Patent application title: Bathtub system
Matthew James Longman (Kelowna, CA)
IPC8 Class: AA47K302FI
Class name: Tubs with user access means in side of the tub pivoted door
Publication date: 2009-11-26
Patent application number: 20090288248
A bathtub system includes a tub having a substantially horizontal planar
floor and contiguous endwalls and sidewalls extending upwardly from the
floor. At least one sidewall has a door opening. A sliding door
cooperates with the door opening. The sliding door is operable in a
direction which includes a horizontal translation component between
oppositely disposed open and closed positions. The door is slid between
those positions by a horizontal force applied by a user sitting in the
tub urging the sliding door horizontally. The door opening has a sill
having an elevation which is both substantially equal to an elevation of
the seat of a user's wheelchair and substantially at the same elevation
as the floor of the tub so as to not interfere with the user of the tub
transferring laterally from the seat of the wheelchair, over the sill,
and onto the floor of the tub.
1. A bathtub system comprisinga tub having a substantially horizontal
planar floor and contiguous endwalls and sidewalls extending upwardly
from said floor so as to define tub enclosure having a head-end of the
tub at one of said endwalls and an opposite foot-end at the other of said
endwalls, wherein said sidewalls are a longitudinally extending pair of
sidewalls at least one of which having a door opening and a sliding door
cooperating with said door opening, said sliding door being operable in a
direction including a horizontal translation component between oppositely
disposed open and closed positions by a horizontal force applied by a
user in said tub urging said sliding door between said open and closed
positions,wherein said door opening has a sill having an elevation which
is substantially at the same elevation of said floor so as to not
interfere with a user of said tub transferring laterally from a seat of a
wheelchair, over said sill, and onto said floor of said tub, and wherein
said elevation of said floor is substantially equal to an elevation of
the seat of the wheelchair,and wherein said tub has an upper
circumferential edge around said sidewalls and said endwalls, and wherein
a plurality of handles are mounted adjacent said edge spaced along said
sidewalls whereby a user grasping said handles urges/biases the user from
said opening so as to slide over said floor towards said head-end of said
tub,and wherein a set of controls, including hot and cold water valve
controls and at least one drain control, are mounted substantially on
said upper edge of at least one of said sidewalls and disposed
substantially medially along said upper edge so as to be within reach of
a user in said tub while reclined in a reclined position along said floor
and head-end,and wherein a water inlet spout is mounted on one of said
sidewalls of said tub, and wherein said spout is adapted to deflect an
inflow of water flowing from said spout into said tub downwardly
substantially parallel to said one of said sidewalls in close adjacency
thereto so as to direct the inflow to not substantially impact a user
resting in said reclined position.
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 61/064,858 filed Mar. 31, 2008 entitled Bathtub System.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates to the field of bathtubs for the elderly or mobility impaired and in particular to an improved system for such bathtubs.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
In the prior art, conventional cable drive drain controls are integrated into the bath waste water overflow inlet. The handles for such controls often require grasping and rotation of the overflow inlet cover or lifting or sliding of a projecting knob or handle attached to the overflow inlet cover. Further, conventional bathtub drain control systems sometimes utilize drain control actuators which are located in close proximity to the drain. For example, drain control systems without trip levers are conventionally operated by moving the plug itself. One drain control system utilizes a foot lock such that, to operate the drain, a user pushes down on the drain plug with the user's foot. Another type of non-trip lever drain plug assembly is conventionally equipped with a protruding knob which one grasps and then pushes down on or pulls up, as the case may be, in order to operate the drain. In another type of drain control system without trip levers, the drain plug is equipped with a protruding knob. In order to operate the drain, the drain plug is rotated in opposite directions to either hold or release the bath water.
Another type of drain control system commonly used in bathtubs is one which utilizes a trip lever as a drain actuator. A trip lever actuator is conventionally located on the cover plate for the drain overflow aperture. The drain overflow aperture is conventionally located on the bathtub wall proximate to and above the drain and drain plug. A trip lever may be connected to the drain plug by means of a rigid, linked assembly situated within an L-shaped drain which conventionally extends from the overflow drain situated near the top of the inside of the bathtub down to the bottom edge of the bathtub until it is situated directly below the bathtub drain situated in the bottom of the bathtub. Raising or lowering of the trip lever, in turn, causes the drain plug to raise or lower thereby opening or closing the drain.
