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Title:
POSTURE CORRECTION
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2007/144641
Kind Code:
A3
Abstract:
An embodiment of the present invention provides a device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, the device comprising: a rigid pressure plate (1); and an anchor (7, 9, 11) that is configured, when the wearer adopts a good posture and without exerting undue pressure on the wearer's brachial plexus, to locate said plate in close proximity to the wearer and over a junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae; the arrangement being such that on adoption of a posture other than said good posture the device is configured to exert a corrective force on the wearer in the vicinity of the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae, said corrective force acting to encourage the wearer to forsake said other posture and move to adopt said good posture.

Inventors:
ELENANY, Sarah, Hamdy (London South Bank University, South Bank Technopark90 London Road, London SE1 6LN, GB)
Application Number:
GB2007/002235
Publication Date:
May 29, 2008
Filing Date:
June 15, 2007
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SOUTH BANK UNIVERSITY ENTERPRISES LIMITED (103 Borough Road, London SE1 0AA, GB)
ELENANY, Sarah, Hamdy (London South Bank University, South Bank Technopark90 London Road, London SE1 6LN, GB)
International Classes:
A61F5/02
Foreign References:
DE20009763U12000-08-31
US5855561A1999-01-05
GB191410791A1915-01-07
US20050245854A12005-11-03
US20040079378A12004-04-29
EP0966932A11999-12-29
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
MILHENCH, Mark, Lorne (First Thought IP Limited, 35 New Broad Street HouseNew Broad Street, London EC2M 1NH, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:

CLAIMS

1. A device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, the device comprising: a rigid pressure plate; and an anchor that is configured, when the wearer adopts a good posture and without exerting undue pressure on the wearer's brachial plexus, to locate said plate in close proximity to the wearer and over a junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae; the arrangement being such that on adoption of a posture other than said good posture the device is configured to exert a corrective force on the wearer in the vicinity of the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae, said corrective force acting to encourage the wearer to forsake said other posture and move to adopt said good posture.

2. A device according to Claim 1 , wherein the anchor comprises a garment.

3. A device according to Claim 2, wherein the garment is of elastic material.

4. A device according to Claim 3, wherein the pressure plate is enclosed within the garment in use.

5. A device according to Claim 4, wherein the pressure plate is received within a pocket formed in said garment.

6. A device according to any of Claims 2 to 5, wherein the garment includes a plurality of reinforced regions that together define means for securing the pressure plate in close proximity to the wearer and over a junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae.

7. A device according to Claim 6, wherein said reinforced regions comprise a pocket and an elastic member housed within the pocket.

8. A device according to any of Claims 1 to 3, wherein the pressure plate is attached to the garment.

9. A device according to Claim 8, wherein the plate and the garment are provided with respective complementary parts of a two-part engagement mechanism, the plate being secured to the garment by engagement of the two-parts of said engagement mechanism.

10. A device according to Claim 8 or 9, means for adjusting the location of the plate with respect to the garment.

11. A device according to any of Claims 8 to 10, comprising means for locking the plate in a predetermined position with respect to said garment.

12. A device according to any of Claims 2 to 11 , wherein said garment includes an indicator that is alignable with an anatomical feature of the wearer in use, said plate being properly located in the vicinity of the junction of said cervical and thoracic vertebrae when said indicator is aligned with said anatomical feature.

13. A device according to Claim 1 , wherein the anchor comprises a first pair armatures extending in use from said pressure plate under respective arms of the wearer towards the chest.

14. A device according to Claim 13, wherein the anchor comprises a second pair of armatures extending over respective shoulders of the wearer in use, means being provided to join respective ones of said first and second armatures.

15. A device according to Claim 14, wherein said means for joining the first and second armatures comprises a pair of elastic straps joining respective ones of said first and second armatures.

16. A device according to Claim 14, wherein said means for joining the first and second armatures comprises a pair of elastomeric strips joining respective ones of said first and second armatures.

17. A device according to Claim 13, wherein the anchor comprises a strap that is capable of being worn around the torso, said first pair of armatures being configured to engage with said strap.

18. A device according to any of Claims 13 to 17, wherein the device comprises means by which the device may be attached to a garment.

