|1.||A cushion comprising a plurality of arch¬ like sections formed from a resilient material and arranged in rows that are located sidebyside such that the arch¬ like sections of one row may deflect generally independent¬ ly of the archlike sections of another row in the presence of a load.|
|2.||A cushion according to claim 2 wherein the resilient material from which the archlike sections are formed is a foamed polymer; wherein the archlike sections have spaced apart convex and concave surfaces and side faces extended generally between the convex and concave surfaces; and wherein side faces of the archlike sections in adjacent rows face each other.|
|3.||A cushion according to claim 2 wherein the archlike sections of any one row do not align with the archlike sections of a row that is adjacent to that one row.|
|4.||Acushion comprising a resilient material having a front face which is presented toward the user of the cushion and a back face which is presented away from the user of the cushion, the front face being comprised of a succession of convex surfaces, with adjacent convex surfaces in the succession generally merging at valleys.|
|5.||A cushion according to claim , wherein the resilient material is a polymer foam and includes a plural¬ ity of strips which are arranged sidebyside and are staggered such that the convex surfaces of adjacent strips are offset with respect to each other, whereby the convex surfaces of each strip are located next to the valleys of the strips adjacent to that strip.|
|6.||A cushion according to claim 5 wherein the back face of each strip includes a succession of con¬ cave surfaces that are located directly behind the convex surfaces.|
|7.||A cushion according to claim 6 wherein there is a single concave surface behind each convex surface.|
|8.||A cushion according to claim 7 wherein the back face of each strip also includes intermediate sur¬ faces located between and separating adjacent concave sur¬ faces, there being a separate intermediate surface lo¬ cated immediately behind each valley.|
|9.||A cushion according to claim 6 wherein each strip is rectangular in transverse crosssection and has parallel side faces along which the strip abuts adjacent strips.|
|10.||A cushion according to claim 5 and further comprising a cover extended over the front faces of the strips. OMP.|
This invention relates in general to cushions and more particularly to cushions formed from a resilient ma¬ terial such as a foamed polymer.
The typical cushion used for supporting the body in a prone position or a seated position, such as a mattress, a seat cushion, or a padded back rest, acts much like a conventional coil spring in that the restoring force ex¬ erted against a body which deforms it is generally pro¬ portional to the extent of the deformation. Thus, in the case of a mattress, the hip region might protrude further into the mattress than the adjoining waist or thigh regions, and as a consequence the supporting pressure exerted by the mattress would be greater at the hip than at the adjoining thigh or the waist. From both the standpoint of comfort and health it is not desirable to concentrate the supporting force at any particular region of the body.
With individuals who are confined to bed for ex¬ tended periods of time it is most important to avoid pro¬ longed concentration of the supporting force on particular regions of the body. Indeed, any skin area to which sus¬ tained pressure is applied experiences a reduction in the flow of blood and as a consequence this particular skin area does not receive sufficient oxygen or nutrients. Decubities ulcers may develop as a result of these deficiencies, and these ulcers can be quite uncomfortable as well as life- threatening. Individuals who have become immobile or sen¬ sitive to touch require a cushion that does not interfere with blood flow at sensitive skin areas. Suspension forces
that are distributed in a hydrostatic-like manner cause the least interference with blood flow and are least likely to produce cell neurosis.
Individuals who are immobile often have dif- ficient lymph systems, and it is one's lymph system that controls the onset or extent of edema, which in itself is a debilitating condition. However, edema may be minimized at the contact site on the skin area and its debilitating effects likewise minimized by the application of a hydr- static-like counter pressure to the body.
Thus, it is desirable to have a body supporting cushion, whether it be in the form of a mattress, a seat cushion, or a back rest, which applies a generally,uniform supporting pressure, that is a hydrostatic-like counter pressure, over the skin area in contact with it. Hereto¬ fore, cushions have been developed which approach this end, but these cushions rely on entrapped fluids, such as air or water, and are therefore complicated in construction and expensive to manufacture. Moreover, these cushions, for the most part, do not allow air to circulate around the sup¬ ported area, and the absence of air is also harmful to the skin.
