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Patent Searching and Data


Title:
HEAD SUPPORT
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/083934
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A head support (10) worn by a person for supporting the person's head to prevent the head from falling involuntarily e.g. during sleeping while sitting. Head support (10) has a pedestal (14) between a jaw support (16) and a load transfer system (61, 94) supported on or by the person's body. First coupling (45) couples the pedestal (14) to the jaw support 16 to enable user adjustable juxtaposition in one of a plurality of positions. Second coupling (23) is a quick release connection between the pedestal (14) and the load transfer system (61, 94). First coupling (45) may provide a finite number of juxtapositions (figs 8, 9). Length of the pedestal (14) may be adjustable by complementary screw threads (figs 6a to 7b) or pawl and ratchet teeth (figs 1-5) and may include a spring damper.

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Inventors:
WEBBER MICHAEL JOHN (AU)
Application Number:
AU2016/051125
Publication Date:
May 26, 2017
Filing Date:
November 18, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
WEBBER MICHAEL JOHN (AU)
International Classes:
A47C16/00; A47C7/38
Foreign References:
US20110169316A12011-07-14
US6423020B12002-07-23
US20150245940A12015-09-03
US4793334A1988-12-27
US8584283B22013-11-19
US8814106B22014-08-26
US20120047656A12012-03-01
US8820838B12014-09-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GRIFFITH HACK (109 St Georges TerracePerth, Western Australia 6000, AU)
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Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A head support configured to be worn by a person for supporting the person's head so as to prevent the head from falling involuntarily, the head support comprising: a jaw support;

a load transfer system arranged to be supported on or by the person's body;

a pedestal;

a first coupling arranged to facilitate coupling between the pedestal and the jaw support in a manner to enable user adjustable juxtaposition of the jaw support and the pedestal in one of a plurality of positions; and

a second coupling arranged to facilitate quick release connection between the pedestal and the load transfer system;

wherein weight of a person's head supported on the jaw support is transferred via the pedestal and the load transfer system to the person's body.

2. The head support according to claim 1 wherein the first coupling is arranged to provide a finite number of juxtapositions of the jaw support and the pedestal.

3. The head support according to claim 1 or 2 wherein the first coupling comprises a plurality of recesses formed on one of the pedestal and the jaw support and a at least one protrusion formed on the other of the pedestal and the jaw support configured to seat in at least one respective recess. 4. The head support according to claim 3 wherein the first coupling comprises a

locking mechanism arranged to enable locking of the at least one protrusion in respective at least one recesses to maintain a selected juxtaposition of the jaw support and the pedestal, and unlocking of the at least one protrusion from the respective at least one recesses to enable adjustment of the juxtaposition. 5. The head support according to any one of claims 1 -4 wherein the second coupling is operable by one hand to facilitate decoupling of the pedestal from the load transfer system.

6. The head support according to claim 4 or 5 wherein the second coupling is a snap coupling.

7. The head support according to any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the load transfer system comprises a base configured to receive the second coupling.

8. The head support according to any one of claims 1 to 6 wherein the load transfer system comprises a harness configured to be worn over the shoulders and about the torso of the person.

9. The head support according to claim 8 wherein the load transfer system comprises a base configured to receive the second coupling, the base being coupled to the harness.

10. The head support according to claim 9 wherein the harness is operable to enable the base to be located against a person's sternum during use.

1 1 . The head support according to any one of claims 1 to 10 wherein the pedestal comprises a first member and a second member being coupled to each other in a manner to enable the person to adjust an overall length of the pedestal.

12. The head support according to claim 1 1 wherein the first member supports the first coupling and comprises a sleeve in which the second member is received.

13. The head support according to claim 1 1 or 12 comprising a length adjustment mechanism having a first part on the first member and a second part on the second member and wherein over a full range of overall length adjustment of the pedestal the first member covers the length adjustment mechanism. 14. The head support according to claim 13 wherein the first and second parts of the length adjustment mechanism comprise complementary screw threads.

15. The head support according to claim 13 wherein the first and second parts of the length adjustment mechanism are arranged to engage each other when in a first rotational relationship and to disengage when in a second rotational relationship to enable adjustment of the overall length of the pedestal.

16. The head support according to any one of the preceding claims when dependent directly or indirectly on claim 7 wherein the load transfer system comprises a body strap arrangement for supporting the pedestal on the person's body between the person's jaw and the person's sternum, wherein the body strap arrangement is arranged to extend between the person's back and a seat back for frictionally trapping the body strap arrangement.

The head support according to claim 16 wherein the body strap arrangement comprises shoulder straps runs up the front of a person using the head support and over their shoulders and a back strap attached to the shoulder straps were in the back strap is of a length sufficient to enable the person to sit on the back strap when using the head support.

The head support according to claim 7 wherein the load transfer system comprises a neck strap coupled to the base and arranged to bear against a back of a person's neck when using the head support.