19. A device according to Claim 18, wherein said device comprises one or more attachment tabs.

20. A device according to any preceding claim, wherein the pressure plate further comprises a pair of armature extensions that are configured to conform to the shape of the trapezius muscles of the wearer in use.

21. A device according to Claim 20, wherein said armature extensions pass over respective shoulders of the wearer from said plate.

22. A device according to Claim 20 or 21 , wherein said armatures are adjustable to conform to the shape of the trapezius muscles of the wearer.

23. A device according to Claim 22, wherein said armatures are of heat- or light- curable material.

24. A device according to Claim 22, wherein said armatures include a plurality of armature segments that are coupled one to the other, said segments being moveable with respect to one another to conform the armature to the shape of the trapezius muscles of the wearer.

25. A device according to any preceding claim, wherein said pressure plate comprises a plurality of sections hinged together.

26. A device according to Claim 25, wherein said hinge extends generally vertically in use.

27. A device according to Claim 25 or 26, wherein said hinge extends generally horizontally in use.

28. A device according to any preceding claim, wherein at least a portion of the device is encapsulated in an elastomeric material.

29. A device for restraining the trapezius muscles of a wearer, the device comprising: a first portion shaped to conform at least approximately to the trapezius muscles of the wearer when the wearer adopts a good posture, and a second portion configured to hold the first portion in close contact with the wearer, said first portion comprising a substantially rigid hinged portion configured to flex when the wearer relaxes said trapezius muscles and a first pair armatures extending in use from said hinged portion under respective arms of the wearer towards the chest, the hinged portion including a second pair armatures extending over respective shoulders of the wearer in use, said second portion comprising elastic straps joining respective ones of said first and second armatures, the arrangement being such that on adoption of a posture other than said good posture the device exerts a force on the wearer that encourages the wearer to adopt said good posture.

30. A garment for use with a device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, the garment including an indicator that is configured so that when the garment is worn and the indicator is aligned with a predetermined anatomical feature of the wearer, the device is correctly positioned with respect to the wearer.

31. A garment comprising a device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, wherein the device comprises a rigid pressure plate; and the garment is configured, when the wearer adopts a good posture and without exerting undue pressure on the wearer's brachial plexus, to locate said plate in close proximity to the wearer and over a junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae; the arrangement being such that on adoption of a posture other than said good posture the device is configured to exert a corrective force on the wearer in the vicinity of the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae, said corrective force acting to encourage the wearer to forsake said other posture and move to adopt said good posture.

Description:

POSTURE CORRECTION Field of the Invention

This invention relates to posture correction, particularly but not exclusively to a device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture. Various different embodiments are described in the present application, and of these one illustrative embodiment pertains to a device that is operable to restrain the trapezius muscles of a wearer to thereby assist the wearer in the correction of poor posture, for example the correction of slouching. In other embodiments the device may be attached to clothing, and a particularly preferred aspect of the invention relates to a posture correction device that is attached to a garment.

Background to the Invention

As shown in Fig. 1 , the spine comprises twenty-six vertebrae arranged in three groups: the cervical (upper) group of vertebrae, the thoracic (middle) group and the lumbar (lower) group. The cervical group (designated with a C) includes seven vertebrae (designated C1 to C7) arranged to have a slight inward "cervical curvature" (lordosis). The thoracic group (designated with a T) includes twelve vertebrae (designated T1 to 12) arranged to have a slight outward "thoracic curvature" (kyphosis). The lumbar group (designated with an L) includes five vertebrae (designated L1 to L5) arranged to have a slight inward "lumbar curvature" (lordosis).

As indicated in Fig. 1 , the cervical and thoracic groups of vertebrae meet at the junction of the C7 and T1 vertebrae, and the thoracic and lumbar groups of vertebrae meet at the junctions of the T12 and L5 vertebrae.

