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Title:
MODIFIED FOOTWEAR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/003473
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A footwear system for orthotic support comprising an insole region to which is affixed one or more detachable, repositionable receptacles that accommodate orthotic and/or foot support inserts, and optionally an additional heel receptacle. The footwear system may be usable to provide foot support in closed or open footwear.

Inventors:
HUNG, Michelle (P.O. Box 1162, Cleveland, Georgia, 30528, US)
Application Number:
US2015/038711
Publication Date:
January 05, 2017
Filing Date:
June 30, 2015
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
AURORA ENTERPRISES, LLC (P.O. Box 1162, Cleveland, Georgia, 30528, US)
International Classes:
A43B13/40
Foreign References:
US20100058540A12010-03-11
US20100199526A12010-08-12
US20100050320A12010-03-04
US1797143A1931-03-17
US7210251B12007-05-01
US1017676A1912-02-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BAXAM, Deanna (Suite 400-410, 2180 Satellite BoulevardDuluth, Georgia, 30528, US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1 . A footwear system characterized by:

a. an insole having an upper surface and an under surface, the insole including i. at least one detachable, repositionable receptacle for containing an orthotic insert; wherein each said at least one receptacle comprises an upper surface and an under surface, and further wherein each said at least one receptacle can be securely attached, repositioned and detached to and from the upper surface of the insole by the user; ii. an upper; and

iii. a sole.

2. The footwear system of claim 1 further characterized by a heel receptacle for

containing a heel support insert, which is permanently affixed, integrally formed with or detachable from the upper surface of the insole.

3. The footwear system of claim 1 further characterized in that the at least one

detachable, repositionable receptacles are attached to the insole by attachment means selected from reclosable hook and loop fastener tape, snaps or adhesive strips affixed to the under surface of the first receptacle.

4. The footwear system of claims 1 or 2 further characterized in that the sole a

detachable outsole.

5. The footwear system of claim 4 further characterized by oppositely positioned lower outer attachment sleeves at the toe end and heel end of the insole, respectively, for receiving insertable arm elements of the toe end and heel end of a detachable outsole.

6. The footwear system of claims 1 or 2 wherein the receptacles are fabricated from the same or different materials selected from natural fiber materials, synthetic materials and smooth or textured surface materials, and the attachment sleeves are fabricated from fabric, rubber, plastic or other synthetic materials.

7. A hosiery article characterized by inclusion of the footwear system according to claim 1 wherein the upper and the insole are formed of a thin, flexible material such as a breathable fabric, natural fiber material or stocking sheer material.

8. A shoe characterized by the footwear system of claim 1 .

9. A slipper characterized by the footwear system of claim 1 .

10. An insole for use with closed or open backed shoes characterized by a planar

element having a planar surface that is configured to accommodate the length and width of the user's foot, the planar element being divided into a toe region, an arch region and a heel region; at least one repositionable receptacle that is attachable to and detachable from the planar surface for receiving a shoe insert; and attachment means for attaching the at least one repositionable receptacle in the arch region of the planar element.

1 1 . The insole of claim 10 further characterized by a heel receptacle formed as a pocket at the heel region of the planar element.

12. Hosiery characterized the footwear system of claims 10 or 1 1 .

13. A method of providing orthopedic foot support to a user characterized by inserting an insole according to claim 10 into a shoe to be worn by said user.

14. A method of providing orthopedic foot support to a user characterized by inserting a footwear system according to claims 1 , 2 or 4 into a shoe to be worn by said user.

Description:
MODIFIED FOOTWEAR

TECHNICAL FIELD

{0001} The invention disclosed in this application pertains to the field of modified footwear worn by persons desiring orthopedic foot support. In particular, the invention is relevant to footwear which can be electively modified in one or more ways to fit the specific contours of the wearer's feet. The modification is accomplished by means of positionable and repositionable attachments that hold orthotic or other foot support inserts in place at various positions within the footwear to provide customized support.

BACKGROUND

{0002} Shoes were first created as an expedient comfort to protect the feet, and initially their construction was rudimentary, with shoes for both feet being identical and basic in design. They eventually became a status symbol, and as the shoe evolved, comfort became more of a focus. The advent of molded thermoplastics in the 1960's enabled molding of materials that conformed to the shape of the foot. The introduction of molded thermoplastic shoe portions led to development of making shoe forms using molded materials instead of using a last, as was conventional. In this respect, healthcare professionals realized a mold or a cast could be used to replicate the shape of a patient's foot to create orthotic foot supports.

