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Title:
FOOT ELEVATION SYSTEM FOR TOILET
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2003/016642
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
This invention is a stool (10) designed to sit in front of and wrap slightly around the front base of a toilet to elevate the feet of a sitting toilet user about nine inches (six to twelve, depending on the height and physiology of the user) above the normal position of the foot to decrease the angle between the user's upper legs and the user's torso and thereby to allow more effective use of the toilet for bowel movements. The device may have adjustable legs (17). The device may have a system for keeping the device from moving away from the toilet and, more specifically, the device may have an optional strap (13) which passes around the back of the toilet to keep the device from being moved away from the toilet. Alternatively, the device legs may have friction enhancing feet.

Inventors:
Connors, Joan E. (448 West Main Street Shrewsbury, MA, 01545, US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2002/025991
Publication Date:
February 27, 2003
Filing Date:
August 15, 2002
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
Connors, Joan E. (448 West Main Street Shrewsbury, MA, 01545, US)
International Classes:
A47K17/02; (IPC1-7): E03D11/00
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Blodgett, Gerry A. (43 Highland Street Worcester, MA, 01609, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed is:
1. A device for enhancing the defecation process by a person sitting on a toilet, comprising a foot elevation base which allows the user's feet to be elevated between six and twelve inches above the normal position for a sitting toilet user, so that the user's body is placed in an ergonomic shape which allows for a correct and comfortable foot placement which most greatly enhances the defecation process.
2. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein an antimovement means is provided to keep the device from unintended movement.
3. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 2, wherein the antimovement means is an element which binds the device to the toilet.
4. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 3, wherein the antimovement means is an element with a first end, a second end, and a mid section, wherein the first and second ends are attached to the elevation base and the mid section surrounds the back of the toilet base, so that the device encircles the toilet base.
5. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 2, wherein the elevation base has legs, and antimovement means are friction enhancing feet on the bottom of the legs of the device.
6. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein the elevation base has adjustable length legs to adjust the height that the user's feet are elevated during use.
7. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 6, wherein the elevation base has a button that allows length adjustment of the legs.
8. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein the elevation base has a handle that extends upwardly from the elevation base and is adapted to be grasped by the user during use.
9. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein the elevation base raises the user's feet six to twelve inches above the floor.
10. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein the elevation base comes to at least two versions each of which raised the user's feet a different height above the floor.
11. A device for enhancing the defecation process, as recited in Claim 1, wherein the elevation base comes to at least two versions each of which raised the user's feet a different height above the floor, and the two versions are nestable to reduce total combined overall volume for shipping and storage.
Description:
FOOT ELEVATION SYSTEM FOR TOILET CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS [0001] This application claims the benefit under 35 U. S. C. ยง119 (e) of prior U. S.

Provisional Application No. 60/312, 454 filed August 15,2001, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT [0002] This invention has been created without the sponsorship or funding of any federally sponsored research or development program.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION [0003] This invention relates generally to a method and equipment for reducing the physical damage to a person when that person is using a toilet to make a bowel movement, and, more specifically, to a foot support or elevation system which places the human body into an improved physiological position when the person is using a toilet to make bowel movement.

[0004] Many people experience constipation. When that happens, they frequently find themselves trying to force bowel movements in a process called"straining at stools". This process of forcing the bowel movement, when the person is in a normal sitting toilet position, is often very damaging to the person's internal organs, muscles, cartiledge, and ligaments.

In particular, it has been associated with damage to the colon and rectal area.

[0005] It has been discovered that some of the damaging aspects of"straining at stools"can be reduced by putting the body into a more appropriate position than the normal sitting position traditionally used in modern practice. More specifically, it has been found that, if the feet are elevated about six to twelve inches above their normal position on the floor, the body is placed in a position in which it is more safely able to apply pressure to the contents of the colon.

[0006] Attempts to allow the human body to achieve the more physiologically correct position, which is commonly called"squatting", have generally been divided into two approaches. In one approach, the toilet is designed with foot platforms or positions on each side of the toilet and at the level of the toilet seat, so that the user can actually support their entire body weight on these foot platforms and assume a true squatting position over the toilet. This is essentially achieved without any necessity for non-foot contact with the toilet itself. Although this approach appears to allow an improved physiological position, it does create a very unstable position for the user and very significantly increases the risk of accidental falling and attendant injury.

[0007] The other approach is to allow the user to maintain the sitting position on the toilet, but to simply raise the feet of the user about nine inches above their normal position. The attempts to carry out this approach seemed to break down into two categories. One category of foot elevation systems are essentially built into the toilet itself. The toilet structure is redesigned to provide a platform for each foot which raises each foot nine inches above its normal position. Unfortunately, the operations necessary to fabricate the typical porcelain toilet with the additional foot elevation elements very significantly increase the cost and awkwardness of the toilets. Furthermore, the presence of the foot elevation elements which extend forward from the toilet provide some potential problems in terms of other uses for the toilet and can raise potential for various tripping injuries and toe stubbing injuries for those using and moving around the toilet area.

