Patent application title: THERAPEUTIC BLOCKS AND THEIR METHODS OF MANUFACTURE AND USE
Julie Sever (Poqouson, VA, US)
IPC8 Class: AA47G910FI
Class name: Beds support means for discrete portion of user, useable with bed or surgical support for head or neck (e.g., pillow)
Publication date: 2012-12-06
Patent application number: 20120304388
An improved block system may comprise a plurality of individual members,
each member geometrically equivalent in shape and equivalent in size in
two dimensions, while being of varying thickness. The plurality of blocks
may be of malleable and/or semi-compressible material, and covered with
fabric or material suitable to easy cleaning and sterilization. The
plurality of blocks are utilized in a manner either singly or in groups
to accommodate and support a individual's head and neck while the
individual is being treated for musculoskeletal disorders. The invention
may be utilized with a standing or supine individual. The plurality of
blocks are further of a shape making them easily handleable and
stackeable by a therapist, physical trainer, or other professional. The
invention may also be utilized in a like manner to support an
individual's head and neck while performing other exercises or tasks
requiring head support.
1. A therapeutic block, the block comprising: A first surface and a
second surface wherein the first and second surface are planar and
parallel with respect to each other; A plurality of rectangular sides
that are perpendicular to the first surface and the second surface and
wherein each of the plurality of sides comprises a third surface and four
edges, the third surface being perpendicular to the plane of the first
surface and the second surface, one edge being joined to the first
surface, the edge opposite to the first edge being joined to the second
surface, and the remaining two edges being joined to corresponding edges
on corresponding sides.
2. The therapeutic block of claim 1 wherein the block is comprised of a material chosen from a group of materials that are semi-compressible.
3. The therapeutic block of claim 1 wherein the block further comprises an impermeable covering.
4. The therapeutic block of claim 3 wherein the impermeable covering is removable.
5. The therapeutic block of claim 1 wherein the first and second surface have outer circumferences that are defined by the number of the plurality of the generally rectangular sides.
6. The therapeutic block of claim 5 wherein the outer circumferences are octagonal.
7. The therapeutic block of claim 1 wherein the thickness of the block is determined by the distance between the first surface and the second surface, and where the distance between the first surface and the second surface is chosen from the group comprising 1'', 11/2'', 2'', and 21/2''.
8. A method of utilizing one or more therapeutic blocks, the method comprising the steps of: positioning a patient on a surface and the patient's posterior is against the surface; selecting from a group of therapeutic blocks from a plurality of therapeutic blocks for placement between the patient's head and the surface and wherein the plurality of therapeutic blocks comprise one or more therapeutic blocks of varying thickness; stacking the selected therapeutic blocks between the patient's head and the surface such that the patient's head and neck are aligned with the patient's spine; and having the patient perform therapeutic exercises.
9. The method of claim 8 wherein the plurality of therapeutic blocks comprise thereapeutic blocks whose thicknesses are 1'', 11/2'', 2'', and 21/2''.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
 1. Field of the Invention
 The present invention relates to a stackable apparatus for supporting an individual's head and neck during physical exercise or therapy. More particularly, the present invention relates to therapeutic blocks and methods of their manufacture and use for the correction of Forward Head Posture.
 2. Background and Description of the Prior Art
 Back and neck problems are common. There are numerous types of musculoskeletal problems, and one of increasing concern is Forward Head Posture ("FHP"). In an individual suffering from FHP, the person's head has become out of vertical alignment with the spine. The head is carried anterior to it's proper vertical alignment and has an increased curvature at the cervical spine. Because there is an additional ten pounds (10 lbs) of load place on the spine for every one inch (1'') the head is forward from vertical alignment, neck, shoulder, and back pain are frequently an issue.
