means for pivotally mounting said patient suspending means at different heights. 10. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 9 wherein said patient suspending means comprises a Fowler seat, and the foot end of said seat is pivotally mounted and the head end can be raised and lowered. 11. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 10 wherein said Fowler seat comprises a rigid tubular frame over which is stretched an open mesh material. 12. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 10 wherein said Fowler seat may be adjusted at varying angles. 13. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 9 wherein said patient suspending means comprises a sling. 14. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein means are attached to the tank means to fill the chamber with a liquid at a fixed temperature. 15. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein means are connected to the tank means to maintain the temperature of the liquid contained in the chamber at a fixed temperature. 16. The hydrotherapy bath as defined in claim 1 wherein a housing is disposed around the tank means to enclose all operational systems associated with the apparatus.