Referring now to Figs. 2 and 3, Fig. 2 illustrates a spine with "good posture" and Fig. 3 illustrates a spine with "bad posture". As is clearly apparent from a comparison of these two figures, adoption of a bad posture causes the C7 and T1 vertebrae to rotate towards one another. This rotation creates less space between the vertebrae and shortens the displacement, or vertical length, of the spine. Outwardly, this bad posture manifests itself as a "slouch" with an exaggerated inward cervical curvature. Fig. 4 is a schematic representation of the muscles of the back, showing in particular one of the key muscles for controlling posture. The two trapezius muscles, of which only one is shown in Fig. 4, together resemble a trapezium, or diamond-shaped quadrangle: two angles corresponding to the thoracic vertebrae (shoulders); a third to the occipital protuberance; and the fourth to the spinous process of the twelfth thoracic vertebra. The functions of the Trapezius muscles include scapular elevation (shrugging

up), scapular adduction (drawing the shoulder blades together) and scapular depression (pulling the shoulder blades down).

It is known in the art that standing correctly requires effort as the body has to do work against gravity to maintain a correct posture. A slouch, in contrast, requires less effort, and in this position a person has relaxed their trapezius muscles to allow their shoulder blades to fall under gravity.

Prolonged sitting in a slouch position causes the trapezius muscles to weaken, and hence the effort required to sit with a correct posture (i.e. without slouching) increases. This problem is exacerbated by the growing use of and dependence upon computers which has meant that there is now a greater opportunity for a person to sit for prolonged periods of time in a slouch position that is detrimental to their posture.

Slouching can more easily be avoided if good posture is constantly maintained, since the muscles needed for good posture would be frequently used and so would be strong and thus would be able to support the first spinal curve in its correct position. Slouching whilst looking bad, also has a direct effect upon one's health. In particular, as compared with someone who slouches, a person with correct posture has better blood circulation, improved digestion and a greater vital capacity.

Previously proposed devices for addressing such conditions, such as those disclosed in German Patent No. 120697 (published in 1901) and US Patent No. 6315747, have focused on pulling the shoulders of the wearer in a backwards direction.

However, such a solution is less than optimal as it has no appreciable effect on the spinal curves of the wearer.

A more serious problem with the devices disclosed in these documents is that is that both of the disclosed devices would invariably apply a considerable pressure to the wearer's Brachial Plexus. As illustrated in Fig. 5, the Brachial Plexus is a bundle of nerves that runs from the spinal cord, under the collar bone, through the armpits and from the armpits to the fingers. Placing pressure on these nerves and hence compressing them, even for a relatively short amount of time, quickly causes a numbness and loss of feeling in the arms. Continued compression, of the type that may occur with the devices disclosed in these patents, may lead to serious long term nerve injury, and ultimately to the loss of function of the arm, forearm, hands or fingers.

It is also the case that as these devices are relatively bulky; they cannot readily be worn outside the home without immediately identifying even to the casual observer that there is something "wrong" with the person wearing the device. There is also a taboo associated with "health products" - particularly for the youth market who may often prefer to be seen as flippant rather than care about their health.

A further problem with these and other devices that have previously been proposed is that the devices are configured so as to be flexible, and this flexible nature of the devices means that whilst the devices are generally sufficient to tend to draw the shoulder blades of the wearer backwards, they cannot apply a pressure to the junction between the thoracic and cervical vertebrae that is sufficient to encourage a wearer to correct the excessive inward curvature of the cervical vertebrae and outward curvature (kyphosis) of the thoracic vertebrae that are characteristic of poor posture.

There is a need in the art, therefore, for a discrete and relatively unobtrusive device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, and an aim of the present invention has been to provide just such a device.

Statement of Invention

To this end, a presently preferred embodiment of the present invention provides a device for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture, the device comprising: a rigid pressure plate; and an anchor that is configured, when the wearer adopts a good posture and without exerting undue pressure on the wearer's brachial plexus, to locate said plate in close proximity to the wearer and over a junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae; the arrangement being such that on adoption of a posture other than said good posture the device is configured to exert a corrective force on the wearer in the vicinity of the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae, said corrective force acting to encourage the wearer to forsake said other posture and move to adopt said good posture.

In a particularly preferred embodiment the device may be configured for attachment to or incorporation within an item of clothing, the arrangement being such that the clothing will only feel comfortable to the user when the user adopts said good posture. In other words, a second aspect of the present invention relates to an item of clothing having a device as described herein attached to or incorporated within the item of clothing.

