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Title:
A PIECE OF RESTING FURNITURE SUCH AS A BED OR CHAIR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2009/021513
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A piece of resting furniture such as a bed or chair comprising a least one actuator (4,5) and a control unit (11) and at least one control panel (9,10) to bring about an adjustment of the piece of furniture, and further comprising at least one strain gauge (18,19) connected to an alarm to detect whether a person is occupying the piece of furniture or not wherein the strain gauge (18,19) is located in connection with the actuator (4,5). The function is based on relative changes in the load on the strain gauge (18, 19) from a preset reference thereby allowing use of sensors with low resolution, which thereby are comparatively cheap. Moreover, when placing the strain gauge (18,19) in connection with the actuator (4,5) this simplifies the incorporation thereof in the piece of furniture. Not least the construction also renders it possible in an easy manner to upgrade existing hospital and care beds with an egress function.

Inventors:
WESTERMANN, Karsten (Dybbøl Bygade 55, Sønderborg, DK-6400, DK)
Application Number:
DK2008/000285
Publication Date:
February 19, 2009
Filing Date:
August 11, 2008
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
LINAK A/S (Smedevænget 8, Guderup, Nordborg, DK-6430, DK)
WESTERMANN, Karsten (Dybbøl Bygade 55, Sønderborg, DK-6400, DK)
International Classes:
A47C20/04; A61G7/10; A61G12/00; F16H25/20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
LINAK A/S (Patent Department, P.O. Box 238, Aalborg, DK-9100, DK)
Download PDF:
Claims:

PATENT CLAIMS

1. A piece of resting furniture such as a bed or chair comprising a least one actuator (4,5) and a control unit (11) and at least one control panel (9,10) to bring about an adjustment of the piece of furniture, and further comprising at least one strain gauge (18,19) connected to an alarm to detect whether a person is occupying the piece of furniture or not, c h a ra cte ri ze d in that the strain gauge (18,19) is located in connection with the actuator (4,5).

2. Furniture according to claim ^ ch ara cterized in that the actuator is an electro-mechanical linear actuator with a thrust rod.

3. Furniture according to claim 2, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the strain gauge (18,19) is mounted at the end of the thrust rod (14).

4. Furniture according to claim 2, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the strain gauge (18,19) is mounted in connection with a rear mounting (17) of the actuator.

5. Furniture according to claim 2, ch a racte rize d in that a load cell is located within the actuator in the line of forces between the front and rear mounting (14a, 17) of the actuator.

6. Furniture according to claim ^ c h a r a cte ri z e d in that the strain gauge (18,19) is arranged on the piece of furniture in connection with a bracket (17) for mounting the actuator in the piece of furniture.

7. Furniture according to claim 1, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the strain gauge is a piezoelement.

8. Furniture according to claim ^ ch a racte ri zed in that that a mean

value is calculated continuously on basis of a number of recent signals from the strain gauge (18,19) and that said mean value is compared with a reference value and in case the mean value falls without a preset value then an audible or acoustic alarm is triggered.

9. Furniture according to claim 1 or 8, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the reference value is set when a patient is placed in the bed in a specific posture intended.

10. Furniture according to claim 1, 8 or 9, c h a ra cte ri zed in that the sensitivity could be set according to the state of the health of the patient.

11. Furniture according to claim ^ ch a racterized in that at least two identical strain gauges (18,19;20) are arranged in the system, where at least one of the strain gauges (20) is arranged at a location not having a force applied to it, thus giving a temperature depending signal that can be used to calibrate the readout from the stressed strain gauges in the system.

12. Furniture according to claim ^ c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that a measurement of the applied force can be made when adjusting the piece of furniture by reading the strain gauges (18,19), and if certain thresholds are met corresponding to an overload of the system, signalling can be made to stop the movement.

13. Furniture according to claim 6, ch a ra cte ri ze d in that the bracket (17) is having a hole wherein a bushing (23) can be placed and kept in a fixed position in the hole.

14. Furniture according to claim 13, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that the bushing (23), preferably of metal is designed with an inlay of a number of strain gauges (18,19).

15. Furniture according to claim 14, ch aracte ri zed in that the hole in the bushing (23) from both sides has a conical inlet (24,24') that has its most narrow diameter (25) in the mid length of the hole, to shape a contact point between the mounting bracket (17) and a mounting pin (22) that serves to mount the actuator in the furniture.