The head support according to any one of claims 1 to 6 comprising a base attached to the pedestal and wherein the second coupling detachably the couples the base to the load transfer system.

20. A head support according to any one of the preceding claims, comprising a head strap being arranged to secure the pedestal to the person's head.

21 . A head support as claimed in claim 20, wherein the head strap is elastic.

22. The head support according to claim 1 1 wherein the pedestal comprises a first member and a second member being telescopically joined to each other.

23. A head support according to claim 22, which comprises a locking mechanism being arranged to releasably lock the first member to the second member.

24. A head support according to claim 23, wherein the locking mechanism comprises a pawl arranged to engage ratchet teeth, wherein the ratchet teeth extend axially along the first elongated member and the pawl is mounted to the second elongated member or vice versa.

25. A head support according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the pedestal is compressible.

26. A head support as claimed in claim 25, comprising a damper system being arranged to dampen compression of the pedestal along at least a portion of a length of the pedestal.

A head support as claimed in claim 26, wherein the pedestal comprises a third member movably carried by the second member, wherein the damper system is arranged to dampen relative movement between the second member and the third member. 28. A head support as claimed in claim 26 or 27, wherein the damper system is a spring supported between the second elongated member and the third elongated member.

29. A head support as claimed in claim 26 or 27, wherein the damper system is a

compressible material supported between the second elongated member and the third elongated member. 30. The head support according to any one of the preceding claims wherein the jaw support is one of a plurality of interchangeable jaw supports of different size.

31 . The head support according to any one of claims 1 -30 wherein the jaw support comprises a base and one of a plurality of interchangeable inserts, wherein each insert is demountably connectable to the base to enable accommodation of people of different jaw size.

Description:
Head support FIELD

The present invention relates to a head support.

More particularly, the present invention relates to a head support for use by a person while travelling.

Many people have trouble sleeping while sitting in an upright orientation, e.g. while sitting in a car seat or on an airplane seat that has limited reclining options. This is largely due to the person not being able to relax completely as the person involuntarily tensions their neck muscles to hold their head upright. Often, should the person manage to fall asleep more deeply, their head drops forward due to relaxing of the neck muscles and this results in a falling sensation causing the person to reflexively jerk their head upright once more and waking the person.

In an attempt to alleviate this difficulty, many airplanes have headrests with side panels that can be bent forward to provide a head support for a person so that they can rest their head in a corner form by a back panel of the head support and the side panel. When resting against both such panels, the increased friction holding the person's head in place does lessen the likelihood of the person's head dropping forward, but it does not fully prevent this from happening. This is due to the natural movement during sleep whereby the person will slide or turn their head from side-to-side, either in response to dreams or to relax muscles or to relax pressure points of the headrest and/or seat pressing onto the person's body.

A number of consumer products are also available that attempt to address the above problems. For example, some people travel with medical neck braces strapped around their neck to hold their head upright. There are also various travel cushions that are designed to fully or partially encircle a person's neck, which may be secured to retain the cushion in place, so that the person rests on the cushion pressing against their own shoulder. A drawback to using such neck braces and travel cushions is that they press against the neck and thus do not allow much ventilation, often resulting in uncomfortable sweating around on neck. Also, although the travel cushions are often made of compressible memory foam or are filled with small beads so that they can be manipulated to take on a desired shape providing head support in the requisite position, many travel cushions are too bulky and therefore cannot conform to the desired shape or cannot do so sufficiently quickly. This may result in the travel cushion pushing the person's head into uncomfortable positions as they move around while sleeping and causing the person to wake.

It is to be understood that, if any prior art publication is referred to herein, such reference does not constitute an admission that the publication forms a part of the common general knowledge in the art in any country.

SUMMARY

According to one aspect, there is provided a head support configured to be worn by a person for supporting the person's head so as to prevent the head from falling forward involuntarily, the head support comprising:

a pedestal being configured to be located between the person's head and their chest; and

a neck strap for locating the pedestal between the person's jaw and the person's sternum, wherein the neck strap is arranged to extend between the person's back and a seat back for frictionally trapping the neck strap. According to another aspect, there is provided a head support configured to be worn by a person for supporting the person's head so as to prevent the head from falling forward involuntarily, the head support comprising:

a pedestal being configured to be located between the person's head and their chest; and

an attachment system for securing the pedestal to the person's head.

The pedestal may comprise a first elongated member and a second elongated member being telescopically joined to each other.

The head support may comprise a locking mechanism being arranged to releasably lock the first elongated member to the second elongated member. The locking mechanism may comprise a pawl arranged to engage ratchet teeth, wherein the ratchet teeth extend axially along the first elongated member and the pawl is mounted to the second elongated member or vice versa.

The pedestal may be axially compressible.

