Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
DEVICE WITH INTEGRAL INSERT HAVING STRAP SLOT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/196380
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An insert and a device are provided. The device can include a body portion and a slot defined through the body portion. The slot can be configured for receiving a strap that can secure the device in place relative to the strap. The insert can be designed to strengthen the device by being inserted into the device and receiving the strap. The insert can include a main body portion and a projecting body portion. The projecting body portion can include a slot similarly sized to the slot of the device so that when the insert is positioned within the device, the slot of the insert and the slot of the device generally align. The projecting body of the insert can include inward flanges to define part of an upper boundary of the slot and assist in securing the strap within the slot.

More Like This:
JPH0630808帽 A child
WO2002053061EAR PROTECTION DEVICE
Inventors:
TANNAHILL, David, B. (6128 Hemlock, Merriam, KS, 66202, US)
GUERRA, Lawrence, E. (6219 West 65th Street, Mission, KS, 66202, US)
Application Number:
US2016/034855
Publication Date:
December 08, 2016
Filing Date:
May 27, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
LIMBALIGN LLC (6128 Hemlock, Merriam, KS, 66202, US)
International Classes:
A42B1/22; A42B3/14; A61F5/37; F16B2/08
Foreign References:
US4372012A1983-02-08
US20140124389A12014-05-08
US4236755A1980-12-02
US20150059064A12015-03-05
US8627554B12014-01-14
US20150074876A12015-03-19
US20110100375A12011-05-05
US20060075609A12006-04-13
US6640394B12003-11-04
US3163905A1965-01-05
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
OLEEN, Nathan, E. et al. (Husch Blackwell LLP, 4801 Main Street Suite 100, Kansas City MO, 64112, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An insert adapted to be combined with a device having a device slot configured for receiving a strap, said insert comprising:

a main body having an upper surface; and

a projecting body extending from said upper surface of said main body and defining an insert slot through said insert;

wherein said insert slot is configured for receiving said strap when said insert is combmed with said device.

2. The insert of claim 1, wherein said projecting body comprises at least two projecting walls, each projecting wall positioned on a side of said insert slot.

3. The insert of claim 2, wherein said at least two projecting walls each include an inwardly turned flange extending generally perpendicularly away from said projecting wall.

4. The insert of claim 3, wherein said inwardly turned flanges define at least a portion of an upper boundary of said insert slot.

5. The insert of claim 1, wherein said insert includes an insert outer perimeter, wherein said device includes a bottom end outer perimeter, and wherein said insert outer perimeter is smaller than said device bottom end outer perimeter.

6. The insert of claim 1, wherein said device includes an interior core having a voided region, wherein said voided region is configured for receiving said insert.

7. The insert of claim 1, wherein said insert is configured for being placed fully within said device.

8. The insert of claim 1, wherein said insert slot of said insert is generally aligned with said device slot of said device when said insert is positioned within said device.

9. The insert of claim 1, wherein said main body further includes a connecting means for securing said insert to said device.

10. The insert of claim 9, wherein said connecting means on said main body includes one or more apertures defined through said main body.

11. The insert of claim 1, wherein said insert includes an opening defined through said main body and below at least a portion of said slot.

12. The insert of claim 11, wherein said projecting body comprises:

at least two projecting walls extending upwardly from said main body and along a perimeter of said opening, said projecting walls including inwardly turned flanges;

at least two cross-bracing walls extending generally upwardly from said main body and generally perpendicular to said at least two projecting walls; and

a cover portion extending between said at least to cross-bracing walls.

13. A positioner device having an insert positioned therein and configured for receiving a strap therethrough, said device comprising:

a positioner body having an exterior shell, an inner core and a bottom end;

a positioner body slot defined through said positioner body and forming an interior channel through said inner core;

a first bottom opening defined through said bottom end of said positioner body and extending to said interior channel; and

a strap slot insert positioned at least partially within said inner core of said positioner body, said strap slot insert comprising:

a main body having an upper surface and a main body aperture extending therethrough; a projecting body extending from said upper surface and at least partially over said main body aperture; and

an insert slot defined through at least one of said projecting body and said main body, said insert slot extending generally perpendicular to and over said main body aperture;

wherein said insert slot is generally aligned with said interior channel of said positioner body slot.

14. The positioner device of claim 13, wherein said strap slot insert is positioned entirely within said exterior shell of said positioner body.

15. The positioner device of claim 13, wherein said projecting body of said strap slot insert comprises at least two projecting walls extending away from said main body adjacent to an edge of said main body aperture, wherein at least one of said projecting walls includes an inwardly turned flange.

16. The positioner device of claim 13, wherein said strap slot insert has one or more connecting apertures defined through said main body, said connecting apertures configured for receiving therethrough a portion of said inner core of said positioner body.

17. The positioner device of claim 13, wherein said interior channel includes an upper channel boundary and a lower channel boundary, wherein said lower channel boundary is interrupted by said first bottom opening.

18. The positioner device of claim 17 further comprising a second bottom opening extending through said bottom end and extending to said interior channel, said first and said second bottom openings forming a strap weaving section therebetween.

19. The positioner device of claim 17, wherein said upper channel boundary includes a channel bulge having rounded sides and extending toward said lower channel boundary.

20. The positioner device of claim 17, wherein said upper channel boundary includes a channel bulge having angled sides and extending toward said lower channel boundary.