Conventional cushions of the type formed from resilient foam materials, such as expanded polyurethane, on the other hand, are simple and inexpensive to manufac¬ ture, but they do not exert uniform supporting pressure on the supported region of the body. Instead, they behave much in the same manner as a conventional spring mattress.
The principal objects of the present invention is to provide a cushion which may utilize a conventional re¬ silient foam material for its cushioning properties, yet exerts on the supported object a pressure that is generally uniform over the entire area of the object that is in con¬ tact with it. Accordingly, the present invention provides a cushion comprising a plurality of arch-like sections formed from a resilient material and arranged in rows that are
located side-by-side such that the arch-like sections of one row may deflect generally independently of the arch¬ like sections of another row in the presence of a load.
The cushion of the present invention is simple in construction and easy and inexpensive to manufacture. The cushion permits air to circulate in that region of a sup¬ ported body that is in contact with the cushion. Fur¬ ther, the cushion of the present invention enables fluids to drain away from a body supported on the cushion. The cushion of the present invention can also be easily dis¬ assembled for cleaning. These and other features and ad¬ vantages will become apparent hereinafter.
In the accompanying drawings which form part of the specification and wherein like numerals and letters refer to like parts wherever they occur:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of a cushion con¬ structed in accordance with the present invention, the cover of the cushion being broken away to expose the* foam strips that provide the cushioning characteristics; Figure 2 is a sectional view of the cushion taken along line 2-2 of Figure 1;
Figure 3 is a sectional view of the cushion taken along line 3-3 of Figure 2; and
Figure 4 is a partial fragmentary view of one of the strips in the cushion.
Referring now to the drawings, a cushion A (Fig¬ ure 1) , which takes the form of a mattress, displaces to conform to the contours of the human body, and in so doing exerts a supporting counter pressure on the skin area that is in contact with it. That pressure is generally uni¬ form and its deforming effects on the tissues of the body supported by it are minimal. Thus, even though the hip region may protrude further into the cushion A than the waist region or the thigh region, the pressure exerted on the skin a all of those regions remains essentially the same. The
cushion A includes strips 2 of resilient foam which are arranged side-by-side, and each of the strips 2 is composed of a succession of arch-like segments 4. Each segment 4 in turn has six degrees of freedom, that is it can be displaced to the left or to the right, forwardly or backwardly, and upwardly or downwardly. The strips 2 are held together in any one of several ways that do not prevent their arch¬ like segments 4 from deflecting individually. While the cushion A described herein is configured to serve as a at- tress, obvious alterations in size will render it useful as a seat cushion, or as a back rest, or for any other type of cushioning device in which it is desirable to have generally uniform supporting characterisitcs.
Each strip 2 is an integral structure that is formed from a resilient foam material such as expanded polyurethane. It is of uniform thickness t (Fig. 4) , having planar side faces 6 that are parallel. Along these side faces 6 the strip 2 contacts the strips 2 immediately" adjacent to it in the cushion A, but preferably the strips 2 are completely detached from each other at their abutting side faces 6. If the strip 2 is connected to the adjacent strip 2 it should be only along the lower margins of the strips 2, with the connection preferably taking the form of a small region of adhesive in the nature of a tack. The downwardly presented face of each strip 2, that is its back face, is composed of alternating planar surfaces 8 and concave surfaces 10, and accordingly the surfaces 8 are in effect intermediate surfaces located be¬ tween the concave surfaces 10. The planar surfaces 8 rest on a subjacent supporting surface which may be a conven¬ tional mattress or even a mattress board. Thus, the cushion A is itself supported at its planar surfaces 8. Inasmuch as the planar surfaces 8 extend across the entire thickness of the strip 2, the width of each surface 8 is equal to the thickness t of the strip 2, and the same holds true with respect to concave surfaces 10. The planar surfaces 8
have a length s (Fig. 4) . Each concave surface 10 is pref¬ erably the arc of a circle having a radius r, . Preferably each concave surface 10 extends 180° between the two planar surfaces 8 at each end of it. Thus, the centers of curva- ture for the concave surfaces 10 are in the plane of the planar surfaces 8.
