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Title:
DEVICE TO FACILITATE MANUAL OPERATIONS
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/1988/005641
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An article to facilitate certain manual operations is elongate, is bifurcated at one end to form a pair of mutually divergent prongs (12, 13), is tapered to a tip (16) at the other end, and defines an intermediate portion (18) spaced from the tip between the prongs and the tip which is relatively enlarged so that it is at least somewhat broader than it is thick and has a bottom (21) in a plane for resting stably on a flat surface. The taper is at least in the overall dimension of the article normal to the aforesaid plane. The tip (16) is at the end of a terminal portion (14) which is shaped as a shoehorn, and at least part of each of the divergent prongs is shaped to be clear from said floor surface when the intermediate portion (18) is resting thereon.

Inventors:
Ryan
Austin
Timothy, Ryan
Paul
Edward
Application Number:
PCT/AU1988/000029
Publication Date:
August 11, 1988
Filing Date:
February 03, 1988
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Ryan
Austin
Timothy, Ryan
Paul
Edward
International Classes:
A47G25/86; A47G25/90; A47L23/04; D06F5/00; (IPC1-7): A47G25/80; A47G25/90
Foreign References:
FR605808A1926-06-02
US3526346A1970-09-01
US4355745A1982-10-26
US3501073A1970-03-17
BE900356A1984-12-03
FR865040A1941-05-12
US1690516A1928-11-06
US2628007A1953-02-10
US2939618A1960-06-07
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Claims:
CLAIMS
1. An article to facilitate certain manual operations, which article is elongate, is bifurcated at one end to form a pair of mutually divergent prongs, is tapered to a tip at the other end, and defines an intermediate portion spaced from said tip between said prongs and said tip which is relatively enlarged so that it is at least somewhat broader than it is thick and has a bottom in a plane for resting stably on a flat surface, wherein said taper is at least in the overall dimension of the article normal to said plane, said tip is at the end of a terminal portion which is shaped as a shoehorn, and at least part of each of said divergent prongs is shaped to be clear from said floor surface when the intermediate portion is resting thereon.
2. An article according to claim 1 wherein said terminal portion of the article adjacent said tip is of substantially uniform or almost uniform breadth parallel to said plane but of increasing concavity towards said tip.
3. An article according to claim 1 or 2 wherein said divergent prongs include respective longitudinally extending inside flanges defining the upper extremities of the prongs relative to said plane, which flanges define a vshaped recess therebetween which may be employed to grip the heel of a shoe or boot above the sole to facilitate removal of the shoe or boot from the user's foot.
4. An article according to claim 3 wherein said flanges include respective means adjacent the free end of the prongs for suspending the article for storage.
5. An article according to claim 1, 2 or 3 wherein the lateral upper margins of the intermediate portion extend beyond the lateral margins of said terminal portion and are inclined downwardly and outwardly to facilitate the introduction of a user's foot onto the intermediate portion to stabilize the article.
6. An article according to any preceding claim wherein said intermediate portion further includes an aperture by which the article may be hooked off the floor surface.
7. An article according to any preceding claim wherein each of said divergent prongs includes a depending leg portion at its outer end which contacts or almost contacts a floor surface when the article is resting stably on the surface.
8. An article according to claim 6 wherein the lower edge of each prong smoothly curves into the respective said leg portion to facilitate grasping of the prong by a hand of reduced strength.
9. An article according to any preceding claim wherein said terminal portion is slightly elevated with respect to said plane containing the bottom of the intermediate portion.
10. An article according to any preceding claim, formed in a plastics material.
11. An article according to any preceding claim, including hinging means whereby the article may be folded up to a reduced size for storage.
Description:
"DEVICE TO FACILITATE MANUAL OPERATIONS"

This invention relates to an article to facilitate certain manual operations. While the article is generally useful to any person, it is of particular interest to the elderly or infirm or to others whose general mobility is difficult or restricted.

The article of the invention is elongate and is bifurcated at one end to form a pair of mutually divergent prongs. At the other end, the article is tapered to a tip. An intermediate portion is spaced from the tip between the prongs and the tip and is relatively enlarged so that it is at least somewhat broader than it is thick and has a bottom in a plane for resting stably on a flat surface. The taper to the tip is at least in the overall dimension of the article normal to the aforementioned plane. The tip

is at the end of a terminal portion shaped as a shoehorn. At least part of each of the divergent prongs is shaped to be clear from the floor surface when the intermediate portion is resting thereon.