21. The positioner device of claim 20, wherein said channel bulge extends at least partially into said first bottom opening to create a narrowed gap region between each angled side of said channel bulge and an edge of said first bottom opening.

Description:
DEVICE WITH INTEGRAL INSERT HAVING STRAP SLOT

BACKGROUND ART It is often desirable to locate, position, and/or hold objects or devices in selectively adjustable positions through the use of straps and the like. Such devices commonly have some type of opening or connecting means through which a strap or similar retention mechanism is inserted in order to retain the device on the strap. However, devices constructed of materials, such as foam or rubber for example, often lack the structural characteristics, such as durability and strength, necessary for withstanding the forces that may be generated by the strap or restraining mechanism. To this end, when a force is exerted on an object, the site at which the device engages with or receives the strap may be subjected to tearing, failure or undesirable deflection, particularly when that site has a reduced material thickness.

For example, U.S. Patent No. 8,667,969 to David Tannahill et al. entitled "Positioner Device" (the "'969 patent"), which is incorporated herein by reference, discloses a device that is designed to be positioned by use of a strap or the like. In one embodiment, the device is constructed of a molded foam material and has a slot defined therein for receiving a strap. When a significant amount of force is exerted on the device, it is conceivable that portions of the device adjacent the slot having a reduced material thickness could tear or fail, particularly in embodiments where the device is constructed of a foam material. Other devices configured for use with a strap or similar retaining means similarly face limitations with wear and tear due to the forces and stresses applied to the device by the strap.

Accordingly, a need exists for a device that can be constructed of a foam material, a supple material or other material that might not have the durability or strength characteristics that are desirable for withstanding substantial and/or repeated forces that may be exerted at the connection between the device and a strap or the like. A need also exists for an insert that may be combined with such a device for enhancing the durability and strength of the device at the location where the device and strap are engaged with one another. Finally, a need exists for devices and universal inserts that may be combined therewith that permit various slot configurations to be formed in different devices, thereby resulting in such devices having varying and different resistances relative to a strap or the like that may pass therethrough so that varying amounts of forces are required to move different devices along a path of a strap or the like.

DISCLOSURE OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to an integral strap slot insert for a device, such as a positioner device, which can be used in conjunction with a strap or similar retaining means. The strap slot insert can be configured for use with the device in order to reinforce, strengthen and stabilize the device when it is being used with a strap. The insert can be an integral component of device, can be removably inserted into the device or otherwise connected to the device. In order to reinforce the device, the insert can be constructed from a material having strength and/or rigidity characteristics greater than the device.

The insert can include a main body, a projecting body and a slot defined through one or both of the bodies. The slot can correspond to a slot defined in the device so that when the insert is received within the device, the insert slot and the device slot are generally aligned. As a result, when a strap used to hold the device is inserted through the slot of the device, it may also be inserted through the slot of the insert, which can better withstand the stresses and forces applied by the strap to the device.

According to one embodiment, the insert includes one or more apertures or openings defined either partially or completely through the main body and the projecting body. These apertures and openings can be used to secure the insert and the device together. When the device is being constructed, for example through a foam molding process, the insert can be placed within the mold prior to the foam setting in order to allow the device material to penetrate and/or form around the apertures and openings. As a result, the device and insert can essentially become a single integrated structure. Alternatively, fasteners and similar connecting means can be used in connection with the apertures in order to secure the insert to the device.

The projecting body of the insert can be constructed from one or more projecting walls and support walls. According to one embodiment, the projecting body includes two projecting walls extending upward and generally parallel to one another in order to define the slot that extends through the insert. The projecting walls can each include inward-turned flanges that can partially define an upper boundary of the slot. The projecting body can further include support walls also extending upward and generally parallel to one another. However, the support walls can extend lengthwise in a direction generally perpendicular to projecting walls in order to act as supports or braces for the projecting body.

The device can include several different shapes or structures in order to increase, decrease or otherwise adjust the friction created between the device and the strap. According to one embodiment, the bottom end of the device, adjacent to the slot, can include two openings spaced apart by a weaving section or cross-bar. In such an embodiment, the strap can be inserted into the device slot, out one of the openings, around the weaving section, into the other opening and then continue through the device slot before exiting the device. According to another embodiment, the device bottom end can include a bulge region projecting from the upper end of the slot inside the device. In such an embodiment, the strap is forced to conform to the bulging region inside the slot which can increase the frictional forces between the strap and the device. In yet another embodiment, the bottom end of the device can include an angled bulge region projecting from the upper end of the slot inside the device. The angled bulge can have angled (as opposed to rounded) edges. The bottom end of the device can also have an opening defined therein with sides that correspond to the edges of the angled bulge in order to create narrowed gaps through which the strap passes. In such an embodiment, the strap is inserted into the slot of the device, around the angled edges of the bulge and through the narrowed gaps and then out the other end of the device. Sharper angles and narrowed gaps can increase the frictional resistance of the strap and the device.