{0003} An average, healthy person takes about 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day, which adds up to about 1 15,000 miles in a lifetime. The feet, which are primary load bearing parts of the human anatomy, carry the weight of the body when it is vertically erect. The human foot is a complex mechanical structure consisting of bones, muscles, joints, ligaments and nerves that supports the entire weight of the body, absorbs impacts and shocks and helps the body to maintain balance and move forward and backwards. About 75% percent of people worldwide will suffer from foot pain at some point during their lifespan. Persons seeking relief l from foot discomfort are led to implement the use of foot supports, such as arch supports, toe cushions and heel cushions in non-prescription footwear. This is because the availability of prescription footwear is limited in style and functionality, and it is often prohibitively expensive without health insurance coverage. In addition, prescription footwear is often perceived to be unattractive. Prescription orthotic footwear is also heavy and bulky. This type of footwear and even traditional slippers without any foot supports are typically not washable. Available information indicates that only 17 of 1 16 surveyed pairs of women's slippers are labeled as machine washable. Further, conventional shoe inserts such as insoles that employ adhesives become ineffectual when the adhesive wears out, because the insert cannot be held in place and instead may buckle, crease and be crumpled in the shoe.

{0004} Accordingly, consumers have purchased off-the-shelf shoe insert devices as

described above to provide the same type of structural support as would be provided by prescription shoes. A significant drawback of these mass-produced products is that they are contoured to fit a general foot size and shape rather than the particular dimensions of individual feet, such as may for example be caused by longer toes or a shorter heel of the user. Even orthotic shoes, which are formed according to the dimensions of the user's feet, have fixed configurations for the support and are not additionally customizable to provide any other relief that may temporarily be needed, or to allow the user to self-adjust any feature. Further, shoe inserts may not be as readily usable with open-backed or open-toed footwear such as flip flops or sandals.

{0005} There is a need in the art for functional women's slippers, for example house or bedroom slippers, that provide adequate support for wearers who are experiencing foot pain or who are in need of foot corrective devices. Additionally, very few traditional slippers have good durability after machine washing and drying. Usually, because they are made of soft and pliable materials, they become deformed after the first wash, and after a few additional washes the slippers begin to fall apart. There is therefore a further need for functional slippers that can provide foot support and which are also machine washable and dryable, and also durable. Such functional slippers should also be lightweight, packable and environmentally friendly. A budget-friendly alternative to expensive custom orthotic footwear is also desirable.

{0006} There are different types of devices that may be inserted into shoes. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, shoe inserts are any kind of non-prescription foot support designed to be worn inside a shoe. Shoe inserts include arch supports, insoles, heel supports and foot cushions. Orthotics are prescription shoe inserts that provide support or bracing to a patient's foot structure. Shoe inserts are typically bought off the shelf and not customized to the specific contours of the wearer's foot. Some orthotics may also be fashioned according to a general conformation based on the wearer's shoe size.

{0007} Up until the creation of the instant invention there has also not existed a

commercially marketed footwear configuration that provides for adjustment of the placement of shoe inserts or orthotics such as arch supports according to the wearer's foot shape as well as size and heel while at the same time providing that these devices are fixed in place and not simply dropped into a shoe. There also has existed a need in the art for removable shoe inserts and orthotics that can be worn with a variety of footwear such as slippers and sandals, mules, clogs or other open backed or open-toed shoes as well as hosiery items.

SUMMARY OF INVENTION

{0008} The invention comprises a footwear system that may be used to provide orthotic or orthopedic foot support for the user by means of a customized insole portion that includes one or more receptacles for receiving one or more orthotic inserts. In certain embodiments, there is included at least one detachable, repositionable receptacle, the position of which may be changed in relation to the surface of the insole at the preference or discretion of the wearer for receiving an orthotic insert as defined herein. The invention allows users seeking relief from foot discomfort to customize and securely fix the position of the one or more shoe inserts in a regular, non-orthotic shoe. The invention further provides a means by which users may securely position a heel insert into the heel portion of a shoe to provide support to the hindfoot.

{0009} The modified footwear of the invention is usable with open or closed shoes. The footwear system may comprise various embodiments, including but not limited to an insole featuring at least one repositionable receptacle for an orthotic insert(s), a slipper for indoor wear which may be further modified with a detachable outsole for external wear, a sandal for general wear (indoor and outdoor), a shoe into which a soft soled slipper is inserted, hosiery embodiments which may be worn in the same manner as conventional hosiery while uniquely providing orthotic support according to the invention, various other embodiments and representations as may be contemplated by a person of ordinary skill in the art, given the instant disclosure.