The upwardly presented face, that is the front face, of each strip 2 is composed of a succession of con¬ vex surfaces 12 which intersect at valleys 14, there being a separate convex surface 12 located immediately beyond each concave surface 10. Thus, the concave and con¬ vex surfaces 10 and 12 create the succession of arch-like segments 4 in the strip 2. Each convex surface 12 ex¬ tends entirely across the strip 2 and forms the arc of a circle having a radius r 2 (Figure 4) , with the center of curvature for that arc being coincident with the center of curvature for the concave surface 10 located immediately inwardly from it. The radius r 2 for the convex front sur¬ faces 12 should be greater than radius r, by a magnitude which depends on the bending properties of the resilient material, to develop the desired counter force for that par¬ ticular arch-like element 4. The arrangement should be such that concave surfaces 10 rise to slightly less than the elevation of the valleys 14, but the valleys 14, being offset from the concave surfaces 10, do not impair the ' strength or resiliency of the strip 2. Indeed, the width w of the strip 2 remains relatively constant throughout the length of the strip 2, and that width is the difference between the radii r~ and r, for the two arcuate surfaces 12 and 8, respectively. Actually, the thickness increases somewhat at the ends of the arcuate surfaces 8, so that the strip 2 has its greates thickness at the valleys 14.
Since the centers of the arch-like segments 4 project farthest, any load as applied to the cushion will appear initially at the centers of the convex surfaces 12, and not at the valleys 14. If the load is applied directly
downwardly, or more precisely toward the plane of the sur¬ faces 8, as it will in most instances, the arch-like segments 4 which are subjected to the load will yield near the valleys 14 and will cave inwardly toward the plane of the surfaces 8. The arch-like segments 4 yield with a some¬ what uniform force and hence the counter pressure applied to the load is generally uniform over the areas in contact with the arch-like segments 4. If the force imparted by the load is skewed, that is oblique to the plane of the planar surfaces 8, the arch-like segments 4 will likewise yield in the direction of the load, and again this yielding will oc¬ cur primarily in the regions of the valleys 14. Thus, the arch-like elements 4 may yield laterally in either di¬ rection or longitudinally in either direction with a near- ly constant force throughout a useful range of travel.
The strips 2, while being positioned side-by- • side in the cushion A, are offset such that the voids formed by the concave surfaces 8 in any one strip are located op¬ posite the planar areas 8 of the strips 2 positioned im- mediately adjacent to it (Figures 2 and 3) . As a consequence, the voids at the valleys 14 in any strip 2 are located opposite to the sides of the arch-like segments 4 on the adjacent strips 2. In other words, the strips 2 are stag¬ gered such that the valleys 14 of any strip 2 are centered with respect to the arch-like segments 4 on the adjacent strips 2, and this places the concave surfaces 10 of the one strip 2 alongside the valleys 14 of the two adjacent strips 2. Thus, one traversing the cushion A, that is moving cross¬ wise over the upper or front face of the cushion A, will encounter alternate convex surfaces 12 and valleys 14 of different strips 2. Similarly, one moving longitudinally along any particular strip 2 will likewise encounter al- terante convex surfaces 12 and valleys 14 within the same strip 2. The strips 2 may be held together merely by
stretchable cover 16 (Figure 1) , or they may be joined to¬ gether by an adhesive along their side faces, in which case the cover 16 may not be necessary. However, the ad¬ hesive bonds should be of very limited area and should be as close to the planar surfaces 8 as possible, so that one strip 2 does not impede flexure of the strips 2 that are adjacent to it. Also, all of the strips 2 may be ad¬ hesively bonded independently of each other to a flat un¬ derlying support member 18, in which case the adhesive would be along the planar surfaces 8. The underlying mem¬ ber 18 may be somewhat flexible or rigid. Other types of attachment at the planar surfaces 8 are also suitable. For example, Velcro fasteners may be sued to secure the strips 2 to an underlying member 18. Each strip 2 is preferably formed independently, and may either be molded in the undulating configuration that it possesses or may be cut from a rectilinear strip of foam material. Similarly, the undulating configuration formed by the succession of alternating convex surfaces 12 and valleys 14 may be derived by compressing a rectangular strip of foam material, alternately from one side and then the other, and then slitting the foam material along a planar cut that is centered between the opposite regions where it is compressed. When the forces causing the com- pressions are released, the foam material assumes its natural configuration and the planar cut transforms into an undulating surface. Irrespective of how the strips 2 are formed, they may be coated with a vinyl so that they are impervious to water and body fluids. Similarly, if they are cast in a mold, they may be cast with a sealed surface, that is a skin.
In a typical cushion A that is suitable for use as a mattress, the following dimensions for the strips 2 are acceptable where the foam is polyurethane having a
density of 21bs/ft 3 : radius r, of concave surface 8 - 2 inches radius r 2 of convex surface 12 - 5 inches length s of planar area 8 - 4 inches width t of strip 2 - 2 1/2 inches
If the cover 4 is used over the front faces of the strips 2 of foam material, either *- 0 hold those strips 2 together as previously mentioned, or to provide a more uniform supporting surface, the material of the cover 2 should preferably be capable of stretching both longitudinal¬ ly and transversely or should, in other words, have two- way stretch characteristics.
Whenever, the cushion A is deformed, such as by an individual lying or sitting upon it, the supporting pres- sure exerted by the deformed area will remain relatively constant irrespective of the extent of the deformation. Thus, the cushion A exerts a generally uniform pressure over the skin area that is against it, even though some skin area may be immersed in the cushion A more than others. Moreover, the cushion A is wider than the in¬ dividual who lies or sits upon it and accordingly some of the strips 2 will remain undeflected to the side of that individual. These strips 2 tend to cradle the individual and prevent him from rolling off the cushion A. To enhance the cradling effect, the side strips 2 may be formed from a foam material that is somewhat more resilient than the foam material of the remaining strips that are located clos¬ er to the center of the cushion A. By the same token, the radius for the concave surfaces 10 on the outer strips 2 may be increased to give the outer strips 2 greater body and therefore less resilience, or the outer strips may be merely of block form, that is completely free of arch-like segments 4.
The concave and convex surfaces 8 and 12 need not be arcuate in the sense that they are circular, but
instead may possess other curved configurations such as ellipsoidal or parabolic configuration. Moreover, the con¬ cave and convex surfaces 8 and 12 of any strip 2 may be of different curved configuration, such as one may be of cir- cular configuration and the other of ellipsoidal con¬ figuration. Also, the cushion A, particularly when it is used in narrower configurations, may be composed merely of a single strip 2 which is considerably wider than the strips 2 when used in a staggered arrangement. On the other hand, when formed from multiple strips 2 , some of those strips 2 may be inverted such that their planar and concave sur¬ faces 8 and 10 are presented upwardly, while in other strips 2 may be upright in the normal disposition.
The valleys 14 in the forwardly or upwardly pre- sented surfaces of the cushion A provide regions where air can contact the supported body. Moreover, when the valleys 14 are in staggered strips 2, the valleys 14 of one strip 2 may open into the voids delineated by the concave sur¬ faces 8 in an adjacent strip and this enables air to cir- culate freely through the valleys 14 and adjacent to the portion of the body supported at those areas.
When the strips 2 are not joined to each other or permanently to a base member, they may be removed from the cushion A and cleaned individually. This invention is intended to cover all changes and modifications of the example of the invention herein chosen for purposes of the disclosure which do not con¬ stitute departures from the spirit of the invention.