The head support may comprise a damper system being arranged to dampen axial compression of the pedestal. The pedestal may comprise a third elongated member movably carried by the second elongated member, wherein the damper system is arranged to dampen relative movement between the second elongated member and the third elongated member. The damper system may be a spring supported between the second elongated member and the third elongated member. The damper system may be a compressible material supported between the second elongated member and the third elongated member. The material may be foam sponge or a gas housed in a sealed chamber.

One end of the pedestal may carry a jaw support being arranged to cup the person's jaw during use. The jaw support may have a cushion for abutting the person's jaw. The cushion may be made of foam, sponge, plasticine or gel. The jaw support may be malleable so that, in use, it can be bent to more closely conform to the persons jaw.

The pedestal may be pivotally joined to the jaw support by a pivot. The pivot may be a ball-and-socket joint.

The head support may comprise a head strap being arranged to secure the jaw support the person's head. The head strap may be elastic.

The pedestal may carry a base at one end, wherein the base is configured to be located against a person's sternum during use. The base may be contoured to be substantially complementary to a ribcage at or surrounding the sternum. The base may have a cushion provided on its rear face arranged to be directed towards the person. The cushion may be made of foam, sponge, plasticine or gel.

The pedestal may be pivotally joined to the base by a pivot. The pivot may be a ball-and- socket joint. The attachment system may comprise a neck strap for locating the pedestal between the person's jaw and the person's sternum, wherein the neck strap is arranged to extend between the person's back and a seat back for frictionally trapping the neck strap.

According to another aspect, there is provided a head support configured to be worn by a person for supporting the person's head so as to prevent the head from falling forward involuntarily, the head support comprising:

a base configured to be located against the person's sternum during use;

a jaw support configured to cup the person's jaw during use;

a pedestal comprising a first elongated member and a second elongated member, wherein the first elongated member is axially slidably joined to the second elongated member, and wherein the first elongated member is pivotally joined to the base and the second elongated member is pivotally joined to the jaw support; and

a neck strap joined to the base for locating the base against the person's sternum, wherein the neck strap is arranged to extend between the person's back and a seat back for frictionally trapping the neck strap.

The head support may comprise a head strap joined to the jaw support and being suitable for securing the jaw support to the person's head.

The pedestal may be configured, in use, to normally extend in a substantially upright direction so as to define a axis, wherein the base is configured to remain stationary relative to the axis, and wherein the pedestal permits the jaw support to pivot through a plane transverse to the axis. The pedestal may be able to pivot between 0° and 40° away from the axis.

According to another aspect, there is provided head support configured to be worn by a person for supporting the person's head so as to prevent the head from falling

involuntarily, the head support comprising:

a jaw support;

a load transfer system arranged to be supported on or by the person's body;

a pedestal;

a first coupling arranged to facilitate coupling between the pedestal and the jaw support in a manner to enable user adjustable juxtaposition of the jaw support and the pedestal in one of a plurality of positions; and a second coupling arranged to facilitate quick release connection between the pedestal and the load transfer system wherein weight of a person's head supported on the jaw support is transferred through the pedestal to the load transfer system.

In one embodiment the first coupling is arranged to provide a finite number of juxtapositions of the jaw support and the pedestal.

In one embodiment the first coupling comprises a plurality of recesses formed on one of the pedestal and the jaw support and a at least one protrusion formed on the other of the pedestal and the jaw support configured to seat in at least one respective recess.

In one embodiment the first coupling comprises a locking mechanism arranged to enable locking of the at least one protrusion in respective at least one recesses to maintain a selected juxtaposition of the jaw support and the pedestal, and unlocking of the at least one protrusion from the respective at least one recesses to enable adjustment of the juxtaposition.

In one embodiment the second coupling is operable by one hand to facilitate decoupling of the pedestal from the load transfer system.

In one embodiment the second coupling is a snap coupling.

In one embodiment the load transfer system comprises a plate configured to receive the second coupling.

In one embodiment the load transfer system comprises a harness configured to be worn over the shoulders and about the torso of the person.

In one embodiment the load transfer system comprises a plate configured to receive the second coupling, the plate being coupled to the harness.

In one embodiment the harness is operable to enable the plate to be located against a person's sternum during use. In one embodiment the pedestal comprises a first member and a second member being coupled to each other in a manner to enable the person to adjust an overall length of the pedestal.

In one embodiment the first member supports the first coupling and comprises a sleeve in which the second member is received.

In one embodiment the head support comprises a length adjustment mechanism having a first part on the first member and a second part on the second member and wherein over a full range of overall length adjustment of the pedestal the first member covers the length adjustment mechanism. In one embodiment the first and second parts of the length adjustment mechanism comprise complementary screw threads.

In one embodiment the first and second parts of the length adjustment mechanism are arranged to engage each other when in a first rotational relationship and to disengage when in a second rotational relationship to enable adjustment of the overall length of the pedestal.

