US 3829915 A
An improved drive bracket connector for use in patient transfer apparatus of the type having a pair of superimposed extensible apron assemblies each including a separator to be coupled to a drive chain. The drive bracket connector allows pivotal separation of the upper of the apron assemblies relative to the lower apron assembly thereby to facilitate cleaning operations as well as use of the apparatus as a bed sheet changing mechanism.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 Dunkin [111 3,829,915 [4 1 Aug. 20, 1974 DRIVE BRACKET CONNECTOR FOR PATIENT TRANSFER APPARATUS  Inventor: Albert Dunkin, South'Norwalk,
 Assignee: Diamondhead Corporation,
 Filed: May 25, 1973  Appl. No.: 364,072
 US. Cl 5/81 R  Int. Cl A6lg 1/02  Field of Search 5/81 R, 81 B  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,493,979 2/l970 Koll et al 5/81 B 3,579,672 5/1971 Koll et al. 5/81 R 3,765,037 l0/l973 Dunkin .5/8lR Primary Examiner-Bobby R Gay Assistant Examiner-l(enneth J. Dorner Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Lane, Aitken, Dunner & Ziems  ABSTRACT An improved drive bracket connector for use in patient transfer apparatus of the type having a pair of superimposed extensible apron assemblies each including a separator to be coupled to a drive chain. The
drive bracket connector allows pivotal separation of the upper of the apron assemblies relative to the lower apron assembly thereby to facilitate cleaning operations as well as use of the apparatus as a bed sheet changing mechanism.
5 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures 'PAEmEnwazoxeu I sum 10F 2 PAIENIEDausemm saw as? 2 FIG. 6.
DRIVE BRACKET CONNECTOR FOR PATIENT TRANSFER APPARATUS BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION extended condition over a surface adjacent to one edge of the deck structure, the apron assemblies being operable to translate a reclining patient between the surface and the deck structure without manualhandling.
In prior US. Pat. Nos. 3,493,979 and 3,579,672 issued respectively on Feb. 10, 1970 and May 25, i971 to Laurel A. Koll and Water Crook, Jr. jointly, as well as in copending application Ser. No. 241,1 1 l filed Apr. 5, 1972 by the present inventor, several embodiments of object transfer apparatus are disclosed as having particular utility in the transferring of non-ambulatory patients to or from hospital beds, surgical tables, x-ray tables, or other surfaces without in any way disturbing or causing any discomfort to the patient while remaining in the reclined or prone position. The disclosures of these patents, moreover, depict a chronological evolution of a machine made commercially available by the common assignee of these prior patents as well as the present invention. The patient transfer components of the commercially available machine parallel quite closely the assembly of aprons and separators supports disclosed in the latter'two of these prior patents in the sense that it employs a pair of superimposed upper and I lower thin and flexible separating support plates about which belt-like apron flights are trained and operated by power driven means to effect the patient transfer operation. Accordingly, both upper and lower separators are connected at opposite ends near their inboard or rear edge by a bracket connector to an upper horizontal flight in a drive chain so that the separators will be translated between the retracted and extended conditions simultaneously with corresponding movement of the drive chain.
In addition to the primary patient transfer utility of the apparatus, a further use may be made of the basic apparatus for changing a bed sheet under a reclining patient as disclosed in the above-mehtioned US. Pat. No. 3,579,672. While the prior apparatus is highly effective in performing the bed sheet changing method described in that prior patent, the prior apparatus required that the apron assembly first be operated to draw a sheet between the upper and lower aprons before the assembly of aprons is advanced with the sheet under the patient. It has been found that while the time required to operate the machine and manipulate the sheet into position between the apron assemblies was acceptable, it nevertheless constituted a distracting factor in the use of the machine for this purpose.