Other aspect and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments and the accompanying figures.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING

In the accompanying drawing, which forms a part of the specification and is to be read in conjunction therewith in which like reference numerals are used to indicate like or similar parts in the various views:

Fig. 1 is a partially exploded perspective view of a positioner device, strap and an insert configured for use with the positioner device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 2 is a top perspective view of an insert configured for use with a positioner device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 2A is an enlarged top perspective view of a portion of the insert of Fig. 2; Fig. 3 is a top plan view of the insert of Fig. 2;

Fig. 4 is a sectional end view of the insert of Fig. 3 taken generally about line 4-4 in the direction of the arrows;

Fig. 5 is a side view of the insert of Fig. 2;

Fig. 6 is a side perspective view of a positioner device and strap in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 7 is a bottom view of a positioner device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 8 is a sectional side view of the positioner device of Fig. 6 taken generally about line

8-8 in the direction of the arrows;

Fig. 9 is a plan view of an insert overlaid with a positioner device in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 10 is a bottom view of a positioner body and strap according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 11 is a schematic sectional side view of the positioner device of Fig. 10, illustrating an insert positioned within the positioner device;

Fig. 12 is a bottom view of a positioner body and strap in accordance with another embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 13 is a schematic sectional side view of the positioner device of Fig. 12, illustrating an insert positioned within the positioner device;

Fig. 14 is a schematic side view of the positioner device of Fig. 12, illustrating an insert positioned within the positioner device and the strap threaded through the positioner device and insert;

Fig. 15 is a schematic sectional side view of a positioner device and insert in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 16 is a schematic sectional side view of a positioner device and insert in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 17 is a schematic side view of a positioner device and insert illustrating a strap threaded through the positioner device and insert in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention; Fig. 18 is a bottom view of a positioner device and strap in accordance with yet another embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 19 is a schematic sectional side view of the positioner device of Fig. 18, illustrating an insert positioned within the positioner device;

Fig. 20 is a schematic side view of the positioner device in accordance with a further embodiment of the present invention, illustrating an insert positioner within the positioner device and the strap threaded through the positioner device and insert;

Fig. 21 is a perspective view of a positioner device configured to receive multiple straps in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 22 is a perspective view of an insert configured for use with the positioner device of

Fig. 22;

Fig. 23 is an exploded perspective view of a positioner device and an insert configured for use with a tube in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 24 is an exploded perspective view of a positioner device configured for use with a strap in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention; and

Fig. 25 is an exploded perspective view of a positioner device configured for use with a y-shaped strap in accordance with an additional embodiment of the present invention.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

The invention will now be described with reference to the drawing figures, in which like reference numerals refer to like parts throughout. For purposes of clarity in illustrating the characteristics of the present invention, proportional relationships of the elements have not necessarily been maintained in the drawing figures. It will be appreciated that terms such as "top," "bottom," "upper," "lower," "above," "below," "left," "right," "side," "end," "front" and "back," used herein are merely for ease of description and refer to the orientation of the components as shown in the figures. It should be understood that any orientation of the present invention, and the components thereof described herein, is within the scope of the present invention.

The following detailed description of the invention references specific embodiments in which the invention can be practiced. The embodiments are intended to describe aspects of the invention in sufficient detail to enable those skilled in the art to practice the invention. Other embodiments can be utilized and changes can be made without departing from the scope of the present invention. The present invention is defined by the appended claims and the description is, therefore, not to be taken in a limiting sense and shall not limit the scope of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

Referring to the figures, one aspect of the present invention is directed generally to an insert 10 that can be used with a device 100 in order to secure device 100 to a strap 200. Depending on the particular embodiment of the present invention, insert 10 can be constructed as an integral component of device 100, constructed to be selectively removable from device 100, or constructed as a permanently positioned component on or within device 100. As further described herein, insert 10 can function as a reinforcing component for device 100 by providing enhanced structure, durability and stability to device 100. In particular, insert 10 can provide enhanced structure adjacent a slot 102 formed through device 100 that is configured for receiving strap 200 or other securing or retention means.

Insert 10 can be configured for use with various devices 100 having any number of different shapes and sizes and intended applications. According to one embodiment, device 100 is constructed from a foam-based, plastic-based or rubber-based material having semi-flexible properties. Due to the instability of these types of materials, device 100 can be subject to extensive wear and tear, deformation and failure, especially when subject to forces applied by the retention of strap 200 as described in greater detail below. Insert 10 can serve to extend the functional life of device 100 and impede or prevent failure of device 100 during use with strap 200. Device 100 is described herein with reference to a positioner device suited for use in limb stabilization, physical therapy applications and other applications now known or hereafter developed. However, such description is not intended to be limiting and device 100 can take any number of different suitable forms, shapes and configurations in which insert 10 may be used.

Both device 100 and insert 10 can be configured for use in connection with strap 200, for example. Strap 200 can be configured as a conventional strap as illustrated in the figures; however, such description is not intended to be limiting and strap 200 can be configured as any general band, belt, rope, cord, cable, leash, wire, tube, line, bar, rod, shaft or other suitable object generally similar to a strap or the like. Similarly, insert 10 and device 100 can be configured and adapted for any particular configuration and use of strap 200 depending on the particular embodiment of the present invention. Turning now to Figs. 2-5, insert 10 can comprise a main body portion 12 having a projecting body 14 extending therefrom and defining a slot 16. Main body portion 12 can have any suitable shape and can include a surrounding sidewall 18 and an upper surface 20. Main body portion 12 can also include one or more apertures 22 defined therethrough in certain embodiments of the present invention as shown in Fig. 2. As described in greater detail below, aperture 22 can be used to facilitate the use of insert 10 in connection with device 100 and strap 200. Projecting body 14 can extend away from upper surface 20 and can be configured as any structure, wall, extension, projection, plurality of walls, frame or other shape suitable for defining or forming slot 16 as best shown in Figs. 1 and 2. Projecting body 14 can further be integral to main body portion 12 or secured or otherwise connected to main body portion 12 depending on the particular embodiment of the present invention. Insert 10 can be constructed from a plastic or polymer material, rubber material, metallic material, wood material or other material now known or hereafter developed having desirable structural characteristics. For example, according to one embodiment, insert 10 can be formed of an injected molded acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic material.