{0010} In one aspect, a footwear system according to the invention comprises an insole having an upper surface and an under surface, the insole including at least one, detachable, repositionable receptacle for containing an orthotic foot support insert which is securely affixed to the upper surface of the insole; wherein said at least one detachable,

repositionable receptacle comprises an upper surface and an under surface, and further wherein said first receptacle can be attached, detached and repositioned as desired by the user by affixing the under surface thereof to the upper surface of the insole. The at least one receptacle may be of different shapes, sizes and configurations. In this respect, one such repositionable receptacle may be attachable and detachable from the arch region of the insole, while another may be attachable and detachable from the area corresponding to the metatarsal region of the user's foot (ball of foot). More than one type of receptacles may be attached to the insole according to the invention. {0011} In another aspect of the invention, the repositionable arch support receptacle with or without an additional heel support receptacle is incorporated into a slipper (e.g. a flip flop), sandal or shoe. The heel support receptacle may be permanently attached to the upper surface of the insole or it may also be detachable and repositionable.

{0012} In yet another aspect, the invention comprises hosiery, such as socks or stockings, into which are incorporated receptacles, including repositionable receptacles, for holding arch supports and heel supports.

{0013} The invention further comprises methods of providing orthopedic foot support to a user by inserting a footwear system or insole of the invention in a slipper, sandal, shoe or other footwear to be worn by the user. An exemplary method includes inserting an insole according to the invention into a conventional shoe to facilitate place of orthotic inserts, as defined herein, within the shoe. This method may be used by consumers or prescribed by orthopedists or podiatrists to provide further customization for patients to alleviate foot discomfort or pain. By allowing traditional comfort footwear of almost any design to be modified in various parts of the shoe foot bed as may be required by the user, the invention provides users with relief from a variety of foot conditions, including but not limited to fallen arches (pies planus), plantar fasciitis, heel pain, ball of foot pain, heel spurs, Achilles tendonitis, overprotonation, high arches, generalized foot pain, diabetic foot pain or sensitivity and knee pain. The user is able to achieve the desired foot support using their conventional footwear, including traditional comfort footwear.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS

{0014} Fig. 1 is an exploded perspective view of a footwear system according to one

embodiment of the invention showing the placement of a heel receptacle for insertion of an orthotic heel insert, and a repositionable receptacle for an arch insert. {0015} Fig. 2 is a perspective view of a footwear system of the invention in relation to the foot of a user.

{0016} Fig. 3 is a perspective, exploded view of a slipper of the invention showing an insole with an attached heel receptacle and a repositionable arch receptacle, and further showing lower attachment sleeves on the underside of the insole for attachment to a detachable sole. {0017} Fig. 4 is a perspective view of an assembled slipper with an upper and insole, the underside of which is modified according to the invention, in which the lower attachment sleeves are formed as bilaterally open-ended attachment means.

{0018} Fig. 5 is a perspective view of an orthotic slipper according to an embodiment of the invention which is inserted into a clog-style shoe.

{0019} Fig. 6 is an orthotic insole embodiment of the invention which includes a heel

receptacle and a repositionable arch receptacle into which is inserted an arch support insert..

{0020} Figs. 7A and 7B are hosiery embodiments of the invention having the arch and heel support assemblies therein.

{0021} Figs. 8A and 8B are drawn to embodiments of the invention comprised of a heel receptacle, arch receptacle and metatarsal/ ball of foot receptacle, each for receiving shoe inserts.

{0022} Fig. 9 is a perspective view of a footwear system of the invention that includes open- ended attachment sleeves for receiving an detachable outsole.