Similarly, the time required to clean the endless belts forming the operative apron assemblies in the prior apparatus was increased somewhatby the requirement that the apparatus be operated to expose all portions of the apron forming endless belts. Moreover, the length of the belt forming the apron coupled with full exposure of the upper apron to foreign materials emphasized the need for cleaning particularly in meeting the sanitary conditions required of hospital usage.
Although the basic patient or object transferring function of the prior apparatus was not directly affected by these objections, the development of a completely acceptable commercial machine has demonstrated a desirability for improvement.
SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, a patient transfer apparatus of the type disclosed in the aforementioned patents is signiflcantly improved by the-provision of a novel drive bracket connector for coupling the apron flight separating support members to the translating drive in such patient transfer apparatus and which permits pivotal'or hinging movement of the upper apron assembly so it may be separated physically from the lower apron assembly to facilitate both a bed sheet changing procedure and cleaning of the apparatus. Two such brackets are employed in the apparatus, one to be connected at each end of the lower separator near its rear edge, each bracket having a facility for a pintle connection to the upper separator as well as a connection to the power drive chain so that the upper separator hinging provision in no way detracts from the drive coupling function of the bracket. Also a modification of the. housing end portions is provided by which the pivotal action of the upper separator and apron trained thereon may be pivotedupwardly without interference by the protective housing.
Accordingly, among the objects of the present invention are: the provision of an improved drive bracket connector for patient transfer apparatus of the type referred to; the provision of such an improvement by which pivotal separation of the upper and lower apron assemblies in such apparatus may be effected and the provision of such an improved bracket connector by which the additional facilities referred to are accomplished without in any way detracting from the basic operation of the machine while at the same'time maintaining or improving manufacturing assembly techniques, costs and the like.
Other objects and further scope of applicability of the present invention will become apparent from the detailed description tofollow taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which like reference numerals designated like parts.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a patient transfer apparatus of the type illustrated in the aforementioned patents and incorporating the improved bracket connector of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a fragmentary end elevation illustrating the bracket connector of the invention;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken on line 3-3 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 4 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view taken on line 4-4 of FIG. 2;
FIG. 5 is an enlarged fragmentary plan view illustrating the bracket connector of the present invention and its attachment to the lower separator plate of the patient transfer apparatus;
FIG. 6 is an enlarged fragmentary cross-section taken on line 66 of FIG. 4; and
FIG. 7 is an enlarged end view illustrating the component for connecting the upper separator to the connector of this invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT A patient transfer apparatus of the general type illustrated in the prior US. patents referred to above is shown in FIG. 1 of the drawings to include a lower pedestal section 10 supported on swivel mounted caster wheels 12 and an upper transfer section 14 supported for vertical adjustability with respect to the pedestal by a lifting arm 16. A pair of laterally translatable, superimposed upper and lower transfer apron assemblies 18 and 20, respectively as well as the translating drive mechanism for these assemblies including translating drive chains 22 are carried by the upper section 14. Al though the upper apron assembly 18 is shown in FIG. 1 to be inclined upwardly and forwardly to illustrate the movement of this component permitted by the bracket connector of the present invention, in the operation of the apparatus as disclosed in the prior patents to transfer a patient, the upper apron assembly will lie against and be supported by the lower apron assembly 20.