[0008] A second category involves providing a non-unitary device which sits in front of the toilet or around the front of the toilet and which provides a surface upon which the user's feet can be elevated into the appropriate position. One group of designs which adopt this approach are simply specially-shaped stools which either sit in front of the toilet or wrap around the front of the toilet. Because the floor of most bathrooms is fairly slippery, these free standing stool-type structures can be quite unstable and can slip forward and away from the toilet leaving the user in a very unstable position or causing undue stress. Another approach involves including a super structure of elements that extend upward from the free standing stool and which allow the user to hold the stool in place and possibly rest the upper body on the super structure. However, these kinds of designs are very expensive to manufacture, are basically unstable because of the high center of gravity, and are very inconvenient to use and store. Furthermore, those types of super structures do not really prevent the stool from sliding on the floor away from the toilet and leaving the user in an uncomfortable and possibly dangerous position.

[0009] It is, therefore, a principle object of the present invention, to provide a foot elevation device which stably and effectively elevates a toilet user's feet while the user is sitting on the toilet.

[0010] A further object of the present invention is the provision of a foot elevator for use by a sitting toilet user which device is stable and will not slide away from the toilet when the user is using the device to elevate the user's feet. This is accomplished by non-skid devices on the bottoms of the feet of all of the legs. In addition, the feet of the device are shaped so that movement is even more difficult and so that the effectiveness of the non-skid devices on the bottom is greatly increased..

[00111 A still further object of the present invention is the provision of a foot elevator for use by a person sitting on the toilet, which can be easily connected or disconnected to the toilet so that the device can not be removed by children and yet can be easily removed for cleaning or other purposes.

[00121 It is an object of the present invention that the foot elevator system be height adjustable by means of adjustable legs which makes the system ergonomically and physiologically correct.

[0013] Finally, it is an object of the present invention to provide a foot elevator system which is inexpensive and easy to manufacture and which is capable of a long and useful life with a minimum of maintenance or difficulty.

[00141 With these and other objects in view, as will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention resides in the combination of parts set forth in the specification and covered by the claims appended thereto.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION [0015] This invention is a stool designed to sit in front of and wrap slightly around the front base of a toilet to elevate the feet of a sitting toilet user about nine inches (six to twelve inches, depending on the height of the user) above the normal position of the foot to decrease the angle between the user's upper legs and the user's torso and thereby to allow more effective use of the toilet for bowel movements. The device may have adjustable legs to allow users of varying heights to raise their legs to the correct level to achieve a more appropriate in ara-angle for the bowel. The device may have a system for keeping the device from moving away from the toilet and, more specifically, the device may have strap which passes around the back of the toilet to keep the device from moving away from the toilet when the user has the user's feet on the device. In addition, the strap makes it more difficult for a small child to move the stool from the toilet to another location where the stool might allow undesired access for the child. Alternatively, the bottoms of the legs of the system may have friction enhancing floor contact surfaces that discourage system from unintentionally sliding along the floor. The device is ergonomically shaped to allow for the most comfortable, defecation-enhancing position of the feet.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS [0016] The character of the invention, however, may best be understood by reference to one of its structural forms, as illustrated by the accompanying drawings, in which: [0017l FIG. 1 is a diagrammatic representation of a toilet user sitting on the toilet and using a device which embodies the principles of the present invention; [0018] FIG. 2 is a plan view from the top of a toilet showing a device embodying the principles of the present invention installed in front of the base of the toilet; [0019] FIG. 3 is a plan view with a section through the toilet showing a device embodying the principles of the present invention as installed on the base of the toilet; [0020] FIG. 4 is a diagrammatic representation of the human anatomy as positioned in the normal sitting position on the toilet; [00211 FIG. 5 is a diagrammatic representation of the human anatomy sitting on the toilet with the feet elevated in the manner described by the present invention; 100221 FIG. 6 is a plan view of a device embodying the principles of the present invention; [0023] FIG. 7 is a bottom view of the device shown in FIG. 6; [0024] FIG. 8 is a front elevation view showing the device in FIG. 6; [0025] FIG. 9 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 6; [0026] FIG. 10 is right elevation view showing the device in FIG. 6; and [0027] FIG. 11 is left elevation view showing the device in FIG. 6.