 Current means of correction of FHP and/or handling individuals who suffer from FHP have some basic drawbacks. In those methods were mechanical correction is applied, there are weighted and tension devices and techniques intended to correct FHP. For example, one such solution includes wearing a weighted headband, the "Proposture": http://www.proposture.com/whatisit.html (proposture weighted headband). Yet another solution is a design that allows a user to use straps: http://www.posturejac.com/(posture jack--straps that pull down on the shoulders). However, such methods and devices are complicated, cumbersome, and/or not cost effective. They also are not adaptable to some treatment methods, nor do they measure progressive changes in head position throughout treatment.
 First, the prior art trains the head and neck muscles in a way that is either too complex for simple, everyday use, or is incapable of minute adjustments necessary to accommodate a wide range of physical needs of individuals. Secondly, the prior art does not train the head and neck muscles in a way that is responsive to the needs of individuals suffering from Forward Head Posture ("FHP") in such a way that the device can be utilized in therapy specifically designed to 1) assist in correcting FHP, and 2) properly and safely providing adjustable support for an individual while undergoing therapeutic exercises intended to correct FHP. The prior art also does.
 What is needed, therefore, is a method and device for effectively treating, through physical therapy, Forward Head Posture. Such a method and device should include the ability to adjust the support needed for an individual dependent upon the particular physiology of that individual so that specific muscles can be targeted in the treatment of FHP with the goal of improving spinal alignment and posture, precisely measuring progress, and clearly demonstrating improvement. In the treatment field, it is desirable to have methods and devices that may be used with a variety of therapeutic exercise techniques for a variety of individuals and their conditions. It is further desirable to have methods and devices that are cost effective, adaptable and easy to manufacture.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention is a method and device for physical exercise or therapy. It is an object of the present invention to provide stackable set of blocks to assist in the physical therapy of a individual suffering from Forward Head Posture. The blocks are adjustable by stacking two or more of the blocks of varying size to support an individual's head and neck; the correct number of blocks is chosen based upon the individual's particular physiology.
 A preferred embodiment of the present invention includes a perimeter of sufficient structural rigidity so as to allow the formation of a stack of the blocks of the present invention without significant deformation of the blocks. The blocks in a preferred embodiment are octagonal in shape around the circumference, with flat parallel surfaces comprising the top and bottom of each of the blocks. The octagonal shape allows for easy handling individually, easy stacking, and easy handling once two or more of the blocks are used in conjunction to provide the desired support.
 It should be understood that the present invention also includes a method for treating problems associated with Forward Head Posture. The method includes providing an adjustable series of stackable block blocks for supporting an individual's head in a desired relationship to the individual's spine, each block including a body with a pair of substantially parallel surfaces. One parallel surface is placed in contact with a individual's head and the second parallel surface is either placed in contact with the surface against which the individual is positioned (i.e., wall, floor, table, or the like) or placed in contact with a parallel surface of a second block. The blocks are chosen from a group of blocks comprising increasing thickness between the parallel surfaces, which in a preferred embodiment are 1'', 11/2'', 2'', and 21/2''. The groups of blocks chosen for use in therapy or exercise will be different for different applications, and the thickness of the blocks may be chosen from a group of smaller and/or larger thicknesses, as well as being chosen from a group of blocks with smaller or larger thickness increments (i.e., blocks that differ by 1/4'' or 1'' in thickness) without deviation from the scope and spirit of this invention. Groups of blocks in accordance with the present invention may comprise two or more blocks of any combination of thickness.
DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a stackable block.
 FIG. 2 is a view of an embodiment of the present invention showing a plurality of stackable blocks shown in a stacked arrangement.
 FIG. 3 illustrates the use of the present invention to accommodate an individual's head in both a supine and upright position.