In an alternative version of trip lever drain assembly, the actuator is connected to the drain stopper by means of a flexible cable. The actuator is again commonly mounted to the cover plate for the drain overflow inlet and is conventionally located on a wall of the bathtub above the drain. The actuator is conventionally a trip lever which may be rotated in opposite directions to operate the drain plug. An example in the prior art is U.S. Pat. No. 4,546,506 to Houle et al which describes a console mounted drain controller 115 which actuates a drain valve 25 via a Bowden cable 120.
As indicated above, conventional drain control actuators require for example the lifting, pressing, or rotating of a projecting knob, lever or handle attached to the drain plug or waste overflow or alternatively, the grasping and rotation of the overflow inlet cover to bias the drain plug between its open and closed positions. For individuals without physical limitations, the location of such controls in close proximity to the drain, often at the end of the tub where the bather's feet rest, is not problematic as the individual need only bend forward to operate the actuator. In addition, such individuals will ordinarily possess the strength, dexterity and muscle coordination necessary to operate such controls.
In contradistinction, however, individuals who are elderly or have restricted motor skills resulting from disorders such as, without intending to be limiting, cerebral palsy, may lack the muscle control and/or strength to operate conventional drain plug actuators. By way of explanation, cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder characterized by an inability to control motor function. Depending upon the type of cerebral palsy, the affected individual's movements may be stiff, spastic and often involuntary, and, in addition, may be difficult for the individual to coordinate. Muscle weakness is often associated with this disorder. Hence, a seemingly simple task such as opening or closing a bathtub drain may prove to be problematic or an insurmountable task for someone suffering from a disorder such as cerebral palsy. Such individuals may, for example, lack the fine motor skills required to, firstly, grasp a lever or knob, and secondly, while maintaining such grasp to contemporaneously apply sufficient pressure to the lever or knob to cause it to move in an upward, downward or circular direction. While it may be possible to move a lever in an upwards or downwards direction without grasping the lever by applying pressure to the top or bottom of said lever, it may be difficult, if not impossible, for an individual with compromised motor skills to, without grasping such a lever, maintain his/her hand or hands resting in contact with or just above or below the lever, and at the same time apply sufficient force against the lever to cause it to move upwards or downwards. In addition, it may be difficult, it not impossible, for such an individual to access a conventionally located drain plug actuator that is, a drain plug actuator which is located near the bather's feet.
Further, in bathtubs such as those including the present invention, which are designed to accommodate the elderly or immobile, or those having greatly restricted range of movement, it is often the case that a direct flow of water such as from a bathtub spigot directly impacting the bather may cause discomfort, bruising or the like especially in those cases where the bather may not be able to move their limbs from under the water flow. This is especially true for those style of bathtubs including those in the present invention having a seat for the bather and typically some form of door, such bathtubs often require a significant volume of water and thus either a high volumetric flow rate from the spigot in order to fill the tub relatively quickly, or filling the bathtub may take a significant period of time. In either event, the filling may potentially cause discomfort for a bather having a limb impacted by the water inflow.
It is thus a first object of the present invention to provide a bathtub system which may be used by immobile persons using motions often encountered by the persons, for example getting into bed, by the use of a horizontal arrangement of controls and handles within easy reach of the user and a completely horizontal tub floor which extends from the tub's door sill to the head-end of the tub and which is elevated at the height of the seat of a wheelchair for ease of transition into and out of the tub by the user.
It is thus another object of the present invention to provide a novel water spout arrangement which minimizes the likelihood of impact of the water inflow with the limb of a bather, and which synergistically takes advantage of the drain actuator system according to another aspect of the present invention.
It is a further object of the present invention to provide a drain actuator system for usage by individuals with compromised motor skills such as, without intending to be limiting, those described above which will afford such individuals with greater independence when bathing by enabling them to open and close a conventional bathtub drain without assistance.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In summary, the bathtub system according to one aspect of the present invention may be characterized as including a tub having a substantially horizontal planar floor and contiguous endwalls and sidewalls extending upwardly from the floor so as to define tub enclosure having a head-end of the tub at one of the endwalls and an opposite foot-end at the other of the endwalls. The sidewalls are a longitudinally extending pair of sidewalls at least one of which having a door opening and a sliding door cooperating with the door opening. The sliding door is operable in a direction which includes a horizontal translation component between oppositely disposed open and closed positions and is slid between those positions by a horizontal force applied by a user in said tub urging said sliding door horizontally.