In one embodiment of this aspect the load transfer system comprises a neck strap for locating the pedestal between the person's jaw and the person's sternum, wherein the neck strap is arranged to extend between the person's back and a seat back for frictionally trapping the neck strap. In this embodiment the head support may also have a head strap being arranged to secure the pedestal to the person's head. The head strap may be elastic.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE FIGURES

Embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying schematic drawings, in which:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a first embodiment of a head support;

Figure 2 is a front view of the head support seen along arrow II in Figure 1 ;

Figure 3 is a left side view of the head support seen along arrow III in Figure 2;

Figure 4 is an enlarged scale sectional side view of the head support seen along arrows IV-IV in Figure 2;

Figure 5 is a perspective view of a second embodiment of a head support;

Figure 6a is a from view of a third embodiment of the head support;

Figure 6b is a section view of the head support shown in Figure 6a;

Figure 6c is a perspective view of the head support shown in Figure 6a;

Figure 7a is a schematic representation from the front of a person using an embodiment of the head support having an alternate form of load transfer system;

Figure 7b is a side view of the head support shown in Figure 7a;

Figures 8 and 9 are schematic representations of first and second portions respectively of a coupling used in a further embodiment of the head support; and Figures 10a and 10b are schematic representations of a coupling in engaged and disengaged states respectively that may be incorporated in embodiments of the head support for providing a quick release connection between a pedestal of the head support and the base of the head support. DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Figures 1 to 4 show a first embodiment of the head support 10 being configured to be worn by a person so as to support a person's head and prevent the head falling involuntarily. In general the head support 10 comprises a base 12 being arranged to be located against the person's chest, a pedestal 14 being supported by and extending from the base 12, and a jaw support 16 carried by the pedestal 14. .

The base 12 comprises a substantially flat plate 18 having a rear face 20 and a front face 22. The plate 18 is shaped and sized to form a sufficiently large footprint when located against the person's chest so that the base 12 can press comfortably against the chest without causing any pressure points. Specifically, the plate 18 is arranged to rest against the person's sternum. Depending on the size of the plate 18 it may also extend laterally to rest against the person's costal cartilages or ribs. Such location of the plate 18 ensures that it will not press into the person's diaphragm or stomach and thus will not impact on their breathing ability. In this embodiment the plate 18 is substantially rectangular in shape. The plate 18 may for example be dimensioned to have sides of between 70 mm and 120 mm. However, it will be appreciated that the plate 18 could be provided in other dimensions and shapes and may be contoured to be substantially complimentary to a ribcage. Although not illustrated in the drawings, the rear face 20 can be provided with a non-slip coating or webbing to improve its ability to retain its location without slipping out of place. The rear face 20 can also be provided with a cushion (shown for example in an embodiment of the head support 10a described later with reference to Figures 6a-6c) to assist in comfortable wearing of the plate 18 and avoid the plate 18 from digging into the person's chest. Such a cushion could be made of foam, sponge, plasticine or gel.

Optionally the cushion is enclosed by a hygienic cloth covering.

The front face 22 supports the pedestal 14 and is joined thereto by a coupling 23 in the form of a ball-and-socket joint 24 comprising a socket 26 being integrally formed with the plate 18 and a ball 28 being integrally formed with the pedestal 14. The socket 26 is orientated so that its opening extends in a plane that is transverse to the plane of the rear face 20, i.e. being arranged so that in use the opening of the socket 26 will face generally upwardly towards the person's head while the plate 18 abuts their chest. When the pedestal 14 is centrally positioned in the socket 26 the pedestal extends along axis 30. In the exemplary embodiment the axis 30 is orientated substantially vertically, but in other embodiments the axis 30 may be angled away from the vertical due to the juxtaposition of a person's head and chest or the position that the base 12 is located on the chest. The ball-and-socket joint 24 permits the pedestal 14 to be pivoted freely in any direction away from axis 30 by between 0° and 40°, whereby the degree of pivoting is only restricted by the pedestal 14 contacting an annular perimeter of the socket 26 surrounding the socket opening.

The pedestal 14 comprises interconnected parts, namely a first member in the form of a first shaft 32, and a second member which in this embodiment is the ensemble of a sleeve 34 and a second shaft 36. Due to their functionally operative positions, the first shaft 32 will hereinafter be referred to as a base shaft 32, whereas the second shaft 36 will hereinafter be referred to as a top shaft 36.

The base shaft 32 has the ball 28 being integrally formed at one terminal end thereof, while its opposed terminal end 38 is axially slidably located within sleeve 34 so that base shaft 32 and sleeve 34 are telescopically joined together. A length adjustment mechanism 40 enables the overall length of the pedestal 14 to be adjusted. The length adjustment mechanism also operates to inter-engage the base shaft 32 to sleeve 34. Accordingly in this embodiment of the length adjustment mechanism 40 can also be considered to be a locking mechanism. The mechanism 40 comprises ratchet teeth 42 extending axially at least partially along the length of base shaft 32 and a pawl 44 that is mounted to sleeve 34. Ratchet teeth 42 and pawl 44 are more clearly illustrated in Figure 4. Mechanism 40 is arranged to permit the sleeve 34 to be slidably extended from base shaft 32 so as to lengthen the pedestal 14, but that retraction thereof to shorten the pedestal 14 is prevented unless the pawl 44 is disengaged from the ratchet teeth 42. Accordingly, it will be understood that the mechanism 40 in this embodiment is normally biased into a locking configuration whereby the pawl 44 is positioned to engage the ratchet teeth 42.

