US 3920011 A
A method and means of diver decompression is characterized by employing acoustic transducers to ensonify the body of the diver during decompression. In one embodiment, a platform is provided to raise a diver from the floor of the ocean while providing an ensonified decompression space.
Claims available in
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
AU 335 Ex Umted States Patent 1 1 1111 3,920,011
Losee Nov. 18, 1975 1 SONIC DECOMPRESSION 3.499.437 3/1970 Balamuth 128/24 A 3.585.991 6/1971 Balamuth.... 128/24 A  lnvemor- See, Dlego, Calm 3.742.540 7/1973 11111 et a1 340/8  Assignee: The United States Of America OTHER PUBLICATIONS represented by the Secretary of the Navy, Washington DC [By/gs Intercom System, CBS Laboratories, May 1, 221 Filed: June 24, 1974 1211 Appl. No.1 482,117 Primary Examiner-Robert W. Michell Assistant Examiner-Henry J. Recla Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Richard S. Sciascia; Ervin  US. Cl 128/204; 128/1424; 128/66 R; Johnston; William Skeer 128/24 A; 68/3 SS; 259/D1G. 44; 340/8 S; 4/172.16  Int. C1. A61M 16/02  Field of Search 128/204, 142.4, 142, 24 A,  ABS CT 128/241, 66 R, 30; 340/8 5, 3 R, H21 A method and means of diver decompress1on 15 char- 173 /3 259 44 acterized by employing acoustic transducers to ensonify the body of the diver during decompression. In [5 References Cited one embodiment, a platform is provided to raise a UNITED STATES PATENTS diver from the floor of the ocean while providing an ensonified decompression space. 3.268.854 8/1966 Sato 128/141 A 3.470.394 9/1969 Cook et a1. 310/ 7 Claims, 4 Drawing Figures US. Patent Nov. 18, 1975 3,920,011
FIG?) SONIC DECOMPRESSION STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT INTEREST The invention described herein may be manufactured and used by or for the Government of the United States of America for governmental purposes without the payment of any royalties thereon or therefor.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION This invention pertains to the field of ocean medicine. More particularly, this invention pertains to a system for relatively rapid decompression. In still greater particularity, the invention pertains to the treatment of a diver during decompression by sonic waves.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PRIOR ART Presently, decompression of divers is implemented by slowly elevating the diver from the ocean floor with relatively lengthy stops during his ascent. Although such decompression techniques are satisfactory and provide safe, helpful decompression, there are instances where, because of injury, danger, or mechanical failure, the ascent and decompression is too slow. If the decompression time is speeded up, a great risk of decompression sickness results with possible permanent physical injury to the diver.
Decompression sickness is a malady which results from the reduction of external pressure on a diver whose blood and tissues have absorbed nitrogen or helium solution at a depth-induced pressure. During ascent, this dissolved inert gas may collect in bubbles in the circulatory system and tissues. If elimination of this dissolved gas is not accomplished by the lungs the resulting bubbles in the bloodstreams and tissues cause symptoms of circulation failure and pain in muscles, joints and bones. When such bubbles occur in the brain they can produce blindness, dizziness, paralysis, or unconsciousness accompanied with convulsions.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention permits a relatively rapid decompression of a diver and greatly minimizes the incidence of decompression sickness. The invention employs ensonifying the divers body with sonic, compressionalwave energy during the period of assent. This ensonification is accomplished by fluid coupling the compressional wave output of a plurality of transducers to the body of the diver. In a preferred form of the invention this is accomplished on an elevator platform which raises the diver from the underwater work station or habitat. Of course, the invention may be practiced in other decompression environments such as conventional decompression chambers, if desired.
STATEMENT OF THE OBJECTS OF INVENTION It is accordingly an object of this invention to provide an improved decompression apparatus and method.
Another object of this invention is to provide a method of means whereby an underwater diver may be expeditiously returned to the surface with safety.
A further object of this invention is the provision of a decompression system which promotes natural elimination of saturated inner gases from the body of a diver.
A further object of this invention is the provision ofa decompression system in which the diver is subjected to compressional wave energy during the decompression.
2 These and other objects of the invention will become more readily apparent from the ensuing specification when taken together with the drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I shows the decompression device of the invention in an operational environment;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a decompressional device according to the invention;
FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the invention taken along lines 3-3 of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 4 is a partial sectional view of the decompression chamber in which the invention may be utilized.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT Referring to FIG. 1, a conventional surface ship 10 has a port-side crane ll deployed and is raising a diver platform 12 by means of suitable cable 13. The exact nature of crane 11 and cable 13 depends, of course, on the particular surface vessel and intended application. Since a wide variety of standard structures may be utilized in this application, a further description thereof is deemed unwarranted. Likewise, as used herein the term cable applies to any marine line or other longitudinal load carrying members including chains, rope, and the like.
Referring to FIG. 2, the details of platform 12 may be more readily understood. A horizontal platform 14, which may preferably be made of metal such as mild steel, provides a decompression space for a diver to stand thereon. A plurality of upright standards 15 are spaced symmetrically about the periphery of platform 14. Standards 15 are of a height approximating that of a diver eg l.5-2.5 meters. The upper end of standards 15 carry an attachment 16 to which a harness 17 is fastened. In turn, harness 17 is connected to the distal end of cable 13. A plurality of acoustic transducers 21 are mounted on standards 15 and distributed along the length thereof.
