Lifting and seating device
An apparatus for lifting a person from a supine position on the ground to a sitting position above ground level comprising at least one inflatable ring structure having a hollow, a flexible membrane and a collapsible support element, wherein the flexible membrane extends over at least a portion of the hollow to provide a seating surface for the person and the collapsible support element when erected projects in a substantially upward direction to support the person.
This invention relates to apparatus for raising and lowering persons. More specifically the invention relates to a device for raising a person from ground level and positioning the person up to a sitting position at chair level.
The invention has been devised primarily for use in assisting disabled, injured or infirm persons who may have fallen to the ground and need to be raised and assisted into a sitting position. Such persons may be manually lifted by other persons, however, this method usually requires more than one lifter and there are risks of injury to the lifter(s), especially if the person to be lifted is heavy.
Equipment such as hoists may be employed, however, these can be awkward and time-consuming to set up and are frequently not portable. There are also devices similar to powered sack-trucks fitted with appropriate seating that will lower to ground level but these devices, as with hoists, are not readily available to the point of need where a person has fallen.
Inflatable lifting cushions may also be employed to lift persons from ground level, but known devices require the person to be manually assisted into a sitting position before being elevated. Additionally, if the person cannot physically maintain a sitting posture, assistance in maintaining posture is required of the lifter. The applicant has patents for a pneumatically powered back rest, UK Patent No. 2301028 and U.S. Pat. No. 5,970,545. These patents disclose a device to lift a person from a supine to a sitting position, however, the device is intended for use on a bed and therefore the sitting position achieved is that in which the legs are substantially horizontal as they are supported by the bed. The applicant also has a patent for a pneumatic lifting device, UK Patent No. 2,296,429 comprising an inflatable seating structure and a backrest. This device requires the assistance of a lifter to assemble the device ready for use and to steady the person when being raised.SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The subject invention provides a structure, and method of manufacturing it, having one or more inflatable rings which can be used to lift a person from a supine position on the ground to a sitting position above ground.BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL VIEWS OF THE DRAWINGS
FIGS. 2 to 6 are perspective views of the apparatus at various stages of operation; and
A flexible membrane 7 is releasably attached to the top most ring structure 1 so that it covers part of the hollow 6 of the stack of structures. The flexible membrane 7 extends across the hollow to provide a seating surface for the user. The membrane 7 is provided with ridges 7b to reduce the risk of the user slipping over the membrane. The flexible membrane is attached to the upper most inflatable ring structure along three edges, two side edges A and B and a front edge C. Attached to the flexible membrane 7 along back edge D is a back support member 8. The back support member 8 comprises a back panel 9 and a support panel 10. The back panel 9 and support panel 10 shown are both inflatable structures, however, the back panel 9 may comprise a rigid structure. In
Since the flexible membrane 7 is connected to the back panel 9, the membrane 7 is raised from an initial sagging position in the hollow 6 to form a taut seating surface across the hollow 6 as the back support member 8 is inflated. The panels 9 and 10 are arranged in an inverted “Y” configuration and may be inflated together or individually through apertures (not shown). Panels 9 and 10 in the “Y” configuration stand over a portion 6a of the hollow which is not covered by the membrane 7. This can be more easily seen in
FIGS. 2 to 6 show the apparatus being used to raise a person 1 from a supine position on the ground to a sitting position above ground level. The ring structures 1 each have an aperture 2 to allow fluid, such as air, to enter and exit the structures and are each provided with air hoses 3 which may be attached to an air or other suitable fluid supply (not shown).
As shown in
The lowest ring structure 1 is then inflated until it is rigid as shown in
When all three ring structures 1 have been inflated, the back support member 8 can be inflated. Upon inflation of the back support member 8, the flexible membrane 7 is pulled taut across the hollow 6 in consequence of being attached to the support member 8 and thus then provides a firmer sitting base for the person 11. The back support member 8 pushes against the person 11 easing the person into a supported sitting position. The inflation of the back support member 8 is shown in
An alternative sequence of lifting can commence with fully inflating the back support member 8 to sit the person up. The ring structures 1 are then inflated sequentially starting with the lowest one. In this case, the flexible membrane 7 remains slack whilst the uppermost ring 1 is not fully inflated, thereby forming a hollow into which the person sinks for secure support. Full inflation of the uppermost ring tightens the membrane to provide a substantially level sitting surface.