Top shaft 36 supports the jaw support 16 and is joined thereto by a coupling 45 in the form of ball-and-socket joint 46 comprising a socket 48 being integrally formed with jaw support 16 and a ball 50 being integrally formed at one terminal end of the top shaft 36. An opposed terminal end 52 of top shaft 36 is slidably secured within sleeve 34 at an end thereof being opposed to base shaft 32. Thus top shaft 36 is axially slidable within sleeve 34 but cannot be inadvertently extracted therefrom. Sleeve 34 is provided with an internal collar 54 approximately midway along its length, whereby collar 54 is located between the base shaft 32 and the top shaft 36. Collar 54 is arranged to support a spring 56 that engages with the terminal end 52 of top shaft 36. In the exemplary embodiment spring 56 is a coil spring, for example such as a compression coil spring. However, it will be appreciated that other types of springs could also be used, such as a torsion spring, a volute spring, or a Bellville spring. In use, spring 56 is directed to dampen sliding movement of top shaft 36 within sleeve 34. Accordingly spring 56 is arranged to act as a damper or shock absorber. In one embodiment the spring 56 can be arranged to provide a constant dampening force, whereas in another embodiment the spring 56 can be arranged to provide increasing dampening force as the top shaft 36 progressively slides into sleeve 34.

It will be appreciated that other types of dampers or shock absorbers could be provided in place of spring 56. For example a resiliently compressible material such as foam sponge could provide similar dampening movement of top shaft 36. In such an embodiment it would be beneficial to have collar 54 being enlarged transversally to provide increased support for the compressible material so that it cannot be pressed through the opening of collar 54. It may be even more beneficial to replace collar 54 with a transverse wall extending fully across sleeve 34. In another embodiment a sealed pneumatic chamber may be provided between collar 54 and top shaft 36 for operation as a gas spring. The jaw support 16 comprises a jaw plate 58 carrying the socket 48. Jaw plate 58 is shaped in a curved arc so as to cup the person's jaw. As such the curved arc is sufficiently large to extend both beneath and forward of the jaw and laterally around both sides of the jaw. Although not illustrated in the drawings, the jaw plate 58 can be lined on its internal face 60 with a cushion or other soft material to more comfortably receive the person's jaw. In one embodiment the jaw plate 58 is made of a rigid plastics material, e.g. polypropylene, polyethylene, PET or polyvinylchloride. In another embodiment the jaw plate 58 is made of a malleable metal material so that it can be bent to more closely conform to the person's jaw. Such malleability should be sufficiently stiff that it can be pressed into a desired shape by the person's hand but that it cannot be bent out of shape during movement of the person's jaw or head.

The socket 48 is orientated so that in use its opening will face generally downwardly towards the person's chest, i.e. when the pedestal 14 is centrally positioned in the socket 48 the opening is substantially transverse to the axis 30. The ball-and-socket joint 46 permits the jaw support 16 to be pivoted freely in any direction away from axis 30 by between 0° and 40°, whereby the degree of pivoting is only restricted by the top shaft 36 contacting an annular perimeter of the socket 48 surrounding the socket opening.

In Figures 1 to 4, the head support 10 comprises a load transfer system in the form of a body strap arrangement 61 joined to the base 12. Generally speaking the load transfer system is arranged to transfer at least a part of the weight of the person's head to the body and more particularly away from their neck and onto the straps of a load transfer system and the base 12.

The body strap arrangement 61 is adjustable so that its lengths can be altered as needed. For this purpose the body strap arrangement 61 may comprise normal hooks, loops, clips or latches to respectively join it to the base 12. The body strap arrangement 61 is made of a substantially non-elastic material, such as nylon webbing. The body strap

arrangement 61 has several components, namely a shoulder strap 62, a back strap 68 and a ring 66 which connects the shoulder strap 62 to the back strap 68. The body strap arrangement 61 runs up the front of the person's body with the shoulder strap 62 over their shoulders and the ring 66 located in the region between the person's shoulder blades. The back strap 68 is made of a length that enables the user to sit on the strap 68 to thereby substantially hold, by way of friction, the relative elevation of the plate 18 and thus the jaw support 16 to the person's body. Figure 5 illustrates an embodiment of the head support designated as 10' which differs from the head support 10 by the addition of a head strap 64 that is joined to the jaw support 16. Both the body strap arrangement 61 and the head strap 64 are adjustable so that their lengths can be altered as needed. For this purpose the body strap arrangement 61 and head strap 64 may comprise normal hooks, loops, clips or latches to respectively join them to the base 12 and the jaw support 16. The body strap arrangement 61 is made of a substantially non-elastic material, such as nylon webbing, and is arranged to be passed around the person's neck so as to hang the base 12 at the correct position on their chest. The head strap 64 is made of an elastic material and is arranged to encircle the person's head so as to hold the jaw support 16 in position against their jaw.

