LUCAS, Timothy John (39 Main Street, Newbold-on-AvonRugby, Warwickshire CV21 1HH, GB)
1. Patient lifting apparatus for moving a patient between a seated position and a standing position, comprising a frame on which is mounted a support system comprising a pair of rigid arms to pass either side of the patient, and a sling which is connected to the arms so as to pass behind the patient, and means for raising and lowering the arms so as to lift or lower a patient whilst supported by the sling;
wherein the sling comprises first and second separate parts, one of the arms is connected to the first sling part, the other of the arms is connected the second sling part, and the arrangement is such that each of the sling parts can be moved relative to the frame between a first position in which it is to the side of the patient, and a second position in which it is behind the patient, the two sling parts in the second position forming the sling to support the patient for use when lifting or lowering the patient.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1 , wherein each sling part is rotatable with respect to a longitudinal axis of its respective arm.
3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 2, wherein each arm has a longitudinally directed portion which terminates in a transversely extending sling support member arranged to pivot in an upwardly directed plane which is transverse to the longitudinally directed portion of the arm, a respective sling part being connected to the sling support member. 4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3, wherein each sling support member is arranged to pivot with respect to its associated arm.
5. Apparatus as claimed in claim 3 or 4, wherein each sling part has one end portion attached pivotally to adjacent the free end of its associated sling support member.
6. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein the other end portion of each sling part is attached pivotally to another part of the apparatus.
7. Apparatus as claimed in any preceding claim, for use in transporting a patient when lifted, wherein the frame is provided with ground engaging rotatable supports means so that the frame can be moved over a surface, and a platform on which the feet of the patient can be placed.
8. A method of lifting a patient who is in a seated position, using apparatus as claimed in any of claims 1 to 6, comprising the steps of advancing the apparatus towards the seated patient with the sling parts in the first position so that they pass either side of the patient, moving the sling parts to the second position so that they are behind the back of the patient and form the sling, and raising the arms so as to lift the patent from the seated position whilst supported by the sling.
9. A method as claimed in claim 8, wherein the frame is provided with ground engaging rotatable supports means so that the frame can be moved over a surface, and a platform on which the feet of the patient can be placed, and the method includes the step of positioning the platform under the feet of the patent, so that when the patient is lifted the patient's feet rest on the platform, and moving the apparatus whilst supporting the patient.
10. A method as claimed in claim 9, wherein with the patient lifted and the patient's feet on the platform, the apparatus is used to transport the patient to another location, where the arms are lowered so that the patient is lowered to a seated position, the sling parts are moved to the first position, and the apparatus is moved away from the patient.
This invention relates to patient lifting apparatus for assisting a person to move between sitting and standing positions. The invention is particularly, but not exclusively, concerned with apparatus that can also be used to transport a patient once lifted, and to transfer the patient at another location.
It is known to provide patient lift and transport apparatus comprising a wheeled frame comprising a platform on which the feet of a user are placed, a knee pad which the knees of the user engage, and sling which passes around the lower back and / or buttocks of the user, the sling being connected to means for pulling the user up from a seated position to a standing position, the frame then being movable with the patient standing on the platform. Subsequently, the user can be lowered to a sitting position, the sling removed, and the apparatus moved away.
One such arrangement is disclosed in US 4157593. In this, a flexible sling is provided with two stiff arms, each ending in a handle. An operative such as a nurse holds the handles so that the arms and the sling form a U shape, and passes the sling over the head of a patient sitting on a chair, and down to the patient's lower back / buttocks. The operative then pulls on the sling to lift the patient up, and attaches the arms of the sling to fastenings on the frame which engage notches in the arms. The patient's feet are on a platform provided on the frame, with the patient's knees engaging a kneepad. The fastenings and the knee pad can then be lifted to raise the patent fully from the chair for transportation.