In general terms, preferred embodiments of the present invention relate to a device which is formed so that in a position of correct posture of the upper body it will not bear on the wearer, and so that in any other position it will bear on the wearer to cause discomfort to the wearer that will encourage the wearer to move away from the position of bad posture. The device requires the wearer to use their own muscles to move to a position of good posture, and it is therefore more of means for reminding the user to change position; as the work that keeps the body in the correct position is done by the body's muscles and not the invention. In a particularly preferred embodiment of the

present invention, the device is configured to correct the muscles sustained in flexion, returning them to their natural position (at which they are at their natural length).

Other preferred features, embodiments and advantages of the device will be apparent from the following detailed description of various preferred embodiments.

Brief Description of the Drawings

Various presently preferred embodiments of the present invention will now be described, by way of illustrative example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which: Fig. 1 is a schematic representation of a human spine;

Figs. 2 and 3 are schematic representations of good and bad postures; Fig. 4 is an illustration showing the principle back muscles of a human; Fig. 5 is a schematic representation of part of a human skeleton illustrating the location of certain nerve bundles; Fig. 6 is a schematic perspective of the internal components of a device according to a first embodiment of the invention;

Fig. 7 is an external view of the device depicted in Fig. 6; Fig. 8 is a schematic representation of another external view of the device; Fig. 9 is a schematic enlarged representation of a component of the device; Fig. 10 is an alternate view of the device, showing part of the device in more detail;

Fig. 11 is a schematic representation of the device installed in a garment; Fig. 12 is a schematic representation of a device according to a second embodiment of the invention; Figs 13 and 14 are schematic representations of parts of the device depicted in

Fig. 12;

Figs 15 and 16 are schematic representation of further embodiments of the invention;

Figs. 17(a) to (d) are schematic representations of a garment for use with embodiments of the invention;

Fig. 18 is a schematic front view of a garment according to a particularly preferred embodiment of the present invention;

Figs. 19 and 20 are plan and elevation views, respectively, of a component of a device according to a preferred embodiment of the invention; Fig. 21 is a schematic elevation of part of the component depicted in Figs. 19 and

20;

Fig. 22 is a schematic perspective view of the component shown in Figs. 20 and 21;

Fig. 23 is a schematic representation of a device according to a further embodiment of the invention together with an enlarged section thereof; Figs. 24(a) and (b) are schematic representations of a garment with which the device of Fig. 23 may be used; and

Figs. 25(a) and (b) ~ are schematic representations of a locking mechanism in locked and unlocked configurations, respectively.

Detailed Description of Preferred Embodiments

Referring now to the accompanying drawings, in general terms the device according to the various embodiments described herein is configured to act on the body of the wearer in a region extending from the base of the thoracic vertebrae (preferably upwards from the first few thoracic vertebrae), since this is the portion of the body involved with slouching. Preferred embodiments of the invention provide a device which reminds a wears to correct their posture and, optionally, a garment which houses the device.

In some configurations, the device may be configured to restrict the trapezius muscles of the wearer to a correct position, where the muscles have a length that is appropriate for a good posture.

The restraining device is comprised of two elements; a pressure plate that bears against the wearer (when the wearer adopts a bad posture), and an anchor that functions to hold the pressure plate to the user and correctly locate the plate over the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae. In one embodiment, the pressure plate may comprise two rigid components that are hinged to one another, the hinged plates may each be extended to provide elements that function to restrict the trapezius muscles to their correct lengths, and the anchor may comprise straps which hold the plate on the body. In this arrangement the extensions to the plate may take the form of rigid (or at least substantially rigid) armatures that are formed to conform to the shape of the trapezius muscles when a good posture is adopted (i.e. when the muscles are at their correct lengths and the pressure plate makes contact with vertebrae in both the cervical and thoracic regions of the spine).

In the preferred arrangement the armatures are rigid, but it will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the device may still function adequately if the armatures are not absolutely rigid. In a particularly preferred arrangement the armature (and

optionally other components of the device) may be either wholly or partially encapsulated within an outer skin, for example an outer skin of an elastomeric material.