In use, the head support 10, 10' is used by the person to support their head so that it does not fall involuntarily should the person fall asleep. Typically the head support 10, 10' will be used by people who will travel for a lengthy time while sitting in an upright position and thus may fall asleep. When using the head support 10, the body strap arrangement 61 runs up the person's body with the shoulder strap 62 passing over their head and located around their neck, with the back strap 68 passing between the persons legs. The position of the body strap arrangement 61 is adjusted as needed so that the base 12 hangs in front of and against their sternum. This is achieved by pulling on the back strap 68 so that the shoulder strap 62 is located spaced away from their neck and, for example, with the ring 66 located roughly between their shoulder blades. The person then sits back against and on the back strap 68 and the shoulder strap 62 and traps these in place so that the base 12 cannot move out of position. While the person initially holds their head in a comfortable position the length of the pedestal 14 is adjusted until the jaw plate 58 cups their jaw. If such adjustment entails lengthening of the pedestal 14 this is achieved by simply pulling the sleeve 34 upwardly towards their jaw, whereby the pawl 44 slides over the ratchet teeth 42. Alternatively, if the adjustment entails shortening of the pedestal 14 this is achieved by disengaging the pawl 44 from the ratchet teeth 42 and then pushing the sleeve 34 downwardly towards their chest. When using the head support 10', the body strap arrangement 61 runs up the front of the person's body with the shoulder strap 62 passing over their head and located around their neck, with the back strap 68 passing between the persons legs. The position of the body strap arrangement 61 is adjusted so that the base 12 hangs in front of and against their sternum. While the person initially holds their head in a comfortable position the length of the pedestal 14 is adjusted until the jaw plate 58 cups their jaw. If such adjustment entails lengthening of the pedestal 14 this is achieved by simply pulling the sleeve 34 upwardly towards their jaw, whereby the pawl 44 slides over the ratchet teeth 42. Alternatively, if the adjustment entails shortening of the pedestal 14 this is achieved by disengaging the pawl 44 from the ratchet teeth 42 and then pushing the sleeve 34 downwardly towards their chest. After the jaw is received in the jaw plate 58 the head strap 64 is passed around their head to hold the jaw plate 58 in position. If needed, the head strap 64 can be lengthened or shortened as needed so that the elasticity of the head strap 64 securely holds the jaw plate 58 in position without being too tight.

It will be appreciated that in the exemplary second embodiment the locking bias of the locking mechanism 40 is sufficiently tight that it prevents lengthening of the pedestal 14 due to the weight of the base 12 and base shaft 32 being pulled down by gravity. Thus once the pedestal 14 is set in the desired position, lifting of the person's head will not result in the pawl 44 sliding over the ratchet teeth 42, but will instead result in the entire head support 10' being lifted temporarily away from the person's chest until the head is lowered again.

In both head supports 10, 10', due to the jaw support 16 being pivotably mounted onto the pedestal 14 and due to the pedestal 14 being pivotably mounted onto the base 12, the person will maintain a degree of movement of their head from side-to-side and forward- backward (i.e. up-down movement. The extend of such movement is limited by the maximum 40° pivoting that the pedestal 14 can experience in the sockets 26, 48. Should the person fall asleep, the pedestal 14 will prevent the person's head from jerking forward but will support their head in a largely upright position - only allowing the head to roll slowly down and to the side around the radius defined by pedestal 14 and then only to such an extent until the maximum 40° pivoting has been reached. The locking

mechanism 40 prevents the weight of the person's head from pressing down on the pedestal to cause shortening thereof.

The head support 10, 10' provides the additional benefit that even if it is operatively located in place while the person is awake, the person will still be able to turn their head from side to side to engage in conversation with a companion and will be able to flex or stretch their neck muscles to avoid muscle fatigue, though such movement may be slightly restricted. Such waking movement is further improved by the dampening effect provided by the spring 56 as the support given by the pedestal 14 can be overcome when the jaw is moved downwardly, such as when opening the mouth to speak or to eat. A further advantage provided by the spring 56 is that it allows gentle but restrained nodding of the person's head without requiring the pedestal 14 to be pivoted away from the axis 30. The head strap 64 prevents the person's jaw from lifting away from the jaw plate 58 and thus becoming disengaged from the jaw support 16 in the event that the person lifts their head. The head strap 64 thus reduces the likelihood of the head support 10' accidentally falling away into an inoperative position. However, should the person actively wish to temporarily stop using the head support 10', it can be moved to an inoperative position by simply removing the head strap 64 from their head and pivoting the pedestal 14 to the side at its maximum 40° extent, whereby the jaw support 16 would rest out of the way against their shoulder.