Slot 16 can be configured as any suitable slot, slit, hole, orifice, aperture, channel, conduit, passageway, duct, gap, path or other opening or void sized and shaped to receive strap 200 or the like when insert 10 is used in connection with device 100. As shown in Fig. 4, slot 16 can extend through projecting body 14 (or otherwise be defined by the shape of projecting body 14) in a generally horizontal direction or otherwise approximately along the plane defined by upper surface 10 of main body 12. Slot 16 can also be generally aligned with and run approximately perpendicular to aperture 22 of main body. It is further recognized that insert 10 can include more than one slot 16 in different locations, orientations and angles in order to permit device 100 to be optionally located or secured in various positions and/or orientations.

According to one embodiment of the present invention, projecting body 14 can be formed by two projecting walls 24 extending generally parallel to one another and perpendicularly away from upper surface 20 of main body 12 as best shown in Figs. 2 and 4. As best shown in Fig. 2 A, each projecting wall 24 can include an inward turned flange 26 that can collectively form part of an upper bound 28 of slot 16 as described in greater detail below. Inward turned flanges 26 can extend generally horizontally away from the upper end of projecting walls 24 opposite the end lower end connected to main body 12. In alternative embodiments, flanges 26 can also have various angled configurations. Projecting body 14 can also include one or more cross-projecting walls 30 extending upward from main body 12 and/or projecting walls 24 and generally perpendicular to projecting walls 24 as best shown in Fig. 2. As also shown in Fig. 2, projecting body 14 can further include additional structure or bracing 32 extending between projecting walls 24 and 30 and a cover portion 34 for added structural durability of insert 10 in certain embodiments of the present invention. Cover portion 34 can form the remaining part of upper bound 28 in connection with inward turned flanges 26. Depending on the particular embodiment of the present invention, projecting body 14 can be essentially a fully or partially enclosed structure, or a projecting body 14 can have one or more gaps, openings or apertures 36 as shown in Figs. 2-4. In addition, while the figures illustrate projecting body 14 as comprising multiple individual components, it is understood that projecting body 14 and its components can be constructed as a unitary or integral structure.

As best shown in Fig. 3, insert 10 can include a left side 38, right side 40, front side 42 and back side 44. Slot 16 is shown as extending through projecting body 14 from left side 38 to right side 40 of insert 10; however slot 16 can just as suitably extend through projecting body 14 from front side 42 to back side 44 in other embodiments. Figs. 2 and 3 also show the positioning of aperture 22 in relation to slot 16 according to one embodiment of the present invention. As shown, projecting walls 24 (or other portion of projecting body 14) can extend upward from upper surface 20 of main body 12 along the exterior of aperture 22 in order to define slot 16 generally above aperture 22.

In order to facilitate connection of insert 10 to device 100, insert 10 can include one or more apertures 46 defined through main body 12 and/or projecting body 14 as best shown in Figs. 2 and 3. Such apertures 46 can allow portions of device 100 to extend through insert 10 and thereby encapsulate at least a portion of insert 10. This can be particularly advantageous in achieving mechanical integration of device 100 with insert 10 in embodiments where device 100 is fabricated from a material, such as a foam-based material, that does not bond well the material(s) used to construct insert 10, such as a plastic or poly-based material. Alternatively or additionally, apertures 46 can be configured for receiving fasteners or other connecting means such as a screw, pin, rivet, dowel, bolt, lug, or other connecting mechanism (not shown) therethrough in order to attach insert 10 to device 100. Insert 10 can further optionally include an additional aperture 47 defined in cover portion 34 that can be used in conjunction with an opening defined through an upper portion and/or a lower portion of device 100 in order to allow device 100 to be used with various accessories (not shown) such as a support frame or other accessories or devices that may be at least partially inserted therein. Aperture 47 defined in cover portion 34 may take on any suitable shape or size such that it is adaptable to receive and mechanically connect with various accessories and devices.

It will be appreciated by those skilled in the art that other embodiments of the insert 10 can have structure substantially different from that described above and illustrated in the figures. For example, in one embodiment, insert 10 can be a generally solid piece of material where projecting body 14 is integral with main body 12 and slot 16 is defined through one or both bodies 12 and 14. In other embodiments, insert 10 can be constructed from multiple pieces or individual components that make up main body 12 and projecting body 14 and that can be optionally combined together or otherwise positioned relative to one another and/or device 100 in order to define slot 16 or other opening having enhanced structural characteristics adjacent thereto.

As set forth above, insert 10 and device 100 can be connected and/or integrated in any number of suitable fashions. As previously described, insert 10 can include a one or more gaps, openings, voids, holes or apertures 36 and 46, defined either partially or fully therethrough into which the materials forming device 100 may penetrate or extend therethrough in order to mechanically combine insert 10 and device 100. In addition to apertures 36 and 46, or in the alternative, main body 12 and/or projecting body 14 of insert 10 can be configured with a shape that includes one or more extensions, protrusions, projections, protuberances, ribs, lips, flanges, bulges or other structure around which the material of device 100 may partially or fully surround, encompass or encapsulate. In one method of production, as further described below, the material forming at least a portion of device 100 is molded around insert 10. In such an embodiment, the material forming device 100 can be brought to a semisolid or molten state during the molding process such that that material can flow around portions of insert 10 and then set or solidify into a generally solid state upon surrounding or encapsulating at least a portion of insert 10.

