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Title:
HEADPIECE WITH PASSAGE FOR AIR AND LIKE GASES
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2011/091503
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparatus to provide gases to be inhaled by a user wearing the apparatus has a headpiece having an inner surface configured to fit the user's head, and a smooth outer surface. An inner conduit extends between the inner surface and the outer surface from an upper input end of the inner conduit at a top of the headpiece to a lower output end of the inner conduit that is adjacent to the user's nose when the headpiece is in place. A connector at the top of the headpiece is operative to connect an external gas supply conduit to the upper input end of the inner conduit. The headpiece is configured such that movement of the user's head relative to the lower output end of the inner conduit is restricted.

Inventors:
ERICKSON, Len (Box 898, Outlook, Saskatchewan S0L 1N0, CA)
Application Number:
CA2010/001661
Publication Date:
August 04, 2011
Filing Date:
October 19, 2010
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
ERICKSON, Len (Box 898, Outlook, Saskatchewan S0L 1N0, CA)
International Classes:
A62B7/00; A61M1/00; A62B18/00
Domestic Patent References:
2005-10-27
Foreign References:
US20070181135A12007-08-09
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
FURMAN, Cory (1500 - 1874 Scarth Street, Regina, Saskatchewan S4P 4E9, CA)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

What is claimed is:

1. An apparatus to provide gases to be inhaled by a user wearing the apparatus, the apparatus comprising: a headpiece with an inner surface configured to fit the user's head and a smooth outer surface; an inner conduit extending between the inner surface and the outer surface from an upper input end of the inner conduit at a top of the headpiece to a lower output end of the inner conduit that is adjacent to the user's nose when the headpiece is in place; a connector at the top of the headpiece operative to connect an external gas supply conduit to the upper input end of the inner conduit; wherein the headpiece is configured such that movement of the user's head relative to the lower output end of the inner conduit is restricted.

2. The apparatus of claim 1 wherein the connector is a swivel connector operative to allow an attached external gas supply conduit to rotate about a longitudinal axis of the external gas supply conduit with respect to the headpiece.

3. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the longitudinal axis of the external gas supply conduit at the swivel connector is substantially aligned with a longitudinal axis of a user wearing the apparatus.

4. The apparatus of claim 2 wherein the swivel connector is operative to allow the external gas supply conduit to pivot laterally with respect to the headpiece. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 4 wherein the headpiece comprises an outer shell made from a plastic material.

The apparatus of claim 5 wherein the plastic material is one of rigid plastic material, semi-rigid plastic material, and flexible plastic material.

The apparatus of claim 6 wherein the lower output end of the inner conduit is attached to right and left portions of the headpiece located on corresponding right and left sides of the user's face to restrict movement of the user's head relative to the lower output end of the inner conduit.

The apparatus of claim 7 wherein the lower output end of the inner conduit comprises a cross conduit extending between the right and left sides of the user's face under the user's nose when the headpiece is in place and wherein the cross conduit defines right and left nostril apertures oriented substantially under corresponding right and left nostrils when the headpiece is in place.

The apparatus of claim 8 wherein the lower output end of the inner conduit is attached to the headpiece at a location adjacent to the user's nose when the headpiece is in place; and wherein the headpiece includes a strap operative to restrict movement of the user's head relative to the lower output end of the inner conduit.

The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 9 further comprising right and left nostril inserts configured to be inserted into the user's right and left nostrils, the inserts connected to the lower output end of the inner conduit and configured to convey pressurized air from the inner conduit into the user's nostrils. The apparatus of claim 10 further comprising a chin strap operative to substantially prevent the user's mouth from opening when the headpiece is in place.

The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 9 wherein the lower output end of the inner conduit comprises a nose vent located adjacent to the user's nose when the headpiece is in place and further comprises a mouth vent located adjacent to the user's mouth when the headpiece is in place.

The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 12 further comprising a mask covering a front face opening of the headpiece.

The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 13 wherein the headpiece comprises an outer shell and an inner shell and wherein the inner conduit is provided by a hollow space between the inner and outer shells.

The apparatus of claim 14 wherein the headpiece is configured such that the inner shell can be removed from the outer shell.

The apparatus of claim 15 wherein the inner shell comprises an inner fabric layer and an outer fabric layer, and wherein the inner conduit extends between the inner and outer fabric layers.

The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 16 wherein the headpiece defines at least one venting aperture.