16. Furniture according to claim 15, c h a r a cte r i z e d in that when a force is applied to the bushing (23) inserted in the bracket (17), the strain gauges (18,19) will be manipulated accordingly and an expression of the force applied can be read from the strain gauges.

17. Furniture according to claim 1, c h a ra cte r i z e d in that the strain gauges (18,19) are connected to a control and communication unit within the cabinet of the actuator itself, in order to forward the measurements on the strain gauges to an external control unit (11) for processing the data and issuing alarms if certain conditions are met.

18. Furniture according to claim ^ c h a ra cte ri zed in that the control unit (11) has means for recording a log representing the level of movement of the patient over time.

19. Furniture according to claim 18, ch aracterized in that the log can be used to determine: Quality of sleep (medication sufficient)

State of health (no movement, slow movement, quick movement) Time in bed and out of bed Position in bed and where in bed.

20. Furniture according to claim 1, c h a ra ct e r i z e d in that the input from the strain gauges (18,19) are calibrated with input from a positioning

system, said positioning system giving the position of the spindle nut on its movement on the spindle and from this input determine the angle of the adjusted part of the piece of furniture, thus being able to calculate, from the angle and the resulting tension on the strain gauge placed in the line of forces through the actuator, the contribution of the weight of the patient resting on the part of the piece of furniture supported by the actuator.

21. An actuator system as applied in the furniture according to claims 1-20.

22. A patient lifte comprising a frame (101) with a cantilever (102) secured at its one end to a top end of the frame and its other end having means (103) for carrying a patient and where the cantilever may be raised and lowered by means of at least one linear actuator with its one ende attached to the frame (101) and with its other end to the cantilever (102) and further comprises a control unit and at least one control panel, c h a r a c t e r i z e d in that it comprises at least one strain gauge (18,19), the strain gauge (18,19) being located in connection with the actuator (4,5).

Description:

A PIECE OF RESTING FURNITURE SUCH AS A BED OR CHAIR

The invention relates to a piece of resting furniture such as a bed or chair of the type defined in the introductory portion of claim 1. Further the invention also relates to an actuator system applied in the furniture and moreover the invention relates to a patient lift.

The piece of resting furniture dealt with is of the nature which could be adjusted by means of at least one actuator. In hospital and care beds an upper frame carrying the mattress could be raised and lowered by means of actuators and also the back and leg rest of the support for the mattress could be adjusted by means of actuators. Also leisure chairs in nursing homes could be adjusted by means of actuators. The types of actuators normally used is linear actuators with a thrust rod, see e.g. WO 02/29284

A1 Linak A/S. A special linear actuator for beds is a double drive, see e.g.

WO 02/24035 A1 Cimosys AG. An example of a rotary actuators could be found in WO 01/17401 A1 Linak A/S designed especially for beds. For recliners or leisure chairs is know a linear actuators without a thrust rod, where the application is directly fixed to the spindle nut, see e.g. WO

96/12123 Koch ( sold by OKIN Gesellschaft fϋr Antriebstechnik mbH).

In hospitals and nursing homes it is for some types of patients necessary for the nursing staff to know whether the patient is lying in the bed or is about to leave it (called pre-egress) or has left it (called egress). Such beds are among others described in US 4,934,468 Hill Rom Co. Inc. and US 5,276,432 Stryker Corp. In beds furnished with a weighing system for weighing and/or monitoring the weight of the patient the weighing system could be employed for monitoring of the patients position in relation to the bed. In such types of beds it is straight forward to incorporate an alarm in case the patient has left the bed. In more sophisticated elaborations it is

also possible to detect if the patient is about to leave the bed or to detect the position of the patient in the bed. However as such bed constructions basically is meant for weighing and/or monitoring weight of the patient, load cells with high resolution and of high quality are used which also renders such constructions expensive. This means that such beds only is used within hospitals and even finds restricted use, namely for patients requiring special treatments or special attention.

To improve care of patients on a general level in hospitals and nursing homes and to improve the working conditions for the staff, it would be helpful with a more widespread use of beds with at least an egress function.

Thus it is an object of the invention to provide an egress function which makes it possible to implement in hospital or care bed at a larger scale.