{0023} Figs. 10A and 10B are black and white photographs of embodiments of the invention that show repositionable receptacles attached to the heel, arch and metatarsal regions with and without foot support inserts carried therein.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENTS

{0024} As used in this description, the term "orthotic insert" means non-prescription foot inserts and/or orthotics that provide support to the foot forefoot, arch region and/or hindfoot. According to the various embodiments of the invention, modified footwear in the form of a slipper 150, as shown in Fig. 1 , comprises an insole 1 , an upper 7, and a repositionable arch receptacle 2. An open-ended heel receptacle 5 having the opening oriented toward the midsole of the insole 1 is further provided, into which may be inserted a heel insert 6. In this embodiment the modified footwear system is incorporated into a slipper, such as a house or bedroom slipper. When the receptacles 2 and 5 are securely positioned on and affixed to the surface of the insole they hold the inserted orthotics in place so they cannot move around when the user's foot is inserted, even though the back of the slipper is open (Fig. 2). The heel receptacle may be fixed in place, for example by sewing or being integrally molded with the insole, or it may be fully detachable and repositionable. The embodiments of Figs. 1 and 2 can for example be cloth slippers suitable for house wear. They are made of one or more fabrics and are lightweight, easy to wash and dry and packable, while at the same time having the ability to accommodate, support and fixedly retain insoles inserted into the receptacles therein. In this manner, house slippers, which typically do not provide relief, and which even exacerbate foot conditions because of their traditional lack of support, can be augmented in a novel way to provide support and pain relief. A further advantage of the invention with respect to slippers and sandals is that the repositionable receptacles may be easily inserted and removed because those footwear are characterized by an open vamp. In this respect, it is easier to customize the position of the receptacles. 5} In the embodiment of Fig. 3, the repositionable receptacle 2 is secured to the surface of the insole by removable attachment means 3a and 3b. In a preferred embodiment the attachment means are strips of reclosable hook and loop tape, such as is marketed for example under the brand name, VELCRO™. In alternative embodiments, adhesive strips such as stretch releasing adhesive strips sold under the brand name COMMAND™ by the 3M Innovative Properties Company, or other clean release adhesive may be used to secure the arch and/or heel receptacles. Alternative, the heel receptacle may be sewn or molded onto the surface of the heel area of the insole 1 .

{0026} Fig.3 further provides an exploded view of an assembly of an embodiment in which the slipper or soft-soled footwear comprising the repositionable receptacles may be attached to a detachable sole 1 1 . In this respect, lower attachment sleeve 8 is attached to the underside of the insole 1 at the front or forefoot region thereof, thereby providing a sleeve opening oriented toward the midsection of the sole. Similarly, lower attachment sleeve 9 is attached at the heel or hindfoot area of the insole 1 . It should be noted that while in the figure the attachment sleeves are attached to the underside of the insole, they may similarly be attached to a midsole layer 18 between the insole and the sole, as is depicted in Fig. 4. Also as shown in Fig. 9, each attachment sleeve may be open at both ends and attached to the midsole (or insole, in other embodiments) at the midsection thereof. In certain embodiments, attachment sleeves may be open-ended (shown as elements 16, 17) to allow for attachment of an outsole inserted through the sleeves from one direction or another.

{0027} The lower attachment sleeves 8 and 9 (or 16, 17) may be cooperatively attached to a detachable outsole 1 1 (Figs. 3,4). For example, the outsole may be a hard sole, such as that of a sandal or shoe. This type of sole may be made of any suitable material suitable for protecting the soles of the feet from external injury or impact, and for maintaining the structural integrity of the shoe, including without limitation, rubber, cork, leather, thermoplastics or other synthetic materials. The outsole may be waterproof. The detachable outsole 1 1 may be of a flatter style, i.e. a substantially horizontal configuration, or a heeled style, and it is preferably suitable for outdoor wear. The outsole 1 1 may also be an athletic sole or any other form of sole that might be selected for specialty footwear. The detachable outsole 1 1 comprises insertion slots 12 and 13 in the forefoot and hindfoot (heel) regions thereof, respectively. The upper, insole and midsole are attached to the outsole 1 1 by insertion of the lower attachment sleeves 8 and 9 into the insertion slots 12 and 13, respectively. By attaching to an outsole as is described, soft-soled footwear such as a bedroom slipper which contains the insole with repositionable receptacles of the invention may be attached to a hardier, more durable outsole, for example for outside wear. If the outsole is made of a waterproof material it can be washed or hosed off as needed and air dried. In this way a single footwear system of the invention may be modified to provide footwear for a different purpose without the user being required to purchase and install separate orthotic footwear systems for each type of shoe. Additionally, when the soft-soled footwear, for example a cloth house slipper, becomes worn, it may be disposed of without having to dispose of the entire shoe. The soles may be retained for use with another pair of cloth slippers. This eliminates solid waste and allows for recycling of a percentage of the shoe's parts.