Figures 6a-6c depict a further embodiment of the head support designated as 10a. In describing this embodiment the same reference numbers will be used to designate the same features as in the previous embodiments but with the addition of the suffix "a". One difference between the head support 10a and the head support 10 is the structure of the pedestal 14a. The pedestal 14a comprises only a first member 32a and a second member 34a. The first member 32a is coupled to the second member 34a in a manner to enable the person to adjust an overall length of the pedestal 14a. A length adjustment

mechanism 40a has a first part 70 on the first member 32a and a second part 72 on the second member 34a and wherein over a full range of overall length adjustment of the pedestal the second member 34a covers the length adjustment mechanism 40a. Also as is evident from Figures 6a-6c the pedestal 14a has a curved portion 71 , namely at a lower end of the member 32a where it is coupled to the plate 18a. In this embodiment the first part of the length adjustment mechanism 40a is a screw thread 70 formed about an outer circumferential surface of an upper portion of the first member 32a. The second part of the length adjustment mechanism 40a is a

complementary screw thread 72 formed along a length of an inner circumferential surface of a tubular portion of the second member 34a. The second member 34a in this embodiment may be considered for the combination of the sleeve 34 and the second shaft 36 of the first embodiment but where the sleeve 34 and the shaft 36 integrally formed as a single piece. By providing the screw thread 70 on the outer circumferential surface of an upper portion of the first member 32a length adjustment of the pedestal 14a can be made from the configuration shown in Figure 6a where the second member 34a is fully screwed down onto the first member 32a, to a configuration where a lowermost end of the second member 34a covers a lowermost end of the screw thread 70. In this way the screw thread 70 is always covered to provide an elegant appearance than would be the case if the screw thread 70 were exposed. Indeed it is possible to limit the length extension in this manner for example by screwing a grub screw (not shown) radially through a lower end of the second member 34a to extend into the a beginning of the screw thread 72 and the lowermost end of the second member 34a.

A further variation in the embodiment of the head support 10a in comparison to the support 10 is the form of the coupling between the pedestal 14a and the jaw support 16a. In the head supportl Oa the coupling 45a comprises a socket 48 formed in a portion of the jaw support 16a, a thread 75 formed about the socket 48, a ball 50 formed at the end of the member 34a, and a screw cap 78 which is retained on the member 34a and can be screwed onto the jaw support 16a. The screw cap 78 has a central opening with a diameter less than a diameter of the ball 50. By tightening and loosening of the threaded coupling between the screw cap 78 and thread 75 on the jaw support 16a a person can selectively alter or adjust the position of the jaw support 16a relative to the pedestal 14a. Also as mentioned above the jaw support 16a is provided with a cushion 80 which contacts the jaw of the person using the support 10a. A plurality of holes 82 are formed in the jaw support 16a to provide ventilation.

An adjustable coupling 23a is formed between a lower end of the pedestal 14a and the plate 18a having the same form as the coupling 73 between the upper end of the pedestal 14a and the jaw support 16a. The coupling 84 has a ball 28 formed at a lower end of the member 32a, a socket 26 formed in the base 18a and a screw cap 90 that screws over the ball 28 and onto a threaded formed about a bass portion of the plate 18a provided with the socket 26.

The plate 18a is depicted with a plurality of slots 92a and 92b for receiving one or more straps of a load transfer system. Load transfer system may be in the form of the body strap arrangement 61 shown in the earlier embodiments. However the load transfer system may alternately take the form of a harness 94 shown in Figures 7a and 7b. The harness 94 comprises shoulder straps 96 together with a torso strap 98. The shoulder straps 96 are connected to the plate 18a through the slots 92a, while opposite ends of the torso strap 98 are attached to the plate 18a through the slots 92b. The straps 96 and 98 are attached to each other together in a region which would lie adjacent the back of the person using the support 10a.

Figures 8 and 9 show an alternative form of the coupling 45x that couples the pedestal 14 to the jaw support 16. The coupling 45x differs from the coupling 45a of Figure 6b by the formation of a plurality of recesses 100 on the pedestal 14, and in particular the ball 50; and at least one (and in this embodiment only one) protrusion 102 formed on the inside surface of the socket 26 of the jaw support 16. The protrusion(s)102 are configured to seat in respective recesses 100. A locking mechanism formed by a screw cup 78 that engages the thread 75 about the socket 26, enables the locking of the protrusion 102 in a respective recess 100 to maintain a selected juxtaposition of the jaw support 16 and the pedestal 14. Of course by loosening and tightening the locking mechanism a person is able to change or otherwise adjust this juxtaposition.

In yet a further variation which is not shown the coupling 23a of the embodiment shown in Figures 6a - 7b can be replaced with a coupling of the same type as coupling 45x.