The apparatus of claim 17 wherein the headpiece comprises an inner shell defining at least one inner shell venting aperture and an outer shell defining at least one outer shell venting aperture wherein the at least one inner shell venting aperture is substantially aligned with the at least one outer shell venting aperture. 19. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 18 wherein the lower output end of the inner conduit is biased toward a user's face when the headpiece is in place.

20. The apparatus of any one of claims 1 - 19 comprising a decorative marking on the outer surface of the headpiece.

Description:
HEADPIECE WITH PASSAGE FOR AIR AND LIKE GASES

This invention is in the field of systems to provide air and other gases such as oxygen to a person, and in particular an apparatus to connect a supply of a desired gas to an outlet adjacent to a person's nose and mouth.

BACKGROUND

Various medical disorders can occur which require that various gases, such as oxygen or pressurized air, must be provided adjacent to or directly into a user's nose or mouth.

Sleep apnea for example is a common disorder in which an individual has one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while they sleep. A frequently used treatment for sleep apnea is positive airway pressure (PAP), primarily continuous PAP (CPAP). In this therapy, a CPAP apparatus consisting of an airflow generator, a flexible hose and a mask is attached to the sufferer during sleep. The air must be delivered to the user's nostrils under pressure, so the mask must fit tightly enough to allow pressure to be generated under the mask at the user's nostrils. The mask is held in place by straps extending around the user's head, and typically a supply hose from the airflow generator connects directly to the mask. Such a mask is made by Hans Rudolph of Shawnee, KS, USA.

Rather than using a mask, some CPAP devices instead include inserts that fit into the user's nostrils and are held in place by straps. The inserts engage the nostrils tightly enough to allow pressure to be generated inside the user's nostrils, and the pressurized air is delivered to the inserts by a supply hose from the airflow generator.

Such arrangements are quite uncomfortable to wear, and also during normal movement while the user is sleeping the supply hose extending from the mask or inserts can become tangled and the straps can be dislodged. In another type of CPAP apparatus tubes extend from the nostril inserts up along the sides of the user's face to a connector at the top of the user's head where the supply hose is connected. The side tubes and inserts are again held in place with straps. In this arrangement user can roll over without tangling the supply hose the supply hose, but the straps must be quite tight to maintain everything in position. This apparatus is again quite uncomfortable to wear and the exposed tubes and straps can be dislodged during sleep movement. Such an apparatus is made by ResMed Corp. of San Diego CA.

It is also well know to provide oxygen adjacent to a user's nose or mouth. It is not usually required that the oxygen be directed into the user under pressure, and so typically a gas outlet is simply held in place near the nose and the user breathes a mixture of ambient air enriched by the oxygen. A mask can be used that has holes therein to provide a mixture of air and oxygen, or a tube outlet is simply positioned near the user's nose and held in place by hanging on the user's ears. Again these mask and tube arrangements can be uncomfortable and be easily dislodged. Other gases, such as aerosol medications, may also be delivered to a user by similar means.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

It is an object of the present invention to provide an apparatus to provide gases to be inhaled by a user that overcomes problems in the prior art.

The present invention provides an apparatus to provide gases to be inhaled by a user wearing the apparatus. The apparatus has a headpiece having an inner surface configured to fit the user's head, and a smooth outer surface. An inner conduit extends between the inner surface and the outer surface from an upper input end of the inner conduit at a top of the headpiece to a lower output end of the inner conduit that is adjacent to the user's nose when the headpiece is in place. A connector at the top of the headpiece is operative to connect an external gas supply conduit to the upper input end of the inner conduit. The headpiece is configured such that movement of the user's head relative to the lower output end of the inner conduit is restricted. Thus the lower output end is held in close proximity, and able to convey oxygen or other desired gases, to the user, while remaining comfortable for the user. For example pressurized air for treatment of sleep apnea can be directed directly into the user's nostrils. The headpiece furthermore does not restrict movement of the user while wearing the headpiece, as the smooth outer shell does not get caught on fabrics and the like, and the connector at the top of the headpiece allows external gas supply conduits to remain out of the way of a user when turning and laying down.

DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

While the invention is claimed in the concluding portions hereof, preferred embodiments are provided in the accompanying detailed description which may be best understood in conjunction with the accompanying diagrams where like parts in each of the several diagrams are labeled with like numbers, and where:

Fig. 1 is a side view of a continuous positive airway pressure device of the prior art on a user;

Fig. 2 is a perspective view of the continuous positive airway pressure device of figure 1;

Fig. 3 is a perspective view of another continuous positive airway pressure device of the prior art;

Fig. 4A is a side view of an embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention, as shown on a user;

Fig. 4B is a front view of the apparatus of Fig. 4A, as shown on a user; Fig. 5 is a schematic sectional view of the apparatus of Fig. 4A showing the inner conduit provided by a space between the inner and outer surfaces;

Fig. 6 is a cross-sectional view of an alternate embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention, as shown on a user showing the inner conduit provided by a tube;

Fig. 7 is a cross-sectional view of the headpiece shown in Fig. 6, as shown on a user laying down;

Fig. 8 is a front view of a further alternate embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention with nostril inserts, as shown on a user;

Fig. 9 is a front view of a further alternate embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention with a vented headpiece, as shown on a user;

Fig. 10 is a schematic sectional view of an alternate inner shell for use with the present invention;

Fig. 11 is a front view of a further alternate embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention with a mask, as shown on a user; and

Fig. 12 is a front view of a further alternate embodiment of an apparatus of the present invention with a decorative marking, as shown on a user.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATED EMBODIMENTS

Figs. 1 - 2 illustrate prior art continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for providing pressurized air to a user for relief of sleep apnea. The mask 1 of Figs. 1 and 2 is held in place by straps 3 extending around the user's head, and a supply hose 5 from an airflow generator (not illustrated) connects directly to the mask 1. Fig. 3 illustrates a different type of CPAP device where, instead of a mask sealed to the user's face, inserts 7 fit into the user's nostrils and are held in place by straps 9. In the illustrated device of Fig. 3, tubes 1 1 extend from the nostril inserts 7 up along the sides of the user's face to a connector 13 at the top of the user's head where the supply hose is connected. The side tubes 11 and inserts 7 are held in place with the straps 9. In this arrangement the user can roll over without tangling the supply hose, but the straps 9 must be quite tight to maintain everything in position.

The prior art devices of Figs. 1 - 3 are quite uncomfortable to wear and subject to being tangled or dislodged.

Figs. 4A, 4B, and 5 schematically illustrate an embodiment of an apparatus 20 of the present invention to provide gases to be inhaled by a user wearing the apparatus 20. The apparatus 20 comprises a headpiece 21 comprising an inner surface 31 configured to fit the user's head 25, and a smooth outer surface 33.

An inner conduit 29 extends between the inner surface 31 and the outer surface 33 from an upper input end 35 of the inner conduit 29 at a top of the headpiece 21 to a lower output end 37 of the inner conduit 29 that is adjacent to the user's nose 39 when the headpiece 21 is in place as shown in Figs. 4A, 4B, and 5. A connector 43 at the top of the headpiece 21 is operative to connect an external gas supply conduit 45 to the upper input end 35 of the inner conduit 29.

As illustrated in Fig. 4B, the lower output end 37 of the inner conduit 29 comprises a nose vent 40 located adjacent to the user's nose 39 when the headpiece 21 is in place. In this embodiment, the lower output end 37 of the inner conduit 29 is adjacent to the user's nose 39 for oxygen or other gases to be vented in proximity to the user's nose 39, but are not inserted into the user's nose. The lower output end 37 could further comprise a mouth vent 42 located adjacent to the user's mouth when the headpiece 21 is in place, as illustrated in Fig. 5. It is also contemplated within the scope of the invention that the lower output end 37 of the inner conduit 29 comprising a nose vent 40 and/or a mouth vent 42 could be biased toward a user's face when the headpiece 21 is in place through any type of biasing means such as a spring or the like. In this way, the nose vent 40 and/or mouth vent 42 are held firmly in position against the user's face.

In the apparatus 20 shown in Fig. 5, the headpiece comprises an inner shell 23 with the inner surface 31 configured to fit the user's head 25 and an outer shell 27 with the smooth outer surface 33. The outer shell 27 could be made from any suitable material, such as a plastic material which is rigid, semi-rigid, or flexible. The inner conduit is provided by a hollow space 41 between the inner and outer shells 23, 27.

Fig. 6 schematically illustrates an alternate apparatus 120 wherein the inner conduit 129 is provided by a tube 141. The illustrated headpiece 121 is similar to a bike helmet, with a hard plastic outer shell and a foam padded inner shell and the inner conduit 129 is buried in the foam padded inner shell.