Other means and methods of attaching, integrating, connecting or combining insert 10 and device 100, such as fasteners, adhesives and the like, whether now known or hereafter developed, are also within the scope of the present invention. It will also be appreciated that insert 10 can be configured to be permanently combined with device 100 or removably combined with device 100, depending on the particular embodiment of the present invention. Additionally, insert 10 can be configured as a universal insert 10 that is suited for connection and use with many different-styled devices 100, each possibly having a differently sized and configured slot 102. This can result in devices 100 having varying different resistances relative to strap 200 or the like that may pass therethrough so that varying amounts of force is required to move each device 100 along a path of strap 200 or the like.

As will be discussed in further detail below, insert 10 can be designed to provide enhanced structural characteristics to device 100, particularly to locations adjacent to device slot 102 defined through device 100, or other openings defined in the device 100. This can be particularly beneficial when device 100 is constructed of a material (e.g., a molded self-skinning urethane foam material, a polyurethane foam material or a foamed rubber material) that may lack the strength, rigidity and long-term durability necessary to withstand the forces transmitted through the structure surrounding device slot 102.

Figs. 6 and 7 illustrate device 100 with slot 102 and designed for use with a strap 200 according to one embodiment of the present invention. Device 100 can take on any suitable or desired shape or form and it should be understood that device 100 as shown in Figs. 6 and 7 is generally intended for exemplary and descriptive purposes only. According to one embodiment, device 100 can have an external shape similar in nature to the medical and/or therapy device shown and described in U.S. Patent No. 8,667,969 to David Tannahill et al. entitled "Positioner Device," and which is incorporated herein by reference.

As shown in Figs. 6 and 7, device 100 can include a body 104 with an inner core 106 and an exterior surface 108 defined by a left side 110, right side 112, front side 114 and back side 116 of body 104. Slot 102 can extend generally horizontally through body 104 from its left side 110 to its right side 112; however it is recognized that slot 102 can extend from front to back sides 114 and 116, respectively, or with other angles and/or orientations in alternative embodiments. Device 100 can further include a top end 118 and bottom end 120 as shown Fig. 6.

Turning to Figs. 8 and 9, device 100 can include voided region 122 defined into its inner core 106 and configured or adapted to be formed around or to receive insert 10. According to one embodiment, device 100 (including inner core 106 and voided region 122) and insert 10 are designed and configured so that insert 10 can be positioned entirely within the perimeter of bottom end 120 of device 100. In such an embodiment, insert 10 can be entirely contained within or encapsulated by device body 104.

As shown in Fig. 8, slot 102 of device 100 can be positioned at a height of device body 104 so that slot 16 of insert 10 can be at least partially aligned with slot 102 when insert 10 is positioned within device 100. Device 100 can also optionally include two or more slots 102 defined in or through device body 104 in different locations, orientations and angles in order to permit device 100 to be located or secured in various positions or orientations in certain embodiments of the present invention. For example, according to one embodiment, device 100 can include one slot 102 that extends from front side 114 to back side 116 at one region of device 100 and another slot 102 that extends from left side 110 to right side 114 at another region of device 100. In other alternative embodiments, slot or slots 102 can terminate in inner core 106 of device 100 so that slot or slots 102 extend only partially through device 100. Slot 102 can define a channel 124 through inner core 106 of device 100 that can include an upper slot or channel boundary 126 and a lower slot or channel boundary 128 as best shown in Fig. 8. Channel 124 can approximately correspond to voided region 122 in order to allow strap 200 to be inserted through slot 102 of device 100 and through slot 16 of insert 10 when insert 10 is inserted into voided region 122.

Figs. 10-20 illustrate various embodiments of device 100 with insert 10 positioned within voided region 122. As shown in the figures, according to one embodiment, device 100 can include one or more openings 130 defined into and/or through bottom end 120 of device 100. Openings 130 can extend through bottom end 130 and so as to adjoin or intersect channel 124 and voided region 122. When openings 130 extend to channel 124, they can act to interrupt the channel lower boundary 128 as best shown in Figs. 8, 11 and 13. Openings 130 can have any suitable size and shape and can be configured to allow strap 200 to pass therethrough and/or assist a user in positioning strap 200 through slot 102 of device 100 and slot 16 of insert 10. In addition, opening or openings 130 can generally align or correspond to aperture 22 of insert 10 in order to facilitate the threading of strap 200 through slots 16 and 102 and/or opening or openings 130. Device 100 can also include a strap weaving section 132 defined in or on bottom end 120 and positioned beneath or adjacent to slot 102. As shown, weaving section 132 can be defined by and between openings 130 and extend upward toward voided region 122. Strap weaving section 132 can allow strap 200 to be routed in a number of different orientations or paths. According to one configuration, strap 200 can be routed directly through slot 102 of device 100 (and correspondingly, slot 16 of insert 10) such that strap 200 enters at one end or side of device 100 and exits the opposing end or side of device 100. In this configuration, device 100 can be configured so that only a relatively small amount of friction is generated via the interaction between device 100 and strap 200, which can be desirable in cases where easy adjustment is preferred or where only a small amount of force to move device 100 relative to strap 200 is desired.