Another arrangement is disclosed in US 7356858. The patent wears upper and lower harnesses. Cables are attached to these harness and a block and tackle arrangement is used to lift the patient. These known arrangements are cumbersome to use. In US 4157593 the operative has to pas the sling over the head of the patient. In US 7356858 the patent has to wear a pair of harnesses. An object of the present invention is to provide apparatus that is easier to use. Viewed from one aspect, the invention provides patient lifting apparatus for moving a patient between a seated position and a standing position, comprising a frame on which is mounted a support system comprising a pair of rigid arms to pass either side of the patient, and a sling which is connected to the arms so as to pass behind the patient, and means for raising and lowering the arms so as to lift or lower a patient whilst supported by the sling; wherein the sling comprises first and second separate parts, one of the arms is connected to the first sling part, the other of the arms is connected the second sling part, and the arrangement is such that each of the sling parts can be moved relative to the frame between a first position in which it is to the side of the patient, and a second position in which it is behind the patient, the two sling parts in the second position forming the sling to support the patient for use when lifting or lowering the patient.
Thus, with both sling parts in their first positions, the apparatus can be advanced towards a seated patient so that the arms pass down either side of the patient. The sling parts can then be moved to their second positions to form a complete sling behind the patient so that the patient can be lifted. Subsequently, the patient can be lowered to a seated position again, the sling parts moved to their first positions, and the apparatus moved away from the patient.
In some embodiments, the sling parts could be moved between their first and second positions by primarily linear movement in lateral directions. For example, each arm or a part of each arm, could be mounted for pivotal movement about an upwardly directed axis. However, a disadvantage of such an arrangement is that in the first positions of the sling parts, the width of the apparatus may be increased undesirably. In preferred embodiments, each sling part is rotatable about a longitudinal axis of its respective arm. For example, each arm may have a longitudinally directed portion which terminates in a transversely extending member. The associated sling part is connected to the transversely extending member, and that member can pivot in an upwardly directed plane which is transverse to the longitudinally extending portion of the arm. The transversely extending member, attached to the sling part can thus pivot between a first position in which it extends upwards or downwards, and a second position in which it is directed behind the patient. In such an arrangement, the entire arm, carrying the transverse member, could pivot with respect of the frame, or a portion of the arm carrying the transverse member could pivot with respect of the remainder of the arm, or the transverse member could be attached to the arm by a pivot joint and thus pivot with respect to the arm as a whole. In preferred arrangements, the sling parts are flexible but attached to rigid supports. In an arrangement in which there is a pivoting transverse member attached to an arm, preferably each sling part has one end portion attached pivotally adjacent the free end of the transverse member, and the other end portion attached to another part of the apparatus, with respect to which the transverse member moves.
Preferably the attachment of the other end portion of sling part to another part of the apparatus also allows for pivotal movement of the sling part.
In preferred embodiments, the frame further comprises a knee pad which the knees of the patient can engage.
Preferably, the apparatus can be used to transport a patient once lifted and the frame is provided with ground engaging rotatable supports means so that the frame can be moved over a surface, and a platform on which the feet of the patient can be placed.
In one form of construction, there is a base module which includes wheels, rollers or the like and one or more motors for rotating at least two wheels or rollers. In one arrangement there is a wheel or roller at each end of the base module, an electric motor for each wheel / roller, and a rechargeable power supply within the base module. A pair of stabilising wheels or rollers are provided, each at the end of a forwardly projecting outrigger from the base module.
In one arrangement, a central lower support projects upwardly from the base module. An upper support is connected to the lower support by a pivot joint and an actuator is provided to raise and lower the upper support with respect to the lower support. In normal use, the upper support projects forwards from the lower support. Adjacent the free end of the upper support is mounted an arm support to which the arms bearing the sling parts are connected. The orientation of the arms with respect to the upper support may be varied by pivoting about a horizontal axis. This could be controlled by a gas strut, for example, so that the arms are kept level - i.e. at a predetermined orientation to horizontal - automatically. The upper support may be telescopic so that one part can be moved relative to the other part to adjust the length of the upper support. Other components of the apparatus can be adjustable so that the apparatus can be custom fitted to a patient.