In the interest of more clearly illustrating the improved drive bracket connector of the present invention, many of the operating components of the apron assemblies 18 and have been omitted from the drawings. A complete detailed understanding of these components and their operation may be had by reference particularly to the aforementioned copending application Ser. No. 241,1 1 I, filed Apr. 5, I972. For purposes of the present invention, it will suffice to note that each of the apron assemblies 18 and 20 are comprised of a thin flexible plate-like support member 24 and 26 respectively, each of generally rectangular configuration and dimensioned to receive the human anatomy in a reclined position. Both support members 24 and 26 are essentially the same size and in use, are superimposed in coextensive relation. An upper apron is formed by upper and lower flight portions 28 and 30 of an extremely thin endless belt formed of nylon or fiberglas reinforced Teflon, the belt extending about the leading edge 32 of the upper separator 24 and extending beyond the trailing or inboard edge of the separator 24 downwardly about a drive and control arrangement described fully in the aforementioned copending application. Trained about the lower separator 26 is a loop of similar belt material to establish upper and lower flights 34 and 36 of the lower apron. Although the lower apron is characterized as continuous in the sense that operationally it defines a complete loop, a portion of the lower flight 36, designated by the reference numeral 38, is clamped or fixed near the leading edge of the upper transfer section 14 so that translating movement of the lower separator 26 from the position shown in FIG. 1 outwardly over a bed or other surface to or from which a patient is to be transferred will result in a rotation of the lower apron flights 34 and 36 relatively about the lower separator 26 so that frictional forces between the underside of the lower separator 26 and the surface over which the apron assemblies travel will be effectively isolated. The basic patient transfer operation effected by the apron assemblies 18 and 20 is completely described in the aforementioned copending application and to the extent that the disclosure therein is necessary for a full understanding of the improved drive bracket connector of the present invention, that disclosure is expressly incorporated herein by reference.
The improved drive bracket connector of the present invention is designated generally in the drawings by the reference numeral 40. Although in the description to follow. the structural details of the bracket connectors 40 will be described with reference to only one such bracket connector, it is to be understood that the structural assembly including the drive chain 22 and the connector 40 is duplicated on opposite ends of the upper transfer section 14. Also in this connection, it will be noted that the upper transfer section 14 includes at opposite ends a plate-like end casting 42 to which appropriate chain sprockets 44 are mounted to establish a horizontal upper flight 22a in the drive chain 22. Further, each of the end castings 42 are formed with a horizontal guide groove 46 in its outer surface and with a shoulder 48 on its inner surface for supporting a beam-like deck structure 50 extending between the end castings and providing a load bearing support for the apron assemblies 18 and 20,all as depicted in the showing of FIG. 3.
The bracket connector 40 is shown in FIGS. 3, 4 and 6 of the drawings to comprise an assembly of a vertically oriented plate-like formation or member 52, a chain coupling element 54, and a guiding slide 56. The plate-like member 52, as shown most clearly in FIGS. 3 and 6, is provided on its inner edge with an inwardly projecting integral shelf-like portion 58 adapted to be secured rigidly and directly to the ends of the lower separator 26 near the inboard edge thereof by rivets 60. Also projecting inwardly of the plate-like formation 52 is an L-shaped pin bracket 62 (FIGS. 4 and 5). a leg portion 64 of which is provided with an aperture 66 to receive the free end of a pintle 68. The pintle 68 is provided with a head 70 received within an appropriate counterbore in the outer surface of the plate 52 and captured against axial displacement by the inner face of the chain coupling element 54. As shown most clearly in FIGS. 3 and 4 of the drawings, the element 54 is nested in a stepped portion 72 of the plate 52 and is secured in place by screw bolts 74 extending through the plate 52 into the element 54.
As shown in FIG. 6, the pintle 68 extends through an eyelet 76 formed on the end of a strap member 78 in turn rigidly secured by rivets 80 along the end edges of the upper separator 24. Both the upper and lower separators 24 and 26 are rabbeted to accommodate this assembly as shown in FIG. 6. Also it will be noted that because the axis of the pintle 68 parallels the rear edge of the upper separator 24, the latter is permitted pivotal movement from a horizontal position on the lower separator 26 as shown in FIG. 6, for example, upwardly to the position shown in FIG. 1.
As shown in FIGS. 2-4 of the drawings, the guiding slide member 56 is secured near the lower portion of the plate 52 by bolts 82. Also as seen in these figures, the chain connecting element 54 assumes an inverted U-shaped configuration of sufficient lateral extent to receive the chain 22. Further, a pair of chain pins 84 are carried by the member 54 and captured against axial displacement by the outer surface of the plate member 52in a manner similar to that in which the pintle 68 is captured. The member 54 thus replaces one of the links in the chain 22 to effect a direct driving connection therewith.