As best shown by FIG. 4, transducers 21 face in- I wardly to concentrate acoustic energy, as indicated by wave fronts 22, in the decompression station provided on platform 14.
Transducers 21 may be any conventional acoustic transducer and the broadband electro-acoustic type transducers have proven desirable in developmental models. For example, the transducer disclosed by US. Pat. No. 3,470,394 issued on Sept. 30, 1969 to Rufus L. Cook et al. for Double Serrated Crystal Transducer has proven satisfactory in the instant invention. If desired, a bulkhead may be attached to vertical supports 16 to confine and reflect sonic energy back to the decompression station. Likewise, if such an enclosure is employed, the entire interior surface may be considered a potential mounting surface for a curved electroacoustic transducer. Such a transducer can be fabricated in accordance with the method disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,496,617 issued on Feb. 24, I970 to Rufus I... Cook et al. for Technique for Curving Piezoelectric Ceramics".
The method and system of the invention is not lim-. ited to decompression within the ocean environment itself. That is, the method may be practiced in decompression chambers from the surface when the diver has been returned to the surface too rapidly and recompression is required. In such instances, the system of the invention is still very beneficial to the diver. In such circumstances, the acoustic energies are also fluid-coupled to the body of the diver by immersing him in a treatment tank which includes acoustic transducers. Such a decompression station is indicated generally at 25 on the interior of a decompression chamber 24. The diver is immersed in a fluid treatment tank 26 and the pressure of decompression chamber 24 is gradually reduced by means of a conduit 27 and a regulating reduction valve 28 to discharge the elevated gas pressure through conduit 29. Treatment tank 26 may be any conventional acoustic treatment tank such as disclosed in US. Pat. No. 3,499,437 issued on Mar. 10, 1970 to Lewis Balamuth for Method and Apparatus for Treatment of Organic Structures and Systems thereof with Ultrasonic Energy".
The aforedescribed structure is believed sufflcient to enable one skilled in the diving and underwater engineering arts to make and use the invention however, the invention will be better understood by reference to the appended preferred mode of operation and claims.
MODE OF OPERATION in operation, a diver positions himself in the decompression station on platform 14 and signals personnel aboard vessel 10, by conventional underwater communication techniques, that he is in position for decompression-ascent. Personnel aboard ship commence hoisting decompression platform 12 by means of conventional hoisting equipment attached to the bitter end of cable 13 and activate acoustic transducers 21. Acoustic transducers 21 in turn generate compressional wave energy which impinges the body of the diver. This energy inneracts with the gas absorbed by the body tissue and blood and cause almost immediate release thereof as the pressure is equalized, such that much smaller bubbles are formed and transmitted through the bloodstream of the diver to be eliminated in his normal respiration. Additionally, ultrasonic energy is believed to facilitate decompression by stimulating blood flow, particularly in the extremities of the diver. This circulatory stimulation is an understood phenomena and is ancillary to the effect of such energy on the gas bubbles per se.
The foregoing description taken together with the appended claims constitutes a disclosure such as to enable a person skilled in the ocean medicine and diving arts and having the benefit of teachings therein to make and use the invention. Further, the structure and method described herein meet the aforestated objects of invention, and generally constitute a meritorious advance in the art unobvious to such persons not having the benefit of these teachings.
Obviously, many modifications and variations of the present invention are possible in the light of the above teachings, and it is therefore understood that within the scope of the disclosed inventive concept, the invention may be practiced otherwise than specifically described.
What is claimed is:
1. A diver decompression system comprising:
means to receive and support a diver in a highpressure, fluid-filled environment including;
a platform upon which the diver stands for establishing a decompression station;
means attached to said diver receiving means for lessening the high pressure over a predetermined period including;
a lifting cable means effectively secured to said platform at its distal end for raising the platform with the diver thereon to the surface,
hoisting means on the surface and attached to the bitter end of said lifting cable means for taking up said cable to thereby raise said platform and diver to the surface, and
means attached to said diver receiving means and positioned in close proximity thereto for ensonifying said decompression station with compressional wave energy directed towards said decompression station during the period of lessening the high pressure, whereby the length of time necessary to restore the diver to normal terrestrial pressure in good health is materially reduced. 2. A diver decompression system according to claim 1 in which said electro-acoustic transducer means includes a plurality of electro-acoustic transducers which are spaced symmetrically about said decompression station.
3. A diver decompression system according to claim 2 in which said lifting cable is attached to said platform by a plurality of upright standards attached to said platform and arranged symmetrically about the aforesaid decompression station.
4. A diver decompression system according to claim 3 in which said ensonifying means comprise electroacoustic transducer means.
5. A diver decompression system according to claim 4 in which said electro-acoustic transducer means includes a plurality of electro-acoustic transducers which are spaced symmetrically about said decompression station.
6. A diver decompression station according to claim 5 in which said plurality of electro-acoustic transducers include a plurality of transducers mounted on each of said upright standards in a vertical relationship with respect to one another and positioned to face inwardly to fluid couple their acoustic output in the aforesaid direction toward said decompression station.
7. A method of decompressing a diver comprising the steps of:
placing the diver in a fluid filled decompression station having a high pressure environment therein; fluid coupling acoustic energy to the body of the diver; and gradually reducing the pressure of said high pressure environment while maintaining said fluid coupling of acoustic energy to said diver in said fluid filled decompression station.