This is achieved according to the invention by a piece of resting furniture as stated in claim 1 where a strain gauge is arranged in connection with the actuator. As the strain gauge should not weigh the patient or monitor the weight of the patient but exclusively should be used to detect whether a patient is resting in the piece of furniture or not, strain gauges of a very simple nature and with low resolution and thereby relative inexpensive strain gauges could be used. The egress function is based on relative changes in the load on the strain gauge from a preset reference and if the changes exceed a predefined interval then an alarm audible or visual is triggered. Moreover, when arranging the strain gauge in connection with the actuator this simplifies the incorporation thereof in the piece of furniture. Going even a step further and mounting the strain gauge directly in or on the actuator makes it possible to supply a complete actuator system providing an egress function. Not least it also renders it possible in an easy manner to upgrade existing hospital and care beds with an egress function.

As the invention can provide an economical solution this makes it possible to furnish ordinary hospital beds, care beds and leisure chairs with an egress function where it hitherto has not been the case for economical reasons.

In a preferred embodiment of the invention the actuator is an electromechanical linear actuator with a thrust rod which offers advantages as to the implementation of the strain gauge. This is especially true for the type of actuators where the forces is in a straight line between a front and rear mounting of the actuator, as e.g. in WO 02/29284 A1 Linak A/S.

According to an embodiment of the invention, the strain gauge is mounted at the front end of the thrust rod, and in an alternative embodiment the strain gauge could also be mounted in connection with the rear mounting of the actuator. In a further elaboration of the invention the load cell, preferably at least one strain gauge, is located within the actuator in the line of forces between the front and rear mounting of the actuator. As the load cell is integrated in the actuator offers the advantage that it should not be mounted separately. This of course means that the actuator should be manufactured accordingly.

In an embodiment according to claim 6, the strain gauge is arranged on the piece of furniture in connection with a bracket for mounting the actuator in the piece of furniture, since the line of forces fully flows through this part of the construction. This means that one basically could use a standard actuator.

Even though the preferred load cell component is a strain gauge where the read out will be a specific force measurement it can be foreseen that other sensors as stated in claim 7 can be used. Specifically, is here mentioned a piezoelement. Contrary to a strain gauge a piezoelement will only be able

to indicate the dynamic change in the load and not a specific value. This puts special requirements on the control unit that has to calculate and determine if the egress signal meets the defined thresholds to indicate that the person has left the bed or is about to leave the bed.

The signal from the weighing cell, being a strain gauge or a piezoelement, varies since even the slightest movement of the person in the bed is recognized and amplified. If the person in the bed performs a quick movement, it could lead to a faulty indication of the person being on his way out of the bed. This problem is solved according to by that a mean value is calculated continuously on basis of a number of recent signals from the strain gauge and that said mean value is compared with a reference value and in case the mean value falls without a preset value then an audible or acoustic alarm is triggered. The reference value could be determined and set based on various criterion. In an embodiment the reference value is set when a patient is placed in the bed in a specific posture.

According to claim 10, the sensitivity of the alarm could be set according to the state of the health of the patient. Rapid movements of the patient can be an indicator of bad sleeping quality or insufficient medication, which the service personal has to be aware of. If a patient under no circumstances is allowed to sit up in the bed or leave the bed, a high sensitivity setting will be able to call the service personal even before the patient has left the bed, thus hopefully enabling the service personal to prevent accidents from occurring.

Strain gauges are sensitive to environmental changes like the changing of the surrounding temperature, and needs calibration. This can be achieved as stated in claim 11 by placing at least two identical strain gauges in the system, where no force is being applied to at least one of the strain gauges, thus giving a temperature depending signal that can be used to calibrate

the readout from the stressed strain gauges in the system.

As a side effect to the functioning as a pre-egress and egress warning system, the strain gauges in addition can be used during operation of the actuators to indicate if the system is overloaded or blocked. This is brought about by that a measurement of the applied force is be made when adjusting the piece of furniture by reading the strain gauges, and if certain thresholds are met corresponding to an overload of the system, signalling can be made to stop the movement.