The knee pad, which may have two sculpted regions to receive the knees of a user or could be in two distinct parts, may be attached to the base module or to the lower support. The platform for the feet of the user is preferably attached to the base module.
To move the sling parts, there may be electrical actuators in the arms, or adjacent the ends of the arms. Alternatively, there may be a remote electric actuator, for example mounted centrally, with flexible drive members extending inside the arms to drive the movable parts.
The apparatus may be operated by a remote control, preferably wireless by means of infra red, Bluetooth™ or the like. This may control the functions for lifting or lowering a patient. Preferably the remote control can control movement of the apparatus to a patient, movement to another location, and subsequent movement away from the patient when the transfer of the patient has been effected. The arrangement preferably allows either for assisted transfer with an operator controlling the apparatus, or control by the patient without assistance. There could be a locator provided on places where the patient is commonly picked up from and transferred to, such as a wheelchair, chair, side of a bed and so forth, to be used by the apparatus when moving between locations.
Remote control could additionally or alternatively be achieved by means of voice recognition and a suitable set of commands. Additionally or alternatively, control of the apparatus could be effected by a control panel on the apparatus. This could, for example, incorporate touch screen technology. There could for example be a simple fob which a patient used to summon the apparatus, before using an on board control panel. A fob could issue a signal which the apparatus uses to locate where the patient is. Location could be supplemented by a vision system using a suitably mounted camera on the apparatus connected to data processing apparatus which can recognise shapes. A typical use would be for the transfer of a patient between a wheelchair and a conventional chair. The use of the term "patient" does not imply that the user is ill or suffering from an injury. There may be a permanent or temporary disability, or perhaps difficulty with movement that come with old age. References to a "standing position" include semi-standing, standing only with support from the sling, standing independently with the sling as a safety feature, and so forth. A "seated position" could be on a chair, sofa, wheelchair, edge of a bed and so forth. The invention also extends to a method of lifting and optionally transferring a patient, using apparatus as described above.
An embodiment of the invention will now be described by way of example and with reference to the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure 1 is a perspective view of apparatus in accordance with the invention; Figure 2 is a front view with the sling parts in an open condition; Figure 3 is a front view with the sling parts in an intermediate condition; Figure 4 is a front view with the sling parts in a closed condition; Figure 5 is a view of the actuating system for the sling parts;
Figure 6 is a side view showing the apparatus approaching a patient to be transferred from a wheelchair to a conventional chair;
Figure 7 shows the apparatus in position, with the sling parts moved to the lifting orientation, ready to commence a transfer operation;
Figure 8 shows the patient being lifted;
Figure 9 shows the patient being moved towards the conventional chair; Figure 10 shows the apparatus having been rotated to present the patient to the conventional chair;
Figure 1 1 shows the patient having been lowered onto the conventional chair; and
Figure 12 shows the sling parts retracted and the apparatus moving away from the patient.
Referring now in details to the figures, the apparatus 1 comprises a base module 2 provided with wheels 3 and 4 at the opposite ends thereof. The rotation of the wheels is effected by a pair of electric drive motors (not shown) within the base module, powered by a rechargeable battery (not shown). The wheels can rotate independently in either direction, so that the apparatus can move forwards, backwards, turn or even spin on the spot. A pair of rollers 5 and 6 are mounted on outriggers 7 and 8 projecting forwards from the base module so as to provide a stable structure. A platform 9 projects forwardly of the base module, to support the feet of a patient, and is sculpted for the individual feet to prevent slipping.
Projecting upwardly form the centre of the base module 2 is a lower support 10. On the front of this is mounted a knee pad 1 1 which can be of a foamed material and may be a memory foam so that it adapts to the shape of a particular patient. The lower support 10 is connected to an upper support 12 by a pivot joint 13. The lower support 10 and the upper support 12 are interconnected by an electric linear actuator 36 so that the upper support can be raised and lowered. The upper support includes a telescopic portion 14, whose position can be locked by a knob 15. The remote end of the telescopic portion is connected to an arm support 16. A cross member 17 is mounted pivotally in the arm support and is connected at either end to an arm assembly 18. The arm assembly comprises a first arm 19 and a corresponding second arm 20, interconnected by a U shaped member 21. The orientation of the arm assembly with respect to horizontal is maintained by a gas strut (not shown).