{0028} The receptacles 2 and 5 may be constructed from the same material as the insole or the upper, or they may be made from a fabric material, for example breathable or moisture- wicking fabric, such cotton or terrycloth. Alternatively, the receptacles may be formed from thermoformable materials or from rubber. In preferred embodiments, the insole and upper are made from biodegradable fabric. The arch receptacle 2 is repositionable, while the open-ended heel receptacle 5 may be repositionable or in various embodiments it may be permanently affixed to the surface of the insole. As shown in Figs. 8A and 8B, a further embodiment of the invention comprises an insole that includes an additional detachable and repositionable metatarsal receptacle in the foot bed region to accommodate an insert, such as metatarsal pads that cushion the ball of the foot.

{0029} As depicted in Fig. 5 a soft-soled embodiment of the invention 100 as shown in Figs.

1 or 2 is insertable into a conventional shoe 200 such as a clog or mule. In this manner the orthotic support provided by the novel and inventive aspects of the invention may be included, for example, in a backless shoe. Similarly, the soft-soled embodiment may be inserted into a closed shoe, boot or sneaker. It should be understood that slipper or insertable footwear embodiments of the invention are not limited to soft soles, for example fabric soles, but the sole of the footwear that inserts into another shoe may be of less flexible material and construction as well.

{0030} The invention may also be manufactured and sold as a separate insole which can be inserted into any shoe according to the size of the insole, as in Fig. 6. The one or more repositionable receptacles can be used to accurately position the arch, metatarsal (shown in Figs. 8A, 8B) and heel receptacles according to the contours of the customer's foot when the insole is inserted in the shoe.

{0031} Figs. 7A and 7B show hosiery embodiments of the invention in which receptacles 2, 5 are attached within hosiery apparel 300, 301 , for example a sock or stocking. The fabric may be thin or transparent, such as a stocking sheer material used for stockings or pantyhose, or it may be made of knit or woven material, provided that the fabric is sufficiently durable to allow attachment of the receptacles without damage to the fabric. In these embodiments the receptacles may alternately be fixed in the stocking for, for example by being fused or woven in. The hosiery of the invention may be worn by the user with open shoes while still providing the foot support benefits from the orthotic inserts.

{0032} The upper of the shoe configurations of the invention may vary in shape and may be constructed of materials such as fabric, leather, woven natural materials or synthetic materials. Figs. 10A and 10B depict an embodiment of the invention in which the upper is a vamp composed of two segments that may be folded and attached together, for example by buttons, snaps or reclosable hook and loop fastener tape. The segmented vamp allows for easy placement of the repositionable receptacles on the upper surface of the insole and also for easy insertion of the orthotic inserts into the repositionable receptacles and the optionally repositionable heel receptacle. One or more repositionable receptacles may be fitted with orthotic inserts, as shown. The right foot of each pair shows the inserted orthotic. {0033} The products of the invention, namely the insoles, slippers, shoes or hosiery, may be sold with or without orthotic inserts. In this regard, a user may change or replace the orthotic without having to dispose of the entire insole, or to reorder the entire shoe. The footwear of the invention allow for continued use of traditional adhesive-backed inserts even after the adhesive has worn away because the insert can be held in the desired fixed position when inserted into the receptacles according to a method of the invention.

{0034} It should be understood that the shapes and dimensions of the receptacles described herein and depicted in the figures are not limited by the present description or said figures.

{0035} In a method of use, footwear or the insole purchased according to embodiments of the invention may be customized first by adjusting the placement of the repositionable receptacles in the arch region and at the heel. Then, further custom fitting may be achieved by changing the size, shape and function of the orthotic insert. In other applications of use, the repositionable receptacles may be attached and repositioned on the insole or the sole portion of the hosiery of the invention.

INDUSTRIAL APPLICABILITY

{0036} Various types of footwear can either be created or modified according to the various embodiments of the invention described herein and other embodiments representing the inventive concepts set forth herein that would be readily envisioned by a person of ordinary skill in the art. The modified footwear of the invention can be used in many applications, including but not limited to casual footwear, bedroom slippers, hosiery, thin shoe liner footwear, and insoles for insertion into shoes, sandals or boots. Military applications are possible, for example allowing for providing customized foot support in standard issue military footwear to correct orthopedic issues such as overprotonation, which can impede physical performance. Similarly, professionals who are required to stand, walk or run for long periods, such as nurses, physicians and factory workers, recreational hikers and runners, may benefit from various applications of the invention. 7} The footwear systems of the invention further are environmentally efficient by reducing disposable waste.