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Publication numberUS3919730 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateNov 18, 1975
Filing dateAug 14, 1974
Priority dateApr 14, 1972
Publication numberUS 3919730 A, US 3919730A, US-A-3919730, US3919730 A, US3919730A
InventorsJohn J Regan
Original AssigneeJohn J Regan
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Inflatable body support
US 3919730 A
Abstract
A body support primarily designed for supporting the human body in a reclining position including a plurality of body supporting elements mounted for retraction from a body engaging position to reduce sensory impulses by relieving body pressures, with each of the body supporting elements consisting of an upper section that conforms to the shape of the body through the provision of a spring biased body engaging member and a lower section for reciprocating the upper section from a body engaging position to a retracted position that includes an inflatable and deflatable air chamber mounted on a generally horizontal frame.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

' United 9 States Patent [191 Regan 1 INFLATABLE BODY SUPPORT John J. Regan, 2316 N. Harlem Ave., Elmwood Park, 111. 60635 [22] Filed: Aug. 14, 1974 [21] Appl. No.: 497,240

Related US. Application Data [76] Inventor:

[60] Substitute of abandoned Ser. No. 243,935, Apr. 14, 1972, which is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 866,934, Oct. 16,1969, Pat. No. 3,656,190.

[52] US. Cl 5/348 R; 5/243; 128/33 [51] Int. Cl. A47C 27/08 [58] Field of Search 5/348, 349, 350, 353, 243, 5/348 R; 128/33 Nov. 18, 1975 FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 194,258 10/1966 U.S.S.R 5/348 R 876,760 4/1953 Germany 5/348 R 959,103 4/1964 United Kingdom 5/348 R --Wiles & Wood [57] ABSTRACT A body support primarily designed for supporting the human body in a reclining position including a plurality of body supporting elements mounted for retraction from a body engaging position to reduce sensory impulses by relieving body pressures, with each of the body supporting elements consisting of an upper section that conforms to the shape of the body through the provision of a spring biased body engaging member and a lower section for reciprocating the upper section from a body engaging position to a retracted position that includes an inflatable and defiatable air chamber mounted on a generally horizontal frame.

11 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 18,1975 Sheet 2 of2 3,919,730

This application is a substitute for my application Ser. No. 243,935, filed Apr. 14, 1972, now abandoned, which in turn is a continuation-in-part of Ser. No. 866,934, filed Oct. 16, 1969, now US. Pat. No. 3,656,190.

There have in the past been provided so called increased comfort body supporting or bed structures for increasing the beneficial results of human sleep. Some of these have taken the form of various vibrating elements, while others have taken the form of various fluidized beds that conform to the contour of the body and give the user a pleasant feeling. Many of these prior attempts, however, have not been designed to overcome the neurological problems associated with sleep and therefore have not achieved the results of improving the benefits of human consciousness or unconsciousness of the sleeping condition.

There have been many theoretical analyses of the sleeping condition. As a result of my studies, I have concluded that to a large extent, human dreams result from a stimulation of the mind by sensory impulses received during sleep. These impulses originate from movement of the body, pressure on the body, or internal bodily disturbances. Thus, the sensory impulses which stimulate dreams are for the most part associated with a bodily feeling of irritation that might go unnoticed because it is not very strong. This theory can even be reduced to a particular part of the body as being the source of the soreness stimulating the dream.

One example of this phenomena has been observed in a dreaming patient. The patient dreamt he was standing at a social gathering holding a glass while, in reality, at the same time the patient was lying on his back with his hands alongside his head, palms in an upwardly facing position. The patient then dreamt that he was slapped on the back of the left shoulder by someone at the social gathering, and at that moment the patient awoke and observed his left arm moving downwardly to a position alongside his body. This movement of the left arm to a position alongside the body was a reaction to the slap on the back the patient observed in the dream. Also, a tingling sensation was felt in the arm caused by a lack of blood supply due to the initial awkward position of the arm. Thus, it is theorized that uncomfortableness of the initial position of the arm caused sensory impulses to the brain stimulating the slap on the back to produce the actual motor response in the left arm necessary to remove the feeling of discomfort.

Thus, the motor responses and the dreams and the character of the dreams produced in human sleep can be traced to sensory impulses produced by physical discomforts incurred during sleep.