Advantageously, the door opening has a sill having an elevation which is both substantially equal to an elevation of the seat of the user's wheelchair and substantially at the same elevation as the floor so as to not interfere with a user of said tub transferring laterally from a seat of a wheelchair, over said sill, and onto the floor of the tub.
The tub has an upper circumferential edge around the sidewalls and the endwalls. A plurality of handles are mounted adjacent the upper circumferential edge spaced along the sidewalls whereby the user may grasp the handles to urge or bias the user from the opening so as to slide over the floor towards the head-end of the tub.
A set of controls, including hot and cold water valve controls and at least one drain control, are mounted substantially on an upper edge of at least one of the sidewalls and disposed substantially medially along the upper edge so as to be within reach of a user in the tub while reclined. The user is in a reclined position lying along the floor with the user's head resting inclined up along the head-end of the tub.
A water inlet spout is mounted on one of the sidewalls of the tub. The spout is adapted to deflect an inflow of water flowing from the spout into the tub downwardly and substantially parallel to the corresponding sidewall in close adjacency thereto, to direct the inflow so as to not substantially impact the user resting in the reclined position.
Advantageously the value controls and drain control are actuated by horizontally actuating levers. That is, the user actuates the values and drain control by merely pushing or pulling horizontally on the corresponding levers. Like the sliding door then, in order to operate the tub, including opening and closing the sliding door, filling the tub with water at a desired temperature, and drawing the tub, the user merely has to have the dexterity and strength to push and pull horizontally. In one embodiment the door latch is unlatched by raising slightly the horizontal door handle bar at the end of the bar closest to the user, that is the end closest to the head-end of the tub.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
In the drawings wherein similar characters of reference denote corresponding parts in each view:
FIG. 1 is, in perspective view, a bathtub incorporating the present invention.
FIG. 2 is the view of FIG. 1 partially cut away to expose the drain, overflow, and drain plug actuator assemblies.
FIG. 2a is, in perspective view, the spill-mounted drain plug actuator handle of the bathtub of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3a is, in plan view, the water spout of the bathtub of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3b is, in side view, the spout of FIG. 3a.
FIG. 3c is, in perspective view, the spout of FIG. 3a.
FIGS. 4a-4e are perspective progressive views of a user entering into the bathtub of FIG. 1.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
Applicant realized that there were distinct advantages to a tub according to the present invention where the user transfers to the floor of the tub by a lateral movement without significant vertical movement because the floor of the tub is at substantially the same height elevation as the seat of a conventional wheelchair. For immobile users, a prior art walls-in water closet style of bathtub is difficult to use because the derriere of the user must be transferred from the seat of the wheelchair to the seat of the tub, that is, across the open space of the footwell where the wheelchair cannot go, where a caregiver cannot typically go, leaving only the user's own strength to hoist themselves into the tub and onto the seat.
In the applicant's tub design a wheel chair may be positioned directly alongside the opening into the tub as seen in FIG. 4a so as to reduce strain and reduce lifting by a caregiver if one is assisting. The user then transitions in what is a practiced motion for those who are wheelchair bound, in a manner as if transitioning onto a toilet or bed. The user thus uses handle 50a by grasping the handle with the user's right hand. As seen in FIG. 4b the user's left hand holds onto the wheelchair (which has of course been locked in position with its brakes on) as the user moves through substantially a horizontal plane, that is, direction G so as to sit on the edge of the tub door opening.
Once the user is sitting stably in the tub door opening the user lets go of the wheelchair and transfers the user's left hand to a second handle 50b adjacent the door opening, opposite to handle 50a. The user then grasps handle 50c with the right hand and pushes against handles 50c (and possibly also handle 50b) or otherwise pushes backwardly to slide backwards in direction H over the tub floor on the user's derriere as seen in FIG. 4c so as to slide in the horizontal plane of the tub floor backwardly into the head end 31 of the tub. The motion is similar to the user getting into bed; that is a practiced and usual potion for the user. An optional handle 50d may be provided in the corner of the tub opposite handle 50a to assist the user sliding backwardly around the corner from the door opening and backward into the head end of the tub. The user's legs and feet then follow through the door opening and onto the tub floor as seen in FIG. 4d. While still grasping handle 50c with the right hand, the user grasps the door handle 52a and slides door 52 in direction I so as to close the door across the door opening and seal the tub closed.