A connector 143 at the top of the headpiece 121 is operative to connect an external gas supply conduit 145 to the upper input end 135 of the inner conduit 129.

Illustrated in Fig. 7, connector 143 is a swivel connector operative to allow the attached external gas supply conduit 145 to rotate about its longitudinal axis LA with respect to the outer headpiece 121. Also in the illustrated apparatus 120, the longitudinal axis LA of the external gas supply conduit 145 at the swivel connector 143 is generally aligned with the longitudinal axis of the person wearing the apparatus 20, so that the person can roll over while sleeping while the external gas supply conduit 145 rotates with respect to the connector 143 and headpiece 121, and so remains stationary. Fig. 7 shows the user lying down and the nominal longitudinal axis of the user generally aligned with the longitudinal axis LA of the external gas supply conduit 145. Normally when a person sleeps, the top of their head is near or up against a wall, headboard, or the like. The external gas supply conduit 145 shown in Fig. 7, while allowed to rotate about its longitudinal axis near the connector 143, also is bent, pliable, or otherwise able to take a substantially right-turn in a direction away from the longitudinal axis of the supply conduit 145 near the connector 143 so as to avoid hitting the wall, headboard, or the like near the top of the user's head.

As schematically shown in Fig. 4A, it is also contemplated that the swivel connector 43 could also allow the external gas supply conduit 145 to pivot laterally with respect to the headpiece 21.

The headpiece 21 , 121 is configured such that movement of the user's head 25 relative to the lower output end 37, 137 of the inner conduit 29, 129 is restricted. For example, as shown in Figs. 4B and 5, a strap 57 is attached to right and left portions of the headpiece 21 located on corresponding right and left sides of the user's face to restrict movement of the user's head 25 relative to the lower output end 37 of the inner conduit 29.

In the embodiment schematically illustrated in Fig. 8, the lower output end 237 of the inner conduit 229 is attached to right and left portions of the headpiece 221 located on corresponding right and left sides of the user's face to restrict movement of the user's head 25 relative to the lower output end 237 of the inner conduit (not shown). The lower output end 237 of the inner conduit comprises a cross-conduit 251 which extends between the right and left sides of the user's face under the user's nose 39 when the headpiece 221 is in place. The cross conduit 2 1 defines right and left nostril apertures 253, 255 oriented substantially under corresponding right and left nostrils when the headpiece 221 is in place. The cross conduit 251 is resilient and somewhat stretched so same exerts a bias force urging the lower output end 237 of the inner conduit against the user's face.

In the apparatus 220 of Fig. 8, right and left nostril inserts 259, 261 similar to those used in CPAP devices of the prior art are configured to be inserted into the user's right and left nostrils. The inserts 259, 261 are connected to the lower output end 237 of the inner conduit by the cross conduit 251 and are configured to convey pressurized air from the inner conduit into the user's nostrils. A chin strap 257 is provided that is operative to substantially prevent the user's mouth 281 from opening when the headpiece 221 is in place. In this way, the chin strap 257 keeps the user's mouth 281 closed such that when the nostril inserts 259, 261 are in place, positive air pressure forces the user's airway open rather than allowing air to flow out the user's mouth 281.

Fig. 9 schematically illustrates an alternate apparatus 320 that has an outer shell 327 defining at least one venting aperture 363. The inner shell 323 also defines at least one venting aperture correspondingly aligned directly beneath the at least one venting aperture 363 of the outer shell 327 so that air can pass through the headpiece 321.

It is contemplated within the scope of the invention, and is schematically shown in Fig. 10, that the inner shell 423 could comprise an inner fabric layer 467 and an outer fabric layer 469 and an inner conduit 429 extending between the inner and outer fabric layers 467, 469. The inner fabric layer 467 is selected for comfort for the user, and the headpiece 421 could be configured such that the inner shell 423 can be removed from the outer shell 427 for washing, replacement, or the like.

Figure 1 1 illustrates a further embodiment of the present invention wherein the apparatus 520 has a mask 571 covering a front face opening of the headpiece 521.

In the embodiment illustrated in Fig. 12, the apparatus 620 has a decorative marking 673 on the outer surface of the outer surface 633. It is contemplated that a user may wish to have a sports team logo or the like decorating the outer surface 633.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous changes and modifications will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all such suitable changes or modifications in structure or operation which may be resorted to are intended to fall within the scope of the claimed invention.