As how to arrange the strain gauge in the bracket for mounting the actuator in the piece of furniture the bracket is having a hole where a bushing can be placed and kept in a fixed position in the hole. The bushing could be designed with an inlay of a number of strain gauges and of a dimensional stable material, preferably metal and that the bushing is used for mounting one end of the actuator in the application. From both sides the hole in the bushing has a conical inlet that has its most narrow diameter in the mid length of the hole to shape a contact point between the bracket and a mounting rod such as a pin which serves to mount the actuator in the application. When a force is applied to the bushing inserted in the bracket, the strain gauges will be manipulated accordingly and an expression of the force applied can be read from the strain gauges. The bushing could be designed with an outer ring of a flexible material with an inlay of the number of strain gauges. In a system with two strain gauges, the strain gauges can be placed in the ring, so the first strain gauge will be manipulated when the activation member of the actuator is carrying a load where the second strain gauge is not manipulated by any force and can be used as a temperature reference signal as described earlier. In another situation the actuator will apply a force to the second strain gauge, where the first strain gauge will not be manipulated by any force thus being the strain gauge to be used as a temperature reference. Accordingly it is possible to provide a

system using only two strain gauges for measuring the push and pull forces of the actuator with a high accuracy of measurement since the strain gauge not being manipulated by any force can be used to provide a measure of the needed temperature compensation of the manipulated strain gauge. For an easy explanation the signal from the strain gauge can be separated into two parts: a fixed value which is temperature dependent and a dynamic part that reflects the force applied to the strain gauge. The value of interest is the dynamic part thus it would be the aim to isolate this value by compensating out the fixed temperature depending value. Practically the signals from the strain gauges can be fed through a differential amplifier, balancing out the contribution to the signal from the fixed temperature depending part. In this way, the output from the differential amplifier will reflect the force on the actuator mounting bracket with an indication of the direction of the force.

Having the strain gauges incorporated in the actuator itself in connection with a mounting bracket, is a practical solution since the necessary electrical connections can be made inside the actuator. In addition, time can be saved installing the egress function in a bed since the function is built into the actuator component itself. According to the embodiment in claim 17 not only the connections for the strain gauges are integrated in the cabinet of the actuator itself, but also a unit connected to the strain gauges for receiving, amplifying, filtering and communicating the egress signal. It can be foreseen that parts of the circuit and cable network can be placed outside the cabinet. The connections between the strain gauges and the control is arranged in a way so that the strain gauges are connected to a control and communication unit within the cabinet of the actuator itself in order to forward the measurements on the strain gauges to an external control unit for processing the data and issuing alarms if certain conditions are met. It would on the other side not be a problem to integrate the full control system, the visible indications and transmitters for acoustic alarms

directly in the cabinet of the actuator to form a stand alone egress warning system embedded in an actuator.

A control unit can be developed further to include various functions and controls. In one embodiment the control unit has means for recording a log representing the level of movement of the patient over time giving a picture of the state of the condition of the patient. In a further development a data processing of the log can be used to determine the state of: Quality of sleep, to tell if the medication is sufficient; The state of health represented by how physical active the patient is figured by no movement, slow movement or quick movement; Time in bed and out of bed; Position in bed and where in bed.

In resting furniture the back rest and/or the leg rest can be raised to various angle positions which influence the load on the actuators. It is an option to equip the actuators with a positioning system to detect the position of the movable element. E.g. in linear actuators tt can be an absolute positioning system based on a potentiometer where the slider is locked to a spindle nut, the spindle nut moving over the travel of the spindle. Alternative solutions use hall sensors for counting the revolutions of one of the rotating parts in the actuator, where that number and the total number of revolutions over the travel of the spindle nut on its movement on the spindle can be used to calculate the position of the spindle nut and thereby the trust rod. This position information can be used in the egress system as stated in claim 20, in that the input from the strain gauges are calibrated with input from a positioning system, said positioning system giving the position of the spindle nut on its movement on the spindle and from this input determine the angle of the adjusted part of the piece of furniture, thus being able to calculate, from the angle and the resulting tension on the strain gauge placed in the line of forces through the actuator, the contribution of the weight of the patient resting on the part of the piece of furniture supported

by the actuator.

When implementing the egress functionality in an actuator for raising or lowering an upper frame in respect to a lower frame, such as in a hospital or care bed, it must be taken into account that the upper frame is raised from contact with the lower frame, since a load change on the bed will not influence the strain gauge if the upper frame is resting on the lower frame. What is needed is that the load is carried by the actuator with the line of forces running through the mechanical parts measured by the strain gauge. This is very easily achieved by testing the position of the spindle nut in the actuator and accordingly adjusting the level of the upper frame until a gap is reached between the frames. If the actuator in which the strain gauge is incorporated is the actuator for adjusting the head or foot section of the bed the same procedure can be used, testing the position of the spindle nut in the actuator and adjusting the head or foot section to be raised over the upper frame of the bed until a sufficient gap is achieved. Practically a raising angle of one or two degrees will be sufficient to create the necessary gap. If the head section is raised further in order for the patient to take a sitting position in the bed, the resulting force on the actuator that raises the head section applied by the weight of the patient will be proportional to the raising angle. Thus the thresholds for when to activate the alarm must be calculated proportionally on the basis of the raised angle of the head section.