[0028] FIG. 12 is a bottom view of a second device embodying the principles of the present invention; [0029] FIG. 13 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG. 12; [0030] FIG. 14 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12; [0031] FIG. 15 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12; [0032] FIG. 16 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12; [0033] FIG. 17 is a bottom view of a third device embodying the principles of the present invention; [0034] FIG. 18 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG. 17; [0035] FIG. 19 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 17; [0036] FIG. 20 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 17; [0037] FIG. 21 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG. 17; [00381 FIG. 22 is a bottom view of a fourth device embodying the principles of the present invention; 100391 FIG. 23 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG. 22 ; [0040] FIG. 24 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 22; [00411 FIG. 25 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 22; and [0042] FIG. 26 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG. 22.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION [0043] As best shown in FIG. 1, the foot elevation system, generally indicated by the reference numeral 10, is shown positioned in front of and attached to a toilet and bearing and elevating the feet of a user sitting on the toilet. l0044] In FIG. 2 the foot elevation system is shown attached to the toilet. The nonskid surface 12 on the top surface 11 of the system is shown and allows the user to place the user's feet in the most comfortable position.

[0045] FIG. 3 shows a top view of the system with the toilet sectioned so that the preferred manner of attaching the system to the base of the toilet is shown. A strap 13 extends from each side of the system and extends around the back with the base of the toilet to lock the device into position at the front base of the toilet. The strap can be unfastened so that the device can be easily removed from the toilet if desired.

[0046] The length of the strap can be adjustable and it can be elastic so that it will universally adapt to the various geometries of toilet and still provide a stable connection between the system and the toilet.

[0047] FIG. 4 shows, in a schematic view, the anal region of a person sitting on a toilet in the normal sitting position. This illustration shows the sacrum sa, the coccyx bone cb, the purburectal muscle pm, the rectum re, and the anus an.

[0048] It has been observed by radiological examination during the movement of the bowels that the anorectal-angle, well known in the special language as ara-angle and hereinafter referred to as ara-angle alpha (oye) is extremely important. By determining ara-angle alpha, it may be determined that the anus-channel ac is in a straight line with the rectum re and, therefore, reduces resistance to the movement of the bowels, or, if the anus-channel ac is bent out of line with the rectum re, resistance to material flow occurs, and complicates the movement of the bowels.

[0049] The size of this ara-angle alpha is measured between the tangential elongation, between the beginning of the anus an and the back partition of the rectalampulera and the central axis ca of the anus an. In the normal sitting posture, the size of the ara-angle alpha is about 90 degrees. During defecation, this ara-angle alpha increases to 110 degrees due to the relaxing of the anus-muscle or puborectal muscle pm.

[00501 An ara-angle alpha of 90 degrees in the sitting posture and of 110 degrees during the defecation indicates that the anus-channel ac is out of line and bent against the rectum re and, therefore, creates a mechanical obstacle which restricts the movement of the bowels during defecation. Therefore, it may be understood that the posture on common toilets is not optimal for defecation. l0051] A straightening of the anus-channel may be achieved by adopting a squatting posture during defecation. This natural posture is still found in use in less developed countries.

However, in most of the industrialized countries, a sitting posture is preferred, which generally allows a more dignified, albeit not necessarily more healthy, execution of the defecation.

100521 FIG. 5 shows a diagrammatic view of the anus region of a person in a squatting posture. As may be seen from this illustration, the anus-channel ac is more or less in a straight line with the rectum re. This results in a greater value of the ara-angle alpha than in the position shown in FIG. 4. In this squatting posture, the value of the ara-angle alpha is approximately 118 degrees. This ara-angle alpha increases to approximately 135 degrees during defecation. Therefore, if the ara-angle alpha reaches approximately 120 degrees, an optimal posture for defecation is reached, because of the approximate alignment of the anus channel ac with the rectum re. Normally, an ara-angle alpha of 120 degrees will be reached if the angle between the thighs and the torso is approximately 30 degrees. This angle is measured between the femur and a straight line which leads from the sacral segment sl to the back of the neck.

[0053] It has been found that, if a person sitting on the toilet is able to lift the person's feet approximately 9 inches (six to twelve inches) above the normal sitting position for the feet, a position which is sufficiently approximate to a squatting position is achieved and the physiology shown in FIG. 5 is achieved. When a person is in this position, it has been found that resistance to flow is considerably reduced during defecation.

[00541 FIG. 6 shows the top view of the system of the present invention. A planar top surface consists completely of a large slip resistant area appropriate for placing the person's feet on the top surface of the device in the position most comfortable for the user. A strap is provided on the back of the device to fix the device to the toilet and fastening elements are included on each side of the device for holding the strap to the device. An inset portion on the back of the device allows the device to surround the front and some of each of the sides of the toilet base. The drawings show a design with seven legs; one on each of the four rear corners, two spaced-apart and centered on the front edge, and one on the rear edge of the forward portion, adjacent the toilet base. An alternative design replaces the two front legs with a single leg centered on the front edge.

[0055] FIG. 7 shows a bottom view of the device including seven legs, one at each rear corner, two on the front edge and one on the rear edge of the forward portion.