In use of the apparatus to effect the basic patient transfer operation described in the aforementioned US. patents, the bracket 40 operates simply as a drive coupling of the separator plates 24 and 26 to the upper run 22a of the drive chain. When access is needed between the apron assemblies 18 and 20, such as for cleaning purposes or for a bed sheet changing operation, the coupling allows hinging movement of the upper apron assembly to the position in FIG. 1. It is also noted that inasmuch as aesthetics, sanitation and safety aspects of the overall apparatusmake desirable coverage of the ends of the apron assemblies 18 and 20 as well as the drive chain 22, the transfer section 14 of the apparatus may be provided with hinged end covers 86 adjustable to the position illustrated in FIG. 1. In this position of the covers 86, upward hinging movement of the apron assembly 18 is permitted. The covers are closed over the ends of the apron assemblies when the machine is used in the patient transfer operation. While the hinged end covers 86 represent an acceptable provision for covering the ends of the apron assemblies, other arrangements are contemplated, such as for example, resilient lips which would cover the ends of the aprons but flex out of the way when the upper apron is pivoted upwardly. Also the housing shell of the section 14 might be made to project above the level of the upper apron within sufficiently close tolerances to allow the upper apron to be hinged upwardly while at the same time preventing access to the ends thereof.
Thus it will be appreciated by this invention there is provided an improved drive bracket connector for patient transfer machines of the type referred to and by which the above mentioned objects are completely fulfilled. Not only is the structure of the bracket connector particularly well suited for efficient operation of the machine in the patient transfer operation and in cleaning or bed sheet changing operations, but also the structural assembly of the bracket connector is particularly well suited for simplified manufacturing techniques and diminuation of maintenance requirements. While the described structural organization of the improved bracket connector is preferred, it will be appreciated that various changes and/or modifications can be made without departing from the true spirit of the invention. It is expressly intended, therefore, that the foregoing description is illustrative only, not limiting, and that true spirit and scope of the present invention be determined by reference to the appended claims.
I claim: 7
1. In an object transfer apparatus of the type having a load carrying deck structure and an extensible apron assembly adjustable between a retracted condition overlying the deck structure and an extended condition located over a surface adjacent to one edge of the deck structure and to or from which an object is to be transferred, the apron assembly being comprised of a pair of superimposed supporting separators translatable between the retracted and extended positions and a pair of aprons established by flight portions of a web-like belt trained about the top, bottom and leading edge surface of each of said separators, respectively, and driving means for advancing the separators between the retracted and extended conditions, means connecting the separators to the driving means comprising: a pairof brackets connected one to each end of said lower separator near the rear edge thereof; means for connecting said brackets to the drive means; and means including a pintle for connecting each of said brackets to the upper separator, the axis of said pintle being parallel to and lying near the rear edge of said upper separator whereby the upper separator and the apron trained thereabout may be pivoted from a position overlying the lower separator and the deck upwardly to a position spaced from said lower separator and apron for cleaning and the like.
2. The apparatus recited in claim 1 wherein each of said brackets includes a plate-like member having an inwardly projecting shelf-like portion adapted to be connected rigidly to the lower separator.
3. The apparatus recited in claim 2 in which said plate-like member is formed having an L-shaped bracket portion projecting inwardly over said shelf portion to receive one end of said pintle, the other end of said pintle having a head received in a counterbore on the outside of said plate-like member.
4. In an apparatus of the type defined by claim 1 and wherein the driving means for advancing the separators includes a pair of drive chains, the improvement comprising further a chain coupling element having a surface for engaging the outer surface of said plate-like member and the head of said pintle thereby capturing said pintle against axial movement relative to said plate member.
5. The apparatus recited in claim 4 wherein said chain coupling element is adapted to receive a pair of chain coupling pins, said pins being captured against axial displacement by the outer surface of said plate-