Dreams come in degrees or stages. If one set of dream thoughts do not get a motor reaction, they will continue to increase in activity until there is a reaction. These dreams go from the mildest to the bizarre, to the violent, to the defensive, to the aggressive. Some peo ple require different degrees of dream intensityto get them to respond in a motive manner. The physical condition of the patient does in all likelihood have a great deal of control over the intensity of dream required to get a motor response toremove some physical discomfort.

During sleep, the mind receives these sensory impulses from any part of the body that is not performing normally. It also responds, in some instances, when the body is performing normally. If a person ate before going to bed, the mind would be receiving sensory impulses from the digestive area, and this would be the stimulus for the dream.

In recognizing the sleeping and dreaming phenomena, I have concluded if the sensory disturbances can be minimized by relieving the irritating pressures that create them, a person could considerably improve sleep.

In accordance with the present invention, this has been accomplished by providing a body supporting structure in which the patient can move a maximum extent before the sensory signals to the mind begin, thus producing a controlled sleep with maximum rest.

In my previous application, Ser. No. 866,934, a body supporting device is described which includes a plurality of plungers arranged in lateral rows with the tops of the plungers forming a body supporting surface. The plungers are movable in a vertical direction and have springs to allow depression and maintain vertical pressure. A motor in the device drives a pair of cam shafts, each of which has a plurality of lobes. A plurality of cam slides, one corresponding to each of the lateral plunger rows, is driven by the cam shaft lobes. Each of the slides retracts a row of plungers from body contact and later returns the row to the body supporting position under the influence of a spring biasing arrangement.

While this body support has the advantage over prior art body supports of selectively relieving pressure from the body, as opposed to jabbing the body by some vibratory movement, it is quite complex in construction and somewhat costly to produce.

It is the primary object of the present invention to overcome the problems described above.

SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION In accordance with the present invention, a sleep enhancing body supporting construction is provided that reduces dream intensity by sequentially retracting a plurality of body supporting elements from their body engaging position and thereafter returning the elements to this body supporting position.

This is accomplished basically through the provision of a plurality of movable body supporting elements mounted on a frame. Each of the body supporting elements consists of an upper contour section, and a lower retracting section. The upper section, without the assistance of the retracting lower section, conforms completely to the contour of the human body resting on the upper surface thereof. In one embodiment, the upper contouring section consists of a spring biased body engaging member that is capable of sufficient movement to contour all portions of the human body resting on the surface thereof.

The lower section of each of the body supporting elements is an expandable air chamber that may be constructed of a rubber or plastic material. Air or other fluid is selectively delivered to and from the fluid chambers to selectively retract the upper section from its normal body engaging position to a retracted position. The fluid chambers produce a greatly simplified body supporting mechanism of the retracting element type.

Suitable controls are provided for sequentially withdrawing fluid, such as air, from certain ones of the air chambers so that the desired retracting sequence, such as a wave motion, can be achieved for the upper sections of the body supporting elements. See, for example, the distributors shown in US. Pat. Nos. Whitney 3,462,778, Schreiber et al. 3,388,701 and Rand 2,719,986.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top view of an inflatable blister body supporting structure;

FIG. 2 is a side view of the inflatable blister body supporting structure shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 is a fragmentary view of a body supporting structure according to one form of the present invention; and

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view of two body supporting elements forming a part of a body supporting structure according to the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Viewing the drawings, and particularly FIGS. 1 and 2, a body support device, generally designated 149, is sealed on a mounting sheet 152 having a plurality of inflatable and deflatable support blisters 150. The sheet 152 extends substantially the dimensions of a bed mattress 154 and is secured to the top thereof.

The blisters 150, when inflated, form a hemispherical shape and are arranged in continuous lateral rows, generally designated 156, with the blisters in consecutive rows being staggered to provide a maximal body sup porting surface. All the blisters in each row 156 are interconnected for simultaneous inflation and deflation.