The article is advantageously integrally formed, e.g. moulded, in a suitable strong plastics material. It may include a longitudinal cavity in its under surface, especially in the region of said intermediate portion, to reduce its weight and the mass of material.

The terminal portion of the article adjacent the tip is of substantially uniform or almost uniform breadth parallel to the aforementioned plane but of increasing concavity towards the tip. As noted, this terminal portion including the tip is formed in the shape of a shoehorn and may be employed to facilitate the putting on of shoes or the removal of socks from the user's feet.

The divergent prongs advantageously include respective longitudinally extending inside flanges defining the upper extremities of the prongs. These flanges preferably define a v-shaped recess therebetween which may be employed to grip the heel of a shoe or boot above the sole to facilitate removal of the shoe or boot from the user's foot.

The lateral upper margins of the intermediate portion preferably extend beyond the lateral margins of said terminal portion and are advantageously inclined downwardly and outwardly to facilitate the introduction of a user's foot onto the intermediate portion to stabilize the article, e.g. while it is being used to remove a shoe from the other foot. This intermediate portion may advantageously further include an aperture by which

the article may be hooked off the floor surface with any suitable object, for example a second of the articles of the invention.

Each of the divergent prongs preferably includes a depending leg portion at its outer end which contacts or almost contacts a floor surface when the article is resting stably on the surface. The lower edge of each prong preferably smoothly curves into this leg portion to facilitate grasping of the prong by a hand of reduced strength, for example a hand affected by arthritis or Parkinson's disease.

The aforesaid terminal portion is preferably slightly elevated with respect to the plane containing the bottom of the intermediate portion. This is intended to minimise the risk of damage to the tip when a stabilizing foot is placed on the article.

The invention will be further described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:

Figures 1 and 2 are perspective views of an article according to the invention, respectively from in front of or above the article and from behind or below the article;

Figures 3, 4 and 5 are respectively plan, underneath and side elevational views of the article;

Figure 6 is a longitudinal central cross-section on the line 6-6 in Figure 3; and

Figures 7A to 7G comprises several cross-sections as indicated with respect to Figure 3.

The illustrated article 10 for facilitating certain manual operations is elongate and is integrally moulded in a suitable strong plastics

material. The article is bifurcated at one end to form a pair of mutually divergent prongs, 12, 13. At the other end, the article defines a terminal portion 14 which is of almost uniform but very slightly diverging breadth but tapers in thickness to a broad rounded tip 16. Between the prongs 12, 13 and the terminal portion 14 and spaced from tip 16 is an intermediate portion 18 which is relatively enlarged laterally so as to be substantially broader than it is thick. Portion 18 has lateral rims 20 which define a bottom 21 in a plane for resting stably on a flat surface.

The rear part 19 of intermediate portion 18 is uplifted to merge into the prongs so that most of the prongs are elevated relative to the planar bottom 21 of the intermediate portion, so as to be clear of an underlying floor surface when the article is resting thereon. The clearance should be sufficient for the fingers of a hand to fit comfortably under the prongs for grasping and lifting the article off the floor.

The underside of article 10 is cut away between the prongs and a point about halfway along terminal portion 14 to define a longitudinal underside cavity 22 bounded laterally by the aforesaid rims 20 and divided by spaced transversely extending strengthening ribs 24. The provision of cavity 22 serves to reduce the weight of the article and the amount of material employed.

Tip 16 and most of the terminal portion 14 are upwardly concave, exhibiting a longitudinally extending depression 23 of increasing concavity towards the tip (Figures 6, 7F and 7G) . It will be appreciated from the drawings that the terminal

portion 14 of article 10 is formed in the shape of a shoehorn. The portion is slightly upwardly inclined away from intermediate portion 18 but tends to level off horizontally as it reaches tip 16. The resultant slight elevation of the tip relative to the plane of bottom 21 reduces the risk of damage to the tip 16. The region adjacent the tip is quite thin but this configuration allows the terminal portion to be used as a shoe horn which differs from conventional shoe horns in that the user may grasp it with his hand at a position quite remote from the shoe horn. In this way, a user may employ the article to facilitate putting his shoes on without having to bend right over or crouch right down to do so. It will be noted that the taper in the thickness of the article towards tip 16 is in the overall dimension in a plane normal to bottom 21: the actual thickness of the material at the longitudinal centre line may not substantially alter, because of cavity 22.