In another configuration, strap 200 can be routed around weaving section 132 in order to increase the frictional resistance (and therefore the force required to move device 100 relative to strap 200). In this configuration, strap 200 can be inserted into slot 102 of device 100, into slot 16 of insert 10, through aperture 22 of insert 10, out a first opening 130 of device bottom end 120, around weaving section 132, into an adjacent second opening 130 and back through aperture 22 and slots 16 and 102, and finally out opposing end of device 100.

Figs. 12-14 illustrate device 100 according to another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, device 100 can include a channel bulge 134 extending from and defining the channel upper boundary 126 of slot 102. Channel bulge 134 can project downwardly into channel 124 of slot 102 and have rounded sides 136 to provide channel upper boundary 126 with a generally rounded contoured shape. Channel bulge 134 can also have a more rigid configuration with greater defined edges in certain alternative embodiments, as described in greater detail below. Channel bulge 134 further can extend partially into opening 130 defined through bottom end 120 in certain embodiments.

Channel lower boundary 128 can also include oppositely rounded configurations as best shown in Figs. 13 and 14. The size, shape and contour of channel bulge 134, along with channel upper and lower boundaries 126 and 128 respectively, can be configured to create a specific path for slot 102 through device 100, thereby allowing for a desired amount of friction generated between strap 200 and device 100/insert 10. Generally speaking, the more rounded and contoured the shape of the channel bulge 134 is, along with channel upper and lower boundaries 126 and 128 respectively, the lower the force required to move device 100 relative to strap 200. The sharper the edges defined in channel upper and lower boundaries 126 and 128 are respectively, the greater the force required to overcome the friction generated between strap 200 and device 100. According to this second embodiment, device 100 can also include an opening 130 defined in bottom end 120 and beneath channel bulge 134 in order to reveal the shape of bulge 134 and assist a user in threading strap 200 through slot 102 of device 100.

Figs. 15 and 17 illustrate device 100 according to another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, channel bulge 134 has angled (rather than rounded) sides 138 and can include a flattened lower end 139. Similar to the embodiment described above, channel bulge 134 can extend from channel upper boundary 126 toward channel lower boundary 128 into opening 130 defined beneath channel bulge 134. As best shown in Fig. 15, the edges of opening 130 can be sized and configured so that channel bulge 134 and channel lower boundary 128 create narrowed gaps or passageways or "pinch points" 140. The angled sides 138 and sharper edges (as opposed to rounded sides and softer edges) of this embodiment can provide increased frictional resistance between strap 200 and device 100 when strap 200 is inserted through slot 102, thereby creating a greater force requirement to cause device 100 to move relative to strap 200.

It will be appreciated that in one embodiment, channel bulge 134 may be of such a configuration that it can be optionally detached, reconfigured, removed, or replaced with a different channel bulge 134 of a different size, shape or contour. This permits a single device 100 to be adapted for various uses and the force required to move the device 100 relative to strap 200 to be changed.

Figs. 18-20 illustrate another embodiment of the present invention where slot 102 and corresponding channel 124 are generally linear to allow for unobstructed alignment with slot 16 of insert 10 when insert 10 is fully inserted into device 100. In addition, bottom end 120 of device 100 can include a larger single opening 130 that allows a user to access the interior slot 102 and thread strap 200 therethrough. Strap 200 can be positioned through device 100 so that the frictional forces applied can be created merely by an interference fit of strap 200 in slot 102. Such an embodiment can be advantageously used where device 100 is intended to frequently and/or easily travel along the length of strap 200 without significant resistance.

Figs. 21-22 illustrate another embodiment of the present invention where insert 10 and device 100 each include multiple slots 16 and 102, respectively. As shown, this embodiment of the present invention can incorporate an insert 10 having multiple slot 16 configurations, each designed in a manner similar to that described previously, and device 100 can be configured to accommodate insert 10 by also incorporating any of the configurations described previously. As shown in Fig. 21, device 100 can have an elongated body portion 104 with one or more slots 102 defined through exterior surface 108 of device 100. Fig. 21 illustrates device 100 with two slots 102; however, it is recognized that body portion 104 can include additional slots 102 depending on the desired configuration. Each slot 102 can extend from and through the front and back sides 114 and 116, respectively, the left and right sides 110 and 112, respectively, or the top and bottom ends 118 and 120, respectively. In other words, it will be appreciated that slots 102 may extend through the X, Y and Z planes of the device 100. However, it will be noted that the paths of the slots 102 are not limited to such planes and that the paths of one or more of the slots 102 may be angled in a different plane or may be curvilinear thereby traveling through multiple planes. In the configuration illustrated in Fig. 21, one strap 200 can extend transversely through device 100 via first slot 102 defined through front and back sides 114 and 116 and another strap 200 can extend longitudinally through device 100 via the second slot 102 defined through left and right sides 110 and 112. The two straps 200 can extend through device 100 at the same time or only one strap 200 can be used. In order to enable the use of multiple straps 200 with device 100, slots 102 can be positioned at different heights within any given direction or plane. For example, as shown in Fig. 21, the first slot 102 extending transversely through device 100 can have a height lower than a height of the second slot 102 extending longitudinally through device 100. Alternative configurations can also be used. In addition, device 100 can include multiple bottom openings 120 that correspond to each slot 16 configuration defined into insert 10 as described below.