As the invention can provide an economical solution this makes it possible to furnish ordinary hospital beds, care beds and leisure chairs with an egress function where it hitherto has not been the case for economical reasons and thereby provide a better caretaking and better working conditions for the attendant staff.

Further the invention also relates to an actuator system as applied in the

furniture according to claims 1-20.

Having recognized the invention and bearing in mind that strain gauges could be used to measure a load it is realized that the invention could be elaborated further in a patient lift to weigh a patient. The patient lifte according to the invention comprises a frame with a cantilever secured in a pivoting manner at its one end to a top end of the frame and its other end having means for carrying a patient and where the cantilever may be raised and lowered by means of a least one linear actuator with its one end attached to the frame and with its other end to the cantilever, and further comprises a control unit and at least one control panel, and comprising at least one strain gauge, the strain gauge being located in connection with the actuator and arranged to weigh the patient. In a patient lift the actuator will under normal operating conditions always be under pressure.

The invention will be described more fully below with reference to the accompanying drawing, in which:

Fig. 1 , shows a schematic side view of a hospital bed,

Fig. 2, shows an enlarged view of an actuator furnished with a strain gauge seen from above,

Fig. 3, shows a display,

Fig. 4, shows a rear mounting bracket having a built-in strain gauge,

Fig. 5, shows a cross section of the rear mounting bracket in Fig. 4 and

Fig. 6, shows a schematic picture of a patient lift

In the drawing Fig. 1 there is shown an adjustable hospital bed comprising a base 1 with wheels and an upper frame 2 with a support 3 for the mattress. The support has a middle portion 3a fixedly mounted in the upper frame 2 and an adjustable leg rest 3b and head rest 3c. The leg rest and head rest could be adjusted by linear actuators 4,5. The upper frame 2 is linked to the base 1 by a lever mechanism 6. The lever mechanism 6 is in the base 1 connected with two actuators 7,8 for raising and lowering the upper frame 2. The actuators are connected to a control unit 11 containing a power supply and an electric control circuit. The power supply consists of a low voltage unit, typically a transformer and rectifier, and a rechargeable battery pack used when the bed is out of range of a mains wall socket or in case of mains power failure. The patient could operate the bed by means of a wire connected remote control 9 at the head end of the bed. Further or instead there could be control panels integrated in side guards. The attendant could operate the bed with a wire connected remote control at the foot end of the bed. Further or instead there could be an operations panel 10 (ACP - Attendant Control Panel) which can be fitted to advanced hospital and care beds. It allows the nursing staff to retain direct control over critical functions. Such an operations panel could be of the type which could be drawn out from under the bed at the foot end. Just to mention it besides from being operated synchronously the two actuators 7,8 could also be operated individually to tilt the upper frame over a transverse axis (Trendelenburg/Anti-Trendelenburg position).

In the drawing Fig. 2 an upper view of a linear actuator is shown of the nature disclosed in the WO 02/29284 Linak A/S and reference is made thereto as part of the present specification. The end of the thrust rod 14 is equipped with a strain gauge in a housing 13, said housing comprises a first bowel shaped part attached to the end of the thrust rod and in said first bowel shaped part is located a strain gauge. Over the first bowel shaped

part is placed upside down a second bowel shaped part such that the strain gauge is encaptured between two said bowel shaped parts. At the end of the second bowel shaped part is fastened a front mounting 14a for mounting the actuator in the bed structure. The load from the upper part of the bed including the weight of a patient would be transferred to the strain gauge via the front mounting 14a. The signal from the strain gauge is via the wire 12 transferred to an electronic signal handling equipment which in turn is connected with a control panel and an audible and/or visual alarm. The latter could be located in the attendants control room and connected to the computer system such that the alarm appears on a monitor together with an indication of the bed in question.

The electronic signal handling equipment is designed so that a mean value is calculated continuously on basis of a number of recent signals, e.g. the latest sixteen signals and in case this falls outside a preset value then the patient is just about to leave or has actually left the bed. When the patient is placed in the bed in the specific posture intended then the egress function is initiated by activating a key on the control panel. The sensitivity could also be set according to the state of the health of the patient. This is done by activating a key on the control panel having indicators for the sensitivity.