The tub may then be filled with water, or the water let out by the user operating the knobs and controls 26, etc. which are within easy reach of the user along the back edge 30b of the tub. Again, the spout directs water down along the sidewall so as to minimize impact of the water with the user.
Once the bath is finished, and the water drained, the user merely lifts up on the bar of handle 52a to release the door latch and reverses the procedure followed to enter the tub and close the tub door.
The drain control actuator of the present invention drives a conventional cable drive drain assembly such as commercially available from Oakville Stamping and Bending in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and may be used with a bathtub which has a conventional overflow drain. The drain control actuator of the present invention may be mounted anywhere on the bathtub shell above the water line or adjacent to the bathtub as, for example without intending to be limiting, on a sill outside of but adjacent to the bathtub. Hence, the drain control actuator of the present invention can be mounted within easy ergonomic reach of the bather rather than at the far end of the bathtub near the drain and away from easy reach by the bather.
The cable drive drain plug and actuator system combination 10 of the present invention is comprised of for example the aforementioned conventional cable drive drain plug assembly 12. Drain assembly 12 is comprised of a drain plug 14 mounted in a drain plug base 16 with a drive cable 18 mounted at a first end 20 and in cooperation therewith so as to bias drain plug 14 between raised and lowered positions in drain plug base 16. Water flowing out of the tub through drain assembly 12 exhausts through pipe 17a. Water flowing out of the tub through overflow aperture 34 exhausts through pipe 17b. Pipes 17a and 17b exhaust through common pipe 17c.
A second end 22 of drive cable 18, opposite drive cable end 20, is mounted in actuator housing 28 so as to cooperate with actuator 26. Actuator 26 is a knob and lever assembly rotatably mounted in corresponding actuator housing 28. Actuator housing 28 is adapted to be mounted on the upper edge 30a of bathtub 30 or in a sill 30b surrounding upper edge 30a. Drain drive cable 18 is driven at first end 20 by rotation in direction A of actuator 26 resulting in drain plug 14 lifting or lowering in direction B.
Spout 32 is mounted for example to upper edge 30a, in cooperation with overflow aperture 34 and provides for relatively rapid filling of bathtub 30 while minimizing the risk of impact of the inflow of water with limbs of a bather. In particular, with the drain plug actuator 26 mounted for example onto sill 30b, or otherwise positioned so as not to be mounted on overflow drain cover 35, spout 32 may be mounted so as to cover overflow aperture 34 which would, with a conventional overflow cover and trip lever drain plug actuator, not be possible. Thus the base 32a of spout 32 may be mounted so as to threadably engage a water supply pipe 36 protruding through upper edge 30a and into tub 30. A hollow neck 32b, in the shape of an inverted "L" or elbow, cooperates with base 32a so as to channel water supplied from pipe 36 in direction C through a 90 degree turn in neck 32b. Water is exhausted from the neck in direction D into divergent manifold 32c. Water leaving manifold 32c diverges further in a fan as a sheet of water 38 in directions E over divergent channel 40 so as to exit from inclined lip 42 in direction F. Sheet of water 38 exiting from lip 42 in direction F may advantageously exhibit a substantially laminar flow in one preferred embodiment of the present invention along a trajectory which smoothly merges with sidewall 30C. Thus sheet 38 moving in direction F flows smoothly downwardly along sidewall 30c below overflow aperture 34 and into the tub so as to fill it. The smooth flow exiting from divergent channel 40 over inclined lip 42 smoothly converges onto sidewall 30c so that sheet of water 38 fans out smoothly down and along sidewall 30c to fill tub 30 relatively rapidly without detrimentally impacting the bather. Advantageously, sidewall 30c is gently inclined downwardly and inwardly into the base of the bathtub so that sheet of water 38 as it fans once it has left channel 40 converges smoothly and somewhat tangentially onto the surface of sidewall 30c, advantageously at an acute angle relative thereto, promoting a smooth entry of the sheet of water onto the sidewall of the bathtub as it flows downwardly from spout 32.
As will be apparent to those skilled in the art in the light of the foregoing disclosure, many alterations and modifications are possible in the practice of this invention without departing from the spirit or scope thereof. Accordingly, the scope of the invention is to be construed in accordance with the substance defined by the following claims.
Patent applications by Matthew James Longman, Kelowna CA
Patent applications in class Pivoted door
Patent applications in all subclasses Pivoted door