The air hoses 3 may be attached to a hand control which can be operated by the person 11 him/herself. The air supply may be a compressed air supply having a cut off pressure to protect the apparatus from too high a pressure.
From the sitting position on the apparatus, the person 11 can then more easily get up onto his or her feet, or transfer to a wheelchair.
The stress on a unit length of the weld 15 at an internal corner of the structure is produced by the force, or forces within the structure acting on the area subtended by the unit length of weld as shown by the dashed lines in
The method of manufacturing the tubular structure 20 involves the steps of joining the ends of the gusset 17 to make a ring. The gusset is then stretched over a rectangular welding electrode or other suitably shaped mould having the same shape as the inflatable ring being produced. The lower shell panel of the tubular structure is then placed under the electrode or mould and the upper shell panel above it. The gusset is then welded to both panels and the welded assembly removed from the electrode. The periphery of the upper and lower shell panel area is then joined by a conventional ‘pinch’ welded seam 21 to form an air holding structure.
The apparatus described herein can be compacted and folded easily for storage. It also has the advantage that it is very light to carry, can be made ready for use very quickly and can be used in confined spaces inaccessible to conventional lifting apparatus.
1. Apparatus for lifting a person from a supine position on the ground to a sitting position above ground level, comprising at least one inflatable ring structure having a hollow, a flexible membrane and a collapsible support element, wherein the flexible membrane extends over at least a portion of the hollow to provide a seating surface for the person and the collapsible support element when erected projects in a substantially upward direction to support the person.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the flexible membrane is releasably attached to said at least one inflatable ring structure.
3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the collapsible support element is connected to the flexible membrane.
4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the support element is attached to an edge of the flexible membrane.
5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the flexible membrane comprises an edge to which the collapsible support element is attached and at least two other edges attached to the inflatable ring structure.
6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the flexible membrane is attached to the inflatable structure in a manner such that when the apparatus is in a collapsed position, the flexible membrane loosely covers at least a portion of the hollow.
7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein upon inflation of said at least one inflatable ring structure and erection of the support element, the flexible membrane is pulled taut across at least a portion of the hollow.
8. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein the collapsible support element comprises two members.
9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 8 wherein at least one of the two members comprises an inflatable structure.
10. Apparatus as claimed in claim 8 wherein upon erection the two members are arranged in an inverted “Y” arrangement.
11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 comprising a series of inflatable ring structures stacked on top of one another.
12. Apparatus as claimed in claim 11 wherein the inflatable structures are secured to one another by welding.
13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said at least one inflatable ring structure is of a rectangular form.
14. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 wherein said at least one inflatable ring structure is made from a tubular structure.
15. Apparatus as claimed in claim 14 wherein a portion of the wall of said at least one inflatable structure comprises a gusset.
16. Apparatus as claimed in claim 15 wherein the gusset is located axially along an inside part of the rectangular ring structure.
17. An inflatable ring structure comprising a bend or corner wherein a portion of the tubular structure comprises a gusset.
18. An inflatable tubular structure as claimed in claim 17 wherein the gusset is arranged on the inside of the bend or corner of the tubular structure.
19. An inflatable tubular structure as claimed in claim 17 wherein the tubular structure comprises an upper shell panel, a lower shell panel and a gusset.
20. An inflatable tubular structure as claimed in claim 19 wherein the gusset is connected to the upper and lower shell panels such that the connection seams between the gusset and the panels are not located on the central axial line of the surface of the tubular structure.
21. An inflatable structure as claimed in claim 17 wherein the method of making the ring structure comprises connecting the ends of the gusset together to form a ring, placing the ring around a ring mould, attaching a lower shell panel below the mould and an upper shell panel above the mould, joining the gusset to both panels, removing the mould and joining the upper and lower shell panels together.
Filed: Aug 3, 2006
Publication Date: Feb 8, 2007
Inventor: Richard Fletcher (Leominster)
Application Number: 11/498,945
International Classification: A47C 16/00 (20060101);