[0056] FIG. 8 shows a front view of the device including the fastening elements on each end and the front two legs. It should be understood that the two front legs could be combined into a single front centered leg.

[0057] FIG. 9 shows a rear view of the device including the strap, the fastening devices on each side, the two rear legs 15, and the inset portion which allows the device to surround the front and sides of the toilet base.

[0058] FIG. 10 shows a side view of the device including the two right side legs 15, the fastening device and the strap.

[0059] FIG. 10 shows a left side view of the device including the two left side legs 15, the fastening element and the strap.

[0060] In order to use the device, the user would place the device in front of the toilet with the U-shaped inset portion against the toilet base so that the device surrounds the front and sides of the toilet base. The strap 13 would be passed around the back of the toilet base in order to secure the device on the front of the toilet. The user would then sit on the toilet and lift the user's feet up and place them on the nonskid surfaces 11 on the top surface 12 of the device. The user could then carry out the defecation process in a much more comfortable and less potentially damaging method. When the user is done, the device can either be left on the toilet or can be easily removed from the toilet for storage, cleaning, or to simply put the device out of the path of people using the bathroom.

[0061] In the preferred embodiment of the invention, the device would have length adjustable legs to allow adjustment of the height of the stool. The system could also be available in a variety of heights, for example, six, nine and twelve inches in height. In one design, design would allow the lower height stool to nest within the next higher stool, and so on, so that a set of stools could be shipped and/or stored, and/or used in the nested and reduced overall volume condition. The preferred design would allow the user to press a conveniently located button or buttons on the top edge of the stool that will release the legs into the desired height required for the correct ergonomics to be established for that user's height and physiology. Conventional mechanical linkages would be used. Alternatively, each leg could be individually length adjustable by means of a telescoping structure with a spring- loaded button 17 in an inner tube and a series of holes in an outer tube, operated in the conventional way. The preferred device would also have a u-shaped handle or bar 16 extending upward from the stool surface and graspable by the user during use. The handle would be adapted to stabilize the user's position during defecation and adapted for moving the stool around. It would also be positioned to discourage improper use of the device as a conventional stool, and especially to discourage user foot placement and/or weight placement on the middle of the devise's upper surface.

[0062] FIG. 12 through 16 show a second device 10a embodying the principles of the present invention. FIG. 12 shows a bottom view of the second device. FIG. 13 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG. 12. The inset portion 14 is adapted to surround the front of the toilet base. The slip resistant surface lla, mounted on the planar top surface, is supported adjacent the toilet by legs 15a of adjustable length. Adjustment is accomplished by adjustment button 17a. A u-shaped bar extends upward from the slip resistant surface 11a.

FIG. 14 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12. FIG. 15 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12. FIG. 16 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG. 12.

[0063] FIG. 17 through 21 shows a third device 10b embodying the principles of the present invention. FIG. 17 is a bottom view of the third device with four circular support legs 15b mounted on the bottom surface and of adjustable length. Adjustment is accomplished by adjustment button 17b FIG. 18 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG.

17. The inset portion 14 is adapted to surround the front of the toilet base. The slip resistant surface 11b, mounted on the planar top surface, is supported adjacent the toilet. FIG. 19 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 17. FIG. 20 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 17. FIG. 21 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG.

17.

[0064] FIG. 22 through 26 show a fourth device 10c embodying the principles of the present invention ; FIG. 22 is a bottom view of the fourth device with two circular support legs 15c mounted on the bottom surface and of adjustable length. Adjustment is accomplished by adjustment button 17c. FIG. 23 is a plan view of the device shown in FIG.

22. The inset portion 14 is adapted to surround the front of the toilet base. The slip resistant surface lie, mounted on the planar top surface, is supported adjacent the toilet. FIG. 24 is a side elevation view showing the device in FIG. 22. FIG. 25 is a rear elevation view showing the device in FIG. 22. FIG. 26 is front elevation view showing the device in FIG.

22.

[00651 Adjustable legs are provided to accommodate users of varying heights and thereby provide the optimum physiological body position for decreasing the bowel angle. The stool is ergonomically shaped for the correct placement of the user's feet on the stool.

Specifically, if the feet are positioned directly in front of the body as would occur using a regular stool, that would not achieve the most stable and comfortable position. The stool's unique horseshoe shape allows the user to place his or her feet slightly to the side of the body, separating the legs and thereby creating stability and comfort as well as the most ergonomic position for defecation.

[0066] It is obvious that minor changes may be made in the form and construction of the invention without departing from the material spirit thereof. It is not, however, desired to confine the invention to the exact form herein shown and described, but it is desired to include all such as properly come within the scope claimed.

[0067] The invention having been thus described, what is claimed as new and desired to secure by Letters Patent is: