Patent application title: HANDLES FOR MOBILITY DEVICES
Lee Schulz (Brookfield, WI, US)
Mark Koehneke (Chicago, IL, US)
Carol Pritzlaff Voss (Milwaukee, WI, US)
Bob Unkel (Grafton, WI, US)
David Singer (Austin, TX, US)
IPC8 Class: AA45B902FI
Class name: Tent, canopy, umbrella, or cane canes, sticks, crutches, and walking aids
Publication date: 2010-06-24
Patent application number: 20100154849
A mobility aid, such as a cane, trek pole, or walking stick is disclosed
in which the handle has an advantageous angular geometry. Also disclosed
is a soft grip surface, such as a gel pad, for the handle of a mobility
aid. The soft grip surface may be integral with the handle of the
mobility aid or may be sold as a separate part for retrofitting existing
mobility aids. The mobility aid may be provided with a variety of
individualized handles for accommodating a users' desire for specialized
comfort and personal stability needs.
1. A mobility aid comprising:at least a handle, an elongated shaft, and a
tip, wherein the handle has a portion extending substantially upright
from the shaft, a portion extending outwardly at an angle from the shaft,
and a top portion extending between the upright portion and the angled
portion, wherein the angled portion and the top portion are each curved
and the center of curvature of each portion is found on the side of the
handle bearing the angled portion.
2. The aid of claim 1 wherein the angle between the upright portion and the angled portion is between 25 and 50 degrees.
3. The aid of claim 1 wherein the angle between the upright portion and the top portion is between 25 and 50 degrees.
4. The aid of claim 1 wherein the angle between the angled portion and the top portion is between 25 and 50 degrees.
5. The mobility aid of claim 1, wherein the handle has a grasping portion comprising a resilient grip.
6. The mobility aid of claim 5 wherein the handle has a grasping portion comprising an unpadded portion.
7. The mobility aid of claim 6 wherein the resilient grip and unpadded portion are provided on opposing surfaces of the handle.
8. The mobility aid of claim 6 wherein the resilient grip is provided on an upper portion of the handle and the unpadded portion is provided on an underside portion of the handle.
9. The mobility aid of claim 1, further comprising a grip for the handle of the mobility aid comprising: a connection portion for attachment to the handle, and a resilient tactile portion for contacting the hand of the user.
10. The mobility aid of claim 1, wherein the handle has a forward portion extending in front of the elongated shaft and a rearward portion extending behind the elongated shaft.
11. The mobility aid of claim 10 wherein the forward portion comprises between 20 and 50% of the length of the handle.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to handles for canes, walkers, trek poles, walking sticks, and other mobility aids, and more particularly, relates to handles utilizing specialized shapes and materials.
2. Discussion of the Related Art
It is well understood that the present population distribution includes a disproportionately large number of people in middle age and/or approaching old age. It is also understood that this particular group of people understands the value of design changes that increase ergonomic functioning. In addition, the statistics indicate that this demographic has disposable income in quantities heretofore unknown, which has allowed many of its members to become accustomed to choices and amenities, even in medical equipment.
As a result, when this population is faced with the disabilities that sometimes come with age, if its members have a choice between, for example, a standard cane such as those typically available at medical supply houses, and a cane having an updated design featuring ergonomic and other comfort features, many are more likely to choose the updated design, even if it is notably more expensive than a standard cane.
Mobility aids that offer and incorporate various comfort features are available, but to date, these have failed to provide the stability and utility of traditional medical equipment. What is needed is a series of mobility aids that provide the benefits of traditional canes, walkers, and the like, but which are updated to provide additional benefits in terms of ergonomics and overall comfort. In addition, providing such updates in a way that meets the design and style preferences of the people who will be purchasing the mobility aids increases patient compliance and results in a decrease in injuries caused by non-compliance.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
A mobility aid such as a cane, trek pole, or walking stick typically includes at least a handle, an elongated shaft, and a tip. In one aspect of the mobility aid of the present invention, the handle has a portion extending substantially upright from the shaft, a portion extending at an angle from the shaft, e.g. at an angle of approximately 45 degrees, and a top portion extending between the upright portion and the angled portion.
In another aspect of the invention, the portion of the mobility aid which is intended to be grasped, such as the top portion of the cane disclosed above, is covered with a soft grip surface such as a gel pad. The soft grip surface of the present invention could be integral with the handle of the mobility aid, could be separate from the handle of the device, or could be sold separately in a manner that allows users to modify existing mobility aids to include the soft grip surface.