Turning to Fig. 22, insert 10 of this particular embodiment can include multiple projecting bodies 14 surrounded by a main body 12. Projecting bodies 14 need not actually "project" away from main body portion 12 (as shown in Fig. 22 by the center projecting body 14), but rather can merely define the region where slot 16 is located. As such, each projecting body 14 may or may not have a surrounding sidewall 18 depending on whether upper surface 20 is even with main body portion 12. Each projecting body 14 component can also be configured in a manner similar to as described above. For example, each projecting body 14 can include main body aperture 22 below slot 16 and one or more apertures 46. Each projecting body 14 can have projecting walls 24 extending away from upper surface 20 to further define the boundaries of slot 16. As shown in Fig. 22, according to one embodiment, a first one of the projecting body 14 components can have a slot 16 orientated in a generally transverse direction relative to insert 10 and configured for receiving a first strap 200. The other two of the projecting body 14 components can have slots 16 orientated in a generally longitudinal direction and configured for receiving the same second strap 200. When in use, insert 10 and device 100 can have one strap 200 inserted through the device 100 / insert 10 combination or can have two or more straps 200 inserted through the device 100 / insert 10 combination. In order to facilitate the two overlapping straps 200, either the first of the projecting body 14 components or the other two of the projecting body 14 components can have a slightly elevated position relative the other, as described with the slots 102 above. In the configuration illustrated in Fig. 22, the two longitudinally orientated projecting body 14 components can have a height (due to the elevated upper surface 20) greater than a height of the transversely orientated projecting body 14 component. These heights can correspond to the heights of slots 102 discussed above.

Fig. 23 illustrates another embodiment of the present invention where insert 10 and device 100 are configured for use with a strap 200 or the like configured as a tube, bar, framed member or a similar structure. Such an embodiment can be used in circumstances where positioner device 100 is desired to be secured to a railing, wheelchair frame, chair frame or other similar structure. As shown in Fig. 23, insert 10 can be configured with an arcuate main body portion 12 and a similarly arcuate projecting body 14 extending from main body portion 12. Slot 16 can extend underneath and/or through projecting body 14 and main body portion 12 due to their arcuate structure. As a result of this configuration, slot 16 need not necessarily be constructed as an opening having defined boundaries and extending through main body portion 12. Accordingly, main body portion 12 need not include an aperture 22, but may in alternative configurations. Rather, slot 16 can be defined with an upper boundary generally conforming to the arcuate structure of main body portion 12 and projecting body 14. Insert 10 can additionally have one or more apertures 46 and gaps 36 as described in previous embodiments in order to enable better securement of insert 10 to device 100.

Device 100 according to this embodiment can include a device slot 102 having a generally arcuate configuration in order to accommodate tube 200 as illustrated in Fig. 23. Device 10 can include a top end 118 having a generally dome-shaped structure; however it is recognized that any other desirable shape can also be used for top end 118. Bottom end 120 of device 100 can similarly be configured with a generally arcuate structure and can include a receiving structure 48 having rounded ridges 50 for accommodating the shape of tube 200. Receiving structure 48 can be constructed from a flexible or semi-flexible material in order to conform to multiple sizes and shapes of tube 200.

Figs. 24 and 25 illustrate additional embodiments of the present invention. The embodiment shown in Fig. 24 can include an insert 300 that can be generally rectangular shaped and configured for insertion into the lower end of a rectangular positioner device 400. It is also recognized that while Figs. 24 and 25 illustrate insert 300 and device 400 as having a generally rectangular or square shape, insert 300 and device 400 can just as suitably be configured to any number of other shapes. Insert 300 can include a main body portion 302 configured to fit within device 400 and can include a slot 304 defined at least partially into or through main body portion 302. As shown, slot 304 does not need to be defined completely through main body portion 302, but rather can be configured as partial indentations into the upper surface of main body portion 302. Main body portion 302 can have an opening or aperture 308 defined through an interior region thereof, which can be used to assist in inserting strap 200 through slot 304. Insert 300 can also include a projecting body 306 along one or more sides of main body portion 302. Device 100 can include a main body portion 402 having a downwardly depending sidewall 404 and an upwardly projecting extension 406 along one or more sides of main body portion 402. Upwardly projecting extension 406 can be positioned along any side of device 100 or on multiple sides or anywhere else on main body 402 depending on the desired configuration. Extending through downwardly depending sidewall 404 can be a device slot 410 formed by two or more openings 408. Device slot 410 (and openings 408) can correspond to and generally align with slot 304 of insert 300 when insert 300 is inserted into device 400 in order to receive strap 200 as illustrated in Fig. 24. Device 400 need not include an enclosed bottom end as previously described and can instead include an open bottom configuration to facilitate inserting or threading strap 200 through device 400 when insert 300 is inserted therein.

