BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to devices and methods for enhancing self-exercise by individuals with limited mobility, e.g. those who are partially or fully immobile.
2. Description of the Related Art
In the prior art various exercise devices and methods such as weights, elastic ropes and mechanical apparatus have been employed for use by patients in hospitals, medical clinics and as out-patients such as in physical therapy facilities or at home. However, the prior devices have not been found completely suitable for proper self-exercise by patients who are partially or fully immobile, such as those confined to a bed or in a wheelchair. It would be desirable to provide a device which enables immobile patients to self-exercise in a manner that allows a range of exercise motion to decrease pain, promotes mobility through the spine and extremities, and assists with functional movement and to regain ambulation skills.
The need has therefore been recognized for exercise devices and methods for use by individuals who are partially or fully immobile which obviates the foregoing and other problems and disadvantages of exercise devices of this type. Despite the various exercise devices in the prior art, there has heretofore not been provided a suitable and attractive solution to these problems and disadvantages.
OBJECTS OF THE INVENTION
It is an object of this invention to provide new and improved exercise devices and methods.
Another object is to provide devices and methods of the type described which enable self-exercise by individuals who are partially or fully immobile.
Another object is to provide devices and methods of the type described which allow a range of exercise motion for immobile patients to decrease pain, to promote mobility through the spine and extremities, to assist with functional movement and to regain ambulation skills.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with one preferred embodiment of the invention.
FIG. 2 is a side elevation view to an enlarged scale of the hand-held strap which is a component of the device of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the device of FIG. 1 showing different methods of use of the device of FIG. 1 by a patient on a bed.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
In the drawings FIG. 1 illustrates generally at 10 the self-exercise device of a preferred embodiment of the invention. Device 10 is shown in use for self exercise by a patient 12 in supinated position on a bed 14. The device can also be used by patients sitting in wheelchairs or the like.
Self-exercise device 10 is comprised of a mobile platform 16 which carries a support frame 18 from which one or more strap units 20, 22 are suspended over the patient.
Mobile platform 16 is comprised of a pair of horizontal, spaced-apart support tubes24, 26 from which a plurality, shown as four, of wheels 28, 30 are mounted. The wheels can be provided with suitable locking devices, not shown, which when engaged resist movement of the platform when the device is in use. An upright tubular support 32 is mounted near one end of the platform, and this support comprises a pair of vertically spaced horizontal tubular cross beams 34, 36.
Support frame 18 is comprised of a vertical upper column 38 which fits in sliding, telescoping relationship within a lower column 39. The two columns are hollow and of rectangular cross-section to resist twisting about a vertical axis. Lower column 38 is mounted on the cross beams 34 and 36 by means of a pair of suitable fastening devices 40, 42, which can be bolts A suitable fastening device 44 holds the upper column at a desired vertical position, which can be manually adjusted, within the lower column. Fastening device 44 can be a bolt that extends through horizontally aligned holes in the lower column and also through vertically spaced pairs of aligned holes 45 formed through the lower end of the upper column.
Support frame 18 further comprises a horizontal cantilever beam 46 that has a proximal end 48 and distal end 50. The proximal end is mounted on the top of column 38. The ends 48 and 50 are of hollow rectangular cross section and are fitted together in sliding, telescoping relationship. The length of beam 46 can be shortened or lengthened, as required, by the health care professional moving the distal end in or out and then affixing the two together by a suitable releasable fastener 52. The fastener can be a bolt that is fitted into a pair of aligned holes formed through the proximal end and also through selected spaced pairs of aligned holes 54 in the distal end.
The cantilever beam's proximal and distal ends along their lower sides are formed with a series of spaced-apart key-hole shaped openings 56 which releasably attach the upper ends of strap units 20 and 22. This enables the health care professional to mount one or more of the strap units that may be desired for a particular exercise routine. Further, this arrangement enables the units to be horizontally adjusted to an overhead position which is suitable for the patient by mounting each unit in the appropriate opening 56.
Strap unit 22, best shown in FIG. 2, is for a patient's use in self-exercising his or her arms and back. The unit comprises a strand 58 of stretchable elastic material, such as rubber tubing, or an elastic band such as sold under the brand name Theraband®.
Strand 58 is looped through an eyelet 60, which can be of Nylon® material. The eyelet is formed with a center aperture 61 and has an upper end that is necked down with an enlarged key-like end 62. The end 62 is sized and shaped for releasable fitment within one of the openings 56 of the cantilever beam. Hand-holds 64, 66 are secured through small loops 68, 70 that are provided at the opposite ends of the strand. In use, the patient grasps both hand-holds to pull on the strand, and relaxes to allow the elastic to pull the arms up. This is repeated for the desired number of repetitions or “reps.”
Strap unit 20, shown in FIG. 1, is for use by a patient in self-exercising one or both legs. The unit is comprised of a stretchable strand 72, which can be of the same material described for strand 58. The strand is formed into a loop which is placed through an eyelet 74 that can be of the same construction described for eyelet 60. The patient's leg is supported by the lower end of the loop. In any number of “reps” the patient pulls his or her leg down to stretch the strand and then relaxes to allow the elastic to pull the leg back up.
A strap and pulley combination 76 , shown in FIG. 3, is employed for self-exercise of the patient's torso and arm. This comprises a backstrap 78 which is folded below and around the patient's lower back. Opposite sides of the backstrap are connected to one end of a strand 80, which could be either stretchable or inextensible, as desired. The strand 80 is reeved around a pulley 82 which is mounted to the cantilever beam by an eyelet 84 of the type described above. The opposite end of the strand is provided with a hand-hold 86. In use, the patient pulls down on and then releases the hand-hold, causing the strand and backstrap to move the torso up and down.
Use of the exercise devices of the invention give a number of beneficial results, including: 1) an improved inner joint segmental range of motion to decrease pain, 2) promoting mobility through the spine and extremities, 3) assisting functional movement, and 4) regaining ambulation skills. Further, the invention allows a patient to sustain exercise for a prolonged period of time in a pain free range.
While the foregoing embodiments are at present considered to be preferred it is understood that numerous variations and modifications may be made therein by those skilled in the art and it is intended to cover in the appended claims all such variations and modifications as fall within the true spirit and scope of the invention.