Instead of the variation mentioned immediately above the coupling 23, 23a can be replaced with a quick release coupling 23x depicted in Figures 10a and 10b. The quick release coupling 23x includes a T-piece 104 formed at a lowermost end of the pedestal 14 which snaps or clicks into and out of a complimentary recess 106 formed in the base 18. The provision of the quick release coupling 23x enables for example a user to quickly and easily disconnect the pedestal 14 and jaw support 16 as a single unit from the base 18. This may be beneficial for example when using the support 10 while sleeping on an aircraft and then waking to go to the bathroom or simply have a walk and stretch their legs. In such situations it is believed convenient to disconnect the pedestal 14 from the base 18 in as simple a way as possible. In particular the quick release coupling 23x would enable a person to disconnect the pedestal 14 from the base 18 by using one hand only; and without the need for any tools such as a screwdriver or spanner. It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that numerous variations and/or modifications may be made to the invention as shown in the specific embodiments without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention as broadly described. The present embodiments are, therefore, to be considered in all respects as illustrative and not restrictive.

For example, for each of the embodiments couplings 23, 45, 23a, 45a, 23x can be provided in an inverse orientation whereby the sockets 26, 48 are respectively formed on the base shaft 32 and the top shaft 36 while the balls 28, 50 are formed on the plate 18 and the jaw plate 58. Also, the base and top shafts 32, 36 can be inversed with the sleeve 34. Furthermore, the locking mechanism can include a threaded knob that can be screwed into frictional engagement with the base shaft 32 to lock the sleeve 34 at the desired extension length. Yet further, the ball-and-socket joints 24, 46 can be

interchanged by respective hinges allowing forward-rearward tilting and side-side swivelling being equivalent to the movement permitted by the ball-and-socket joints 24, 46. In yet another embodiment the ratchet teeth 42 and pawl 44 can be squared off to form locking teeth to prevent sliding of the pawl 44 over the ratchet teeth so that the locking mechanism 40 is sturdier. In such case the pawl 44 will need to be disengaged from the locking teeth to both lengthen and shorten the pedestal 14. Also the spring clip 23X may take configurations other than the depicted T-shaped, for example the spring clip 23X may be in the form of a plastic buckle clip in which the end of the member 32 is formed with formed prongs that can be sprung inwardly by pressure to release from a buckle body that is formed or otherwise carried by the plate 18. Additionally the embodiment of the head support 10a, in which the members 32 and 34 are connected together by elementary screw threads, may also be provided with a damping system for example by the provision of a spring between the ball 50 and the beginning of the tubular portion having the internal screw thread 72. This will of course require that the member 34 be made of a number of pieces that can be coupled together in between which the spring can act similar to that depicted in Figure 4.

Clearly various parts of the head support irrespective of the specific embodiment can be made of different size to accommodate different users. For example the jaw support 16 may be made in a range of different sizes to which can be interchanged and coupled to the same pedestal 14 to enable use by young children, children in their early teens, and adults. The ability to enable the interchanging of jaw supports for people of different sizes can also be achieved in a slightly different way by forming the jaw support as a base and one of a plurality of interchangeable inserts, wherein each insert is demountably connectable to the base to enable accommodation of people of different jaw size. The jaw support base is a structure that is coupled to the pedestal in the same way as described hereinabove in relation to the earlier embodiments. The jaw support base is arranged to connect in and connect out inserts of different size to suit jaws (i.e. people) of different size. The inserts may also be made from a malleable material so that they can be contoured to the specific shape of the user's jaw and/or for comfort. Similarly although the load transfer systems have a degree of adjustability by virtue of their straps, it is also possible to provide load transfer systems in a range of different sizes to accommodate people of different size.

In yet a further variation which is possible amongst all embodiments of the disclosed head support the base 12 can be permanently attached to the pedestal 14 and the second coupling 23 and then be formed to enable the quick release connection with the load transfer system is in the form of the body strap 61 , the harness 94, or the simple neck strap (which is described above but not illustrated). Thus for example with reference to Figure 7a instead of the second coupling 23a being in the form of a ball and socket joint the end of the second member 32a can be formed integrally with the base 12 and rather than the slots 92a, 92b in the base 12, the base can be formed with four buckle clip bodies for receiving a respective buckle clip prong members each attached to respective ends of the straps 96 and 98. Moreover in embodiments where the pedestal 14 and the base 12 are permanently formed coupled together form an integral unit the second coupling may take the form of the hook and loop material along a length of the straps of the load transfer system that can loop through slots in the base 12. Thus the quick release is achieved by separating, by hand, otherwise engaged hook and loop material on each of the straps of the load transfer system.

Additionally in some embodiments of the head support the load transfer system may be provided with a neck strap in addition to or instead of the body strap arrangement 61 or the harness 94. The neck strap would be attached to the base 12/plate 18 and bear on the back of the person's neck. Thus load would be transferred in whole or part on the neck of the person.

In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word "comprise" or variations such as "comprises" or "comprising" is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.