Fig. 25 shows a variation of the insert 300 and device 400 illustrated in Fig. 24. In this embodiment, insert 300 and device 400 are configured for receiving a y-shaped strap 200. Such a y-shaped strap 200 can be advantageous for securing positioner device 400 to a footrest, and in particular, a footrest of a wheelchair, which may be of a variety of shapes and sizes. Insert 300 according to this embodiment can include y-shaped slot 304 defined partially into main body portion 302. In addition, slot 304 can extend through projecting body 306 as shown in Fig. 25. As shown in Fig. 25, slot 304 can be defined generally diagonally through one end of main body portion 302 in order to accommodate the shape of y-shaped strap 200; however, it is recognized that slot 304 can also be configured to accommodate any other suitable shape of strap 200 in other configurations. For example, the sidewalls of slot 304 need not be parallel with one other and may converge on, or diverge from, one another. To that end, the central section extending upwardly between the two converging slots 304 in Fig. 25 need not be present and, in fact, those two slots 304 could be replaced with one wide slot (not shown). Slot 410 of device 400 can extend through sidewall 404 in a direction similar to slot 304 of insert 300 and can be defined by openings 408 positioned at each end of device body portion 402. Similar to as described above, openings 408 and slot 410 of device 400 can correspond to and generally align with slot 304 of insert 300 when insert 300 is inserted into device 400. Thus, in one embodiment, the two slots 410 shown in Fig. 25 could be replaced with a single, wider slot (not shown).

Device 100 and insert 10 can be manufactured according to any number of different methods. As set forth above, according to one method device 100 can be manufactured in a foam injection molding process. Before the mold is closed (e.g., two halves of the mold brought together), insert 10 can be placed within the open mold cavity. The mold is then closed and material forming the body 104 of device 100 is injected or otherwise directed into the closed mold cavity. The material injected into the mold is of a consistency permitting it to flow around insert 10 and through any holes or apertures 46 or gaps 36 defined therein, thereby encapsulating at least a portion of insert 10 within device 100. The mold can include a removable bar or rod in order to form a void resulting in slot 102 (including channel 124) through the device 100.

According to another method, device 100 can be formed from two portions separated by a parting line positioned along the height of device 100. A lower portion of device 100 can be formed in one half of the mold and an upper portion of device 100 can be formed in the other half of the mold. The parting line can be placed along the upper channel boundary 126 of slot 102 according to one embodiment; however, the parting line marking the separation of device 100 can be positioned anywhere along the height of device 100. In addition, it will be appreciated that the mold forming device 100 can be configured differently so that the parting line(s) is oriented differently (e.g., vertical orientation or angled orientation) and/or located in a different area of the device 100.

While the figures illustrate devices such as those adapted for use as medical or limb positioner devices or therapy devices, it will be appreciated that the present invention is also suitable for use in connection with a broad range of devices taking a variety of forms and shapes, and having a variety of uses. For example, it is easily understood that the present invention may be implemented in connection with, for example, cargo and shipping systems, load and freight positioning systems, tie down and securement systems, luggage, backpacks, cases, containers, furniture, portable stadium seats and cushions, clothing, medical equipment, exercise equipment, athletic equipment, recreational equipment, harnesses, pet and veterinarian equipment, equestrian equipment, outdoor and hunting equipment, fishing equipment, fishing lures and attractants, duck decoys, floatation devices, artificial fishing environments, manufacturing equipment and machinery, military and tactical equipment, boating and marine equipment, automotive vehicles, along with other suitable devices and equipment now known or hereafter developed. For example, in one application, the present invention may be implemented for receiving a bar or rod at least partially therethrough (such as illustrated in Fig. 23) and, in such an application, the bar or rod may optionally include a spring loaded ball or button that may be used to secure the body 104 of a device 100 to an object such as an arm rest of an office chair. Such an application would speed the assembly process, as current methods typically involve the encapsulation of a flat metal plate adapted for attachment to the chair with bolts or other fasteners. This application may also be adapted for use in connection with items such as dashboards, booth and chair seat cushions and backs, and door stop bumpers, to name just a few.

As set forth above, in each of these applications, it will be appreciated that slot 16 of insert 10 can be any suitable slot, slit, hole, orifice, aperture, channel, conduit, passageway, duct, gap, path or other opening or void sized and shaped to receive a strap, band, belt, rope, cord, cable, leash, wire, tube, line, bar, rod, shaft or other suitable elongate object partially or fully therethrough. It will further be understood that insert 10 can include two or more slots 16 in different locations, orientations and angles in order to permit the devices or equipment to be optionally located or secured in various positions or orientations.

From the foregoing, it will be seen that this invention is one well adapted to attain all the ends and objects hereinabove set forth together with other advantages which are obvious and which are inherent to the structure. It will be understood that certain features and sub combinations are of utility and may be employed without reference to other features and sub combinations. This is contemplated by and is within the scope of the claims. Since many possible embodiments of the invention may be made without departing from the scope thereof, it is also to be understood that all matters herein set forth or shown in the accompanying drawings are to be interpreted as illustrative and not limiting.

The constructions described above and illustrated in the drawings are presented by way of example only and are not intended to limit the concepts and principles of the present invention. Thus, there has been shown and described several embodiments of a novel invention. As is evident from the foregoing description, certain aspects of the present invention are not limited by the particular details of the examples illustrated herein, and it is therefore contemplated that other modifications and applications, or equivalents thereof, will occur to those skilled in the art. The terms "having" and "including" and similar terms as used in the foregoing specification are used in the sense of "optional" or "may include" and not as "required." Many changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications of the present construction will, however, become apparent to those skilled in the art after considering the specification and the accompanying drawings. All such changes, modifications, variations and other uses and applications which do not depart from the spirit and scope of the invention are deemed to be covered by the invention which is limited only by the claims which follow.