In yet another aspect of the invention, individualized handles may be provided to accommodate the users' desire for specialized comfort and stability features.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
Preferred exemplary embodiments of the invention are illustrated in the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numerals represent like parts throughout, and in which:
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the mobility aid of the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of the mobility aid of the present invention;
FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the mobility aid of the present invention;
FIG. 3A is an enlarged partial perspective view of the handle of the aid shown in FIG. 3;
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the mobility aid of the present invention;
FIG. 4A is an enlarged partial perspective view of the handle of the aid shown in FIG. 4;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of a third embodiment of the mobility aid of the present invention; and
FIG. 5A is an enlarged partial perspective view of the handle of the aid shown in FIG. 5.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
Referring to FIG. 1, it can be seen that mobility aid 20 is shown in the form of a cane. However, it should be noted that the features of the present invention apply equally to walkers, rollaters, trek poles, walking sticks, walking poles, and other mobility aids. Aid 20 has a handle 22, an elongated shaft 24, and a tip 26 for making contact with the ground, floor or other support surface. Handle 22 is further comprised of a generally upright portion 28 that extends upward from shaft 24. Handle 22 also has an angled portion 30 that extends at an angle from the shaft 24, such that the shaft 24 and the angled portion 30 define an acute angle therebetween (with reference to a downward-to-upward direction). Representatively, the angled portion 30 may extend at an angle of approximately 45 degrees away from the longitudinal axis of shaft 24. Handle 22 further includes a top portion 32 that connects the upright portion 28 and angled portion 30, and generally serves as the grasping portion of the mobility aid 20. Handle 22 features angles A, B, and C defined by the upright portion 28, angled portion 30, and top portion 32. The degree of each angle A, B, C is variable within a certain range, but is designed to produce the best results in terms of overall user comfort and ergonomic functioning. Angled portion 30 is especially useful as an auxiliary aid for the user when rising from a seated position.
As seen in FIG. 2, the precise shape and angles of handle 22 can be varied to yield an aid 20 having a different look and feel without departing from the present invention or the ergonomic benefits thereof. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the upright portion 28 does not extend directly upwardly relative to the longitudinal axis shaft 24. Rather, in this embodiment, the upright portion 28 angles outwardly in an opposite direction from angled portion 30, so that each outer end of top portion 32 is offset from the longitudinal axis of shaft 24. This variation provides the effect of centering the load of the user's weight over the vertical shaft, thus improving stability without adding any additional stress on the user. The advantages of this variation are also present in the embodiments shown in FIGS. 3 and 4 and corresponding FIGS. 3A and 4A, which are likewise constructed to better center the applied load over shaft 24 for improved stability and reduced skeletal stress. It should be noted that one or more of these handle variations could be employed on the same mobility aid 20 by providing a plurality of handles 22 on a single shaft 24.
Turning now to FIGS. 3-5, it can be seen that handles of various shapes and sizes incorporate a "soft" grip portion 34 for contacting the hand of the user. Grip portion 34 is preferably only located on the top portion of handles 22, leaving the remainder of the handle 22, including the underside, uncoated for gripping stability. The dual goals of comfort at the weight bearing portion and stable handling/gripping of the device by the user are met in this fashion.
In one preferred embodiment, grip portion 34 is constructed of a gel material contained within a pad that is secured to top portion 32, and which deforms in response to the gripping pressure of the user, thus producing a custom grip effect. A gel substance is currently contemplated as the best mode for producing this instantaneous custom grip effect, since it is relatively inexpensive and readily deforms/reforms almost indefinitely. However, other substances are certainly within the scope of the invention where such substances provide the gripping comfort desired for a handle.
As can be seen from the variety of shapes shown in FIGS. 3-5 and corresponding FIGS. 3A-5A, grip portion 34 may be constructed to fit a cane 20 having a handle 22 of many different shapes and sizes. Although not shown in the figures, it should be noted that grip portion 34 could also be applied to the P-shaped handles 22 shown in FIGS. 1 and 2.
Grip portion 34 may be provided integrally with handle 22 of a mobility aid 20, but may also be applied to a handle 22 of a mobility aid 20 as an after-market attachment. In such a case, it is contemplated that the grip portion 34 would be provided with an adhesive portion (not shown) provided on the opposite side of the gel portion. Naturally, there are a wide variety of ways to accomplish the connection of a grip portion 34 to an existing handle 22, all of which are contemplated as within the scope of the invention.
Patent applications by Bob Unkel, Grafton, WI US
Patent applications by Carol Pritzlaff Voss, Milwaukee, WI US
Patent applications by David Singer, Austin, TX US
Patent applications by Lee Schulz, Brookfield, WI US
Patent applications by Mark Koehneke, Chicago, IL US
Patent applications in class CANES, STICKS, CRUTCHES, AND WALKING AIDS
Patent applications in all subclasses CANES, STICKS, CRUTCHES, AND WALKING AIDS