Each prong 12, 13 is of inverted L-section, having a depending flange 26 which is a continuation of a respective rim 20 and an inside flange 28 which defines the top surface of the prong (Figures 1 and 7A) . Flanges 28 taper from underneath at 28a (Figure 7A) to straight inside edges 29 which define a V-section recess 30 into which the rear of a shoe or boot may be introduced until the flanges 28 engage the shoe immediately above the sole, thereby facilitating removal of the shoe on further rearward movement of the foot. During this action, the other foot is placed firmly on the top of the intermediate portion 18 to stabilize the article on an underlying floor surface.

At the outer ends of prongs 12, 13, each

flange 26 has a depending leg 32 (Figures 3 and 4) which also contacts or almost contacts an underlying surface on which the article is resting. The bottom edge 27 of the flange 26 smoothly and gently curves into this leg to facilitate gripping of the prong by a hand of reduced strength, for example a hand affected by arthritis or Parkinson's disease.

Each flange 28 is rebated at its outer end as shown at 34. This facilitates the insertion of the leg 32 of one article into an elongate aperture 50 formed in the intermediate portion 18 of another. In this way, the article 10 may be lifted off a floor surface with the aid of another similar article. For example, after an article laid flat on the floor has been employed by a person to remove his or her shoes, the second article can be employed to lift the first off the floor without having to bend completely over or crouch right down to reach the floor to raise the article.

Each flange 28 further includes a small aperture 54 by which the article may be hung up on a hook, nail, wire or the like.

The lateral margins of intermediate portion 18 include a divergent-convergent, downwardly and outwardly inclined ramp surface 52 (Figures 7B and 7C) . This surface is important in providing gentle sliding access for a foot onto the centre top of the intermediate portion. Hence, where a person has difficulty in substantially lifting his foot off the ground, due to loss of strength or other muscle weakness in the leg, the ramp surfaces 52 assist him to slide the foot up and onto the intermediate portion 18.

Article 10 may comprise two or more mutually

hinged parts whereby the article may be folded up to a reduced size for storage.

Thus far, the described utility of the illustrated article has been confined to the putting on and removal of shoes or socks. However, other quite varied uses have been appreciated by the present applicants. Before mentioning these other uses, it should be emphasized that the particular nature of the article, especially its elongate form and the ability to use the prongs 12, 13 as handles, mean that the shoe horn application does not require the user to significantly bend over or crouch when in a seated or standing position. When seated, not even the hands are strictly required as the underside of the thigh may be rested in the V-shaped recess 30 between prongs 12, 13.

Other uses of the article include the following:

1. The shoe horn or terminal portion 1 of the article 10 may be employed to scrape and dislodge mud, vegetable matter and the like from shoes or boots. In this case, the user's hand grasps one or other prong 12, 13.

2. With the article flat on the ground in the "shoe removal" position, it may be used as a mud scraper by scraping the sole of a shoe or boot from the side while the article is held down by the other foot.

3. Quite differently, and again of great assistance to the elderly or infirm, two of the articles may be grasped at the shoe horn end and the bifurcated end used to hold and lift a bundle of

articles such as clothing, on the one hand, or garden refuse, e.g. cuttings, on the other.

4. In a similar vein, an article held by the prongs at the bifurcated end may be employed to hook and lift smaller groups or bundles of clothing, such as items to or from a washing machine.

5. Again in the garden, and to emphasize the gret versitility of the article, the tip 16 may be pushed into the ground so that the bifurcated end projects upwardly. The recess 30 may then be employed to retain a hose for directional spraying.

6. The article gripped adjacent the tip 16 may be employed to dislodge fruit from fruit trees by bringing the V-shaped recess 30 around behind the fruit and gently pulling.

The imaginative person will no doubt be able to conceive still further uses for the article of the invention. It will be apparent even from the utility described in this application that the article of the invention is potentially of great assistance to the elderly, infirm and disabled, to any one having difficult or restricted body movement, to facilitate a wide variety of manual operations.

An exemplary embodiment of the illustrated article is 520mm in length. The terminal portion 14 is 45mm wide and the intermediate portion 18 is of maximum breadth about 72mm and thickness (top to planar bottom of rims 20) about 21mm.




 
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