The control panel 15 is shown in Fig. 3 with a key at either end of an array of LED's there between. The icon on the key is indicating a bed and a person either on his way out of bed (to the right) or resting in the bed (to the left).

Fig. 4 shows a preferred embodiment of the invention where the strain gauges are mounted in connection with a rear mounting bracket 17 of the actuator. More specific, the strain gauges 18,19, are mounted directly in the bracket 17 for mounting the actuator in the piece of furniture. This is advantageous compared to the embodiment shown in Fig. 2, since the rear

mounting bracket 17 of the actuator where the strain gauges 18,19 are incorporated is fixed in relation to the actuator cabinet 16. The wires (not shown in the drawing) for connecting the strain gauges 18,19 to the control unit 11 can therefore conveniently be lead directly through the cabinet 16. This makes the actuator with the strain gauges a compact and reliable unit where the cables are protected against wear and tear. In the actuator cabinet 16 the wires can be connected directly to a cable leading out of the actuator for processing the data outside of the actuator, typically in a control unit 11. Since the outputs from the strain gauges 18,19 are very sensible to electro magnetic noise, it would be preferred to amplify and filter the signals before forwarding the signals out of the actuator, and it can also be foreseen that the full egress functionality could be integrated in the cabinet 16 of the actuator itself, including the visual and audible indicators. As can be seen from the drawing, the strain gauges 18,19 are incorporated directly in the bracket in a ring-like arrangement 21 which in detail is shown in Fig. 5.. The actuator is mounted in the piece of furniture by means of a pin 22. passing through a bushing 23 inserted in a hole of the rear mounting bracket 17. The bushing 23 is having conical inlets 24 from both sides, to form an access point towards the pin 22 in the mid 25 of the length of the bushing 23. On the outer side of the bushing 23 there is recess 26 in which the strain gauges 18,19 are mounted. When a pressure is applied on the rear mounting bracket 17, which could be caused by a load resting on the actuator's activation rod or if the actuator itself is activated to apply a force on the construction, the pressure will cause the bushing 23 to be compressed. The compression will be minimal since the bushing 23 is made of a form stable material, but the strain gauge 18,19 on the side of the bushing 23 having a force applied to it will be influenced and issue a signal proportional to the pressure. It is noted that strain gauges 18,19 are sensitive to temperature changes, and must be calibrated to temperature changes to reflect an exact applied pressure level. This calibration is done using the strain gauges 18,19 which is not under load. When the actuator is

pushing the strain gauges 19 is under pressure whereas the strain gauges is relieved from any load and vice versa when the actuator exercises a pulling force. However the calibration can also be done by placing a further strain gauge 20 on a strain neutral place in the construction and using this strain gauge 20 as a temperature calibrated reference point to the strain gauges 18,19 placed in the line of force of the actuator.

It would be understood that either or both of the two actuators 4,5 raising and lowering the upper frame or either or both actuators 7,8 raising the head or foot section, could be equipped with a strain gauge as described above.

Further it would be appreciated that the invention is not restricted to the type of bed shown in the drawing. The invention could also be used in connection with beds where the upper frame is carried by a pair of actuators design as telescopic columns, e.g. as dealt with in WO 02/29284 A1 Linak A/S. Also the invention could be used in leisure chairs, e.g. at nursing homes where an elderly person or a disabled person is placed in a leisure chair.

In Fig. 6 there is shown a patient lifte comprising a frame 101 provided with wheels. A cantilever 102 is secured at its one to the frame and is rotatable about a horizontal axis. A lifting hook 103 for lifting a patient is secured to the other end of the cantilever. The cantilever may be raised and lowered by a linear actuator 104, which is secured at its one end to the frame, and whose other end is secured to the cantilever. A control box 105 is mounted on the frame, containing a control unit and rechargeable batteries for operating the actuator. A handset 106 is connected to the control unit for manoeuvring the cantilever. The rear mounting of the actuator 104 is furnished with a pair of strain gauges 18,19 arranged as described above and shown in Fig. 4 and 5. However the strain gauges are arranged to

weigh the patient and the patient's weight is read out on a display (not shown). In this context it would be understood that a high measuring accuracy is not required therefore non-expensive strain gauges could still be used.