As illustrated in FIG. 1, an air tank or other source of air supply 158 supplies air pressure for inflating the blister rows 156. Tubing 160 couples the air pressure source 158 to an inflation and deflation distributor 162. The distributor 162 has an inner member, generally designated 164, which rotates about a center pin 163. The rotating member 164 has an arcuate shaped air transfer groove (master valve) 166 which is coupled through an air passage 168 to the air pressure source supplied in tube 160, and has an arcuate-shaped air exhaust groove (muffler) 170 with an opening to the atmosphere. A plurality of outlet tubes, generally designated 171, function as inlet and outlet ports to the support blister 150 and has one end 172 terminating in an opening which is positioned in the sides of distributor 162 such that a coupling will be made when the opening on ends 172 are adjacent to air transfer groove 166 or exhaust groove 170 in their circle of travel. Thus, when air transfer groove 166 is adjacent the opening on an end 172, air pressure will be supplied to the tube 171 corresponding to that end 172 from the tube 160 through air passage 168 and air transfer groove 166; when the exhaust groove 170 is aligned with the opening on an end 172, air will pass from the corresponding tube 171 through the exhaust groove 170 to the atmosphere.

See, for example, the distributors shown in US. Pat. Nos. Whitney 3,462,788 (FIGS. 2-4 and columns 3-5 in the specification), Schreiber et al. 3,388,701 (FIGS. 2a-2d), and Rand 2,719,986, the details of which are herein incorporated by reference.

In a preferred embodiment, four tubes 173, 174, 176 and 180 are spaced at intervals around the sides of distributor 162. The are formed by master valve 166 measured circumferentially around pin 163 is greater than 270 making simultaneous air pressure connection to three outlet tubes 171 during portions of the course of its circular travel, while the exhaust muffler is coupled to only one tube 171 at a single time. In FIG. 1, the master valve 166 is shown in postion to inflate tubes 173, 174 and 176, while muffler 170 is in position to allow exhaust from tube 180.

It is contemplated that the rotational speed of member 164 is adjustable to modify the inflation-deflation frequency of outlet tubes 171.

Each outlet tube 171 is connected to a first three-way fitting 182. Eachfirst three-way fitting 182 is further coupled to a plurality of three-way fittings 184 by tube connectors 186. The three-way fittings 182 and 184 allow air to pass directly through the fittings to further tube connectors 186, and allow a portion of the air to bypass into stems 188 extending at right angles from the fittings.

Each stem 188 of the tube fittings 182 and 184 couples the outlet tubes 171 to a single row of blisters 156. Since each blister in a row 156 is interconnected, the entire row is simultaneously inflated or deflated.

Each outlet tube 171 has one three-way fitting 182 or 184 coupled to every fourth blister row 156, with two outlet tubes 171 connected to alternating blister rows on each side of the mounting sheet 152. As illustrated in FIG. 1, outlet tube 173 is coupled to alternating rows 190, while outlet tube 174 is connected to alternating rows 192 on the upper side of the mounting sheet 152. Whereas, on the lower side of the sheet 152, outlet tube is coupled to alternating rows 194, and outlet tube 176 is coupled to alternating rows 196.

With the distributor 162 positioned as seen in FIG. 1, air pressure is being supplied to outlet tubes 173, 174 and 176, thereby inflating rows 190, 192 and 196, while the muffler 170 is allowing deflation of rows 194 through outlet tube 180, such deflation being shown as shaded. As members 164 rotates, the alternating blister rows will sequentially deflate and inflate. For example, if member 164 rotates in a clockwise direction as viewed in FIG. 1, outlet tube 180 will next receive air pressure from air supply 158 inflating rows 194 while outlet tube 173 will next be connected to muffler 170 deflating rows 190. The device is designed to sequentially inflate and deflate blister rows to produce a wavelike movement longitudinally along the mounting sheet 152, and an adjustment of rotating speed to member 164 will change the sequential deflation-inflation speed of the blister rows 156.

Referring to FIG. 3, and another embodiment, two body supporting elements 210 are illustrated mounted on a frame or base member 211. It should be understood with respect to FIG. 3 as well as FIG. 4 that only two body supporting elements are shown with the understanding that many are provided to form a body supporting structure as in FIGS. 1 and 2, for example.