DESCRIPTION OF A PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
 Referring now to FIG.1, a block 101 is shown in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The block 101 is shown as being octagonal in shape around the circumference, but it will be understood to those skilled in the art that other geometric shapes may be utilized without deviating from the scope and intent of the present invention. Block 101 comprises a first surface 102 and a second surface 103, with the first surface 102 and the second surface 103 being planar and parallel with respect to each other. The thickness of the block 101 is determined by the height of the sides 104, with the sides 104 being perpendicular to the plane of the first surface 102 and the second surface 103. The sides 104 as shown are generally rectangular in shape, with the ratios of the top and bottom 105 of the sides 104 to the vertical portions 106 of the sides being determined by the desired thickness of the block 101. The first surface 102 and the second surface 103 are of a diameter that is sufficient to make the block 101 easy to handle and have a surface area large enough to contact and support a individual's head, but small enough to be easily handled and not intrude on the exercise and other activities necessary for the therapy or other exercise and rehabilitation activities.
 Referring now to FIG. 2, a view of an embodiment of the present invention is shown with a plurality of blocks 101 in a stackable arrangement. The plurality of blocks 101 are organized for the purposes of this figure in ascending order according to size, ranging from the smallest block 201 through 202, 203, and finally the largest 204. The number and size combination of blocks 101 chosen will depend upon the specific needs of an individual. The preferred octagonal shape of the blocks 101 allows for easy handling and stacking.
 When in use, as shown in FIG. 3, one or more blocks 101 are shown with an individual 301, and are used to maintain the individual's head 302 at a desired distance from the surface 303 against which the individual is positioned. The surface 303 may be a floor, a wall, a table or exercise bench, or other equivalent desired surface. The choice of surface 303 will depend upon the particular exercises and/or therapy being utilized by or on behalf of the individual 301. The desired distance will keep the individual's spine 304 and related structures in a set position.
 While using the present invention, in a preferred embodiment, the desired distance is chosen to be less than the distance from the surface that the individual is otherwise holding their head 302 and spine 303. An increased distance from the surface 302 than would normally be proper or healthy results from Forward Head Position. The present invention is utilized over a course of therapy to assist in correcting the problem of Forward Head Position in a individual 301 by, over time, reducing the desired distance from the surface 303 by using combinations of blocks 101 that result in the gradual reduction of thickness of the stack of blocks 101 (as shown in FIG. 2), and therein having the individual, with the reduction of the desired distance from the surface 303, gradually be restored to a more normal and healthy posture as opposed to Forward Head Posture.
 The present invention may be utilized either during a therapy or exercise session with a therapist, doctor, or the like, or the present invention may be utilized by an individual either through the direction of a health care professional or exercise professional. For example, while conducting personal exercises either at home, the gym, or elsewhere, an individual may utilize the blocks 101 by selecting the thickness combination that will comfortably support their head, neck, and upper spine in alignment while exercising.
 The present invention may also be utilized for providing support to an individual in circumstances that are not related to therapy and/or exercise. For example, while working on vehicles or in other circumstances requiring an individual to rest on a floor or another surface, the present invention may be utilized to provide support to the person's head while they are performing such tasks.
 In a preferred embodiment, the blocks comprise a semi-compressible foam or other material with a covering that is impermeable and may be cleaned and sanitized for use with multiple individuals or individuals. It will be understood that in some applications, it may be preferable to have firmer and/or or softer material comprising the core of the blocks in order to accommodate different therapy and/or exercise regimens. Using firmer and/or softer material may also accommodate the needs of different individuals.
 In another embodiment, the present invention may be provided with removable covers for the blocks that may be cleaned and sanitized for use with multiple patients or individuals. In yet another embodiment, the present invention may be provided with removable covers that are disposable, and thus avoid potential cross-contamination between individuals and users.
 In yet another embodiment, the invention may further comprise hook-and-loop or other fastening means between stacked blocks in order to provide more stability to the invention as its being utilized.
 The invention herein has been described in detail, and in light of the FIGS. 1-3. It will be understood, however, that the description herein is not intended to be limiting, and variations in materials and configuration of the invention may be made without exceeding the scope of the invention.
Patent applications in class For head or neck (e.g., pillow)
Patent applications in all subclasses For head or neck (e.g., pillow)