The first arm 19 comprises a downwardly inclined portion 22 and a horizontally extending portion 23. This terminates in a pivoting joint 24 to which is connected a transversely extending first sling support 25. Similarly, second arm 20 comprises a downwardly inclined portion 26 and a horizontally extending portion 27. This terminates in a pivoting joint 28 to which is connected a transversely extending second sling support 29. Details are more readily seen in Figure 6. A first flexible sling part 30 is has one end pivotally connected at 31 to first sling support 25, and the other end pivotally connected at 32 to the first arm 19. A second flexible sling part 33 is has one end pivotally connected at 34 to second sling support 29, and the other end pivotally connected at 35 to the second arm 20. The sling parts may have a layer of foamed material or the like to improve comfort when engaged against a patient.
As shown in Figure 1 , the first sling support 25 and the second sling support 29 are both directed horizontally inwardly to face each other. The sling parts 30 and 33 thus from a complete sling. Figure 2 shows the sling supports rotated so that they are both directed upwardly. The sling parts 30 and 33 are separated and extend along the arms 19 and 20. Figure 3 shows the sling supports rotated partially inwardly. The sling parts 30 and 33 are still separated, but are coming together. Figure 4 shows the sling supports rotated fully so that they face each other as shown in Figure 1. The sling parts together form the complete sling.
Figure 5 show how the sling supports are rotated. An electric actuating motor 37 is mounted in the arm support 16. This rotates a pair of flexible drive elements 38 and 39, positioned in the U shaped member 21 and the arms 19 and 20 respectively. Drive element 38 operates the pivoting joint 24 and drive element 39 operates the pivoting joint 28. Thus the actuating motor 37 controls movements of the sling supports simultaneously.
A control unit 40 with a touch screen is mounted on the U shaped member 21 and can be used amongst other things to control the drive motors in the base module 2, the linear actuator 36 and the actuating motor 37.
Figure 6 show the apparatus 1 approaching a patient 41 sitting in a wheelchair 42. The sling parts 30 and 33 and their supports 25 and 29 are in the condition shown in Figure 2 and in the insert, and the upper support 12 is lowered. The end portions 23 and 27 of the arms 19 and 20 extend horizontally. In Figure 7, the apparatus 1 has advanced further forwards. The feet 43 of the patient rest on the platform 9 and the shins / knees 44 of the patient engage the knee pad 1 1. The sling parts 30 and 33 have been passed down the sides of the patient to adjacent the patient's lower back 45, and moved to the closed condition of Figure 4 and as shown in the insert to form a complete sling extending across the patient's lower back 45.
In figure 8, the linear actuator 36 has been operated to raise the upper support 12, thus lifting the patient 41 out of the wheelchair 42, so that the patient is now standing on the platform 9. As shown in Figure 9, the apparatus can now be moved away from the wheelchair 42, towards a conventional chair 46. The apparatus then spins round to the position as shown in Figure 10, to present the patient 41 to the chair 46. The apparatus then moves fully up to the chair 46 as shown in Figure 1 1 , and the linear actuator 36 is operated to lower the upper support 12 so that the patient 41 is lowered into the chair. The actuating motor 37 is then operated so that the sling parts 30 and 33 and their supports 25 and 29 move to the completely open condition, coming out from behind the back 45 of the user. The apparatus 1 can then be moved back, away from the patient, as shown in Figure 12.
The patient may hold on to suitable portions of the apparatus once lifted, and particularly during transport. For example a padded grip 47 may be provided on the top of the U shaped member 21 joining the arms 19 and 20.
There is thus provided an effective system for lifting and transferring a patent in comfort and safety.
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