The body supporting element 210 includes an inflatable upwardly elongated lower section 212 that defines the actuator for the unit. The chamber 212 may be constructed of rubber or plastic as desired and may be inflated to the position shown in the left in FIG. 3 by delivering fluid through passage 214 extending through frame member 211 and lower part 216 of the chamber 212. Upon withdrawal of fluid through passage 214, the

, chamber 212 will move to its compressed or collapsed position shown at the right in FIG. 3. Chambers 212 are inflated and deflated through a suitable control, as distributor 162.

Each of the body engaging elements 210 also includes an upper section 220 that defines the contouring part of the body engaging elements. Thus, the contour-v ing portion 220 performs the contouring function and not the fluid chamber lower section 212 which performs the function of lowering and raising the upper section. The upper section 220 consists of a cylindrical guide seat portion 222 having a spring 224 mounted therein'and engageable with a cup-shaped sliding member 226, slidably engageable with the outside of the seat member 222.

Mounted on the upper surface of slidable member 226 is a cushion 228 for increasing the comfort of the user. The cushion 228 does not perform any significant contouring function, however, this being provided by the interaction of member 226 with seat member 222.

Each of the body supporting elements 226 is movable from its extended position shown in FIG. 3 to a lower position sliding on seat 222 in response to pressure from the human body and, thus, the upper section 220 provides a completely contoured upper surface for the users body.

Once the contour is achieved, the lower section 212 retracts the upper section 220 from its prestressed position, or contoured position, and then returns it to the prestressed position. During this reciprocating motion of the seat 222, the spring 224 may extend somewhat raising cushion 228 with respect to the seat 222, but nevertheless the pressure exerted by cushion 228 on the body is significantly reduced as a result of this deflation of the air chamber 212.

In FIG. 4, generally similar body supporting elements 310 are illustrated that are constructed in the same manner as those shown in FIG. 3, except that the lower section 312 is formed by a preformed bellows as opposed to the collapsible chambers 212 shown in FIG. 3.

I claim: I

1. In a body support having a base, a plurality of body support elements mounted on and extending upwardly from said base, wherein the improvement comprises:

each body support element including a retractable lower section movable between extended and retracted positions, a body conforming upper section, said upper section having a seat portion, a resilient means carried on the seat portion, a body engaging member carried by said resilient means, said body engaging member slidable with respect to said seat portion to conform the body engaging members of each support element independently of the lower section to the contour of a body sup ported on the plurality of elements; and

means for selectively moving the lower sections of the plurality of body support elements between their respective extended and retracted positions.

2. The body support of claim 1 in which the lower retractable section of the body support element is a chamber with a resilient wall and when inflated moves to the extended position.

3. The body support of claim 2 in which the means for selectively moving the lower section between extended and retracted positions includes a source of air pressure and a vent to atmosphere and means for selectively connecting the chamber alternately with the source of air pressure and vent.

4. The body support of claim 2 in which the resilient wall of the chamber of the lower section is collapsible.

5. The body support of claim 4 in which said resilient wall has a preformed bellows configuration.

6. The body support of claim 1 in which the resilient means of the body conforming upper section of the body support element is a spring mounted within the seat portion, and the body engaging member is carried by the spring.

7. The body support of claim 6 in which said body engaging member slides longitudinally with respect to said seat portion.

8. The body support of claim 7 in which said seat portion is cylindrical, said spring is a coil spring extending axially in said seat portion and said body engaging member has an inverted cup shape, is carried by said spring and is telescoped with said cylindrical seat portion.

9. The body support of claim 1 in which the body engaging member of the upper section of said support element includes a cushion on top of its body engaging surface.

10. A body support element comprising:

a retractable lower section movable between extended and retracted positions;

a body conforming upper section, said upper section having a cylindrical seat portion, a coil spring extending axially in said seat portion and an inverted cup-shaped body engaging surface with one degree of freedom for longitudinal displacement so that the body engaging surface is telescoped with respect to said cylindrical seat portion to conform the body engaging surface of the support element to the contour of a body supported thereon.

11. The body support element of claim 10 wherein the lower retractable section of the body support element is a chamber with a resilient wall and when inflated moves to the extended position.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification5/710, 601/98, 601/148, 5/243, 5/716, 601/111
International ClassificationA61G7/057, A47C27/08, A47C27/10
Cooperative ClassificationA61G7/05776
European ClassificationA61G7/057K1