As mentioned above, the pressure plate may comprise two (or more) rigid components (for example of polypropylene) that are hinged to one another, and the components and hinge may be configured so that the hinge and hence the rigid section can close in only one direction. In a particularly preferred arrangement, the resilience of the elastomer from which the hinge is formed may be chosen to exert a force on the rigid components to open the hinge so that after the hinged components have moved to close (because the wearer has started to slouch); the device will naturally be urged towards the good posture position.

In one configuration a pair of arm straps may be provided. The arm straps are preferably comprised of elastic, preferably elastomeric, material and join the front of the device to the back of the hinged pressure plate. As will hereafter be described, these straps may include a partially or wholly encapsulated rigid armature which is fixed at a proximal end to the hinged pressure plate and extends from the pressure plate under the armpit so that the distal end lies to the side of the body some way below the armpit. The arm strap armature restricts the length of the strap to avoid applying a pressure in an upward direction (i.e. towards the head). The arm strap pivots through the geometry of the elastomeric portion, and functions to exert a force on the body to hold the restraining device in the correct position. In the preferred arrangement, the armature conforms to the shape of a portion of the cervical vertebrae and thoracic vertebrae and natural position of the trapezius muscles.

The device is attached to a garment, for example by stitching, and may be manufactured in a variety of dress sizes, conforming to the anthropometrical data of a given dress size. The restraining device may be manufactured by means of a twin-shot injection moulding process. In a particularly preferred arrangement the armature is made from a rigid polymer and the outer skin is made from an elastomeric polymer.

Referring now to Fig. 6 of the accompanying drawings, the internal components of the device of this embodiment (which components are covered by an outer skin prior to use) comprise a pressure plate 1 that has been extended, in the manner described above, to provide a pair of armatures 3 which are configured to lie over the trapezius muscles of the wearer in use. A pair of arm straps 5 can be attached to respective ones of the armatures 3, and are configured to bear - in use - against the body of the wearer without applying pressure to the wearer's brachial plexus. The straps 5 and pressure plate 1 are encapsulated in an outer skin prior to use, and are configured and arranged

so that the pressure plate overlies the junction between the thoracic and cervical vertebrae.

The pressure plate is rigid (by which we mean that the material from which it is made is not flexible), and could readily be formed from a plastics material such as polypropylene. A variety of alternative materials, such as metals, may also be utilised, although it is preferred for the device not to be overly heavy. In the preferred arrangement the plate includes, as shown, a number of cut-outs, which cut-outs help reduce the weight of the plate and also allow for heat and moisture to travel through the plate. Figs. 7 and 8 are perspective views of the outside of the device once the pressure plate and arms have been encapsulated within the outer skin. As shown, the outer skin includes segments 7 that function to join to the pressure plate 1, the regions 9 of the outer skin that encapsulate the arm straps 5. The outer skin also includes a second strap 11 that extends generally parallel to the regions 9 encapsulating the arm straps 5.

In the preferred arrangement the outer skin is configured to include a pair of connecting tabs 13 that each provide a point where the device may readily be attached to an item of clothing (not shown). It is also preferred for the outer skin encapsulating the pressure plate 1 to include a plurality of slots 15 that generally overlie the cut-outs and thereby facilitate heat and moisture movement through the pressure plate 1.

In this embodiment the pressure plate 1 includes a pair of rigid plates 19 that are joined to one another by a hinge 17, the function of which will now be described. The hinge may comprise a typically piano-style hinge, or in an alternative preferred embodiment may simply comprise a thinned section of material that is able to flex. Fig. 9 is an enlarged view of the pressure plate 1 showing an enlarged view of a section of the hinge 17. As illustrated the rigid plates 19 are hinged so that a gap 21 is created between the plates, which gap will be adjacent to the wearer's skin when the device is worn. The pressure plate 1 is arranged to contact the thoracic and cervical vertebrae in use, in particular to overlie the junction between the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. As aforementioned, the hinge 17 is configured so that as the plates are moved away from the wearer the walls of the plates adjacent either side of the hinge abut against one another to stop the plates from moving further away from the wearer.

Fig. 10 is another view of the device showing, particular, an enlarged view of a portion of the device where the outer skin joins to the extended armatures 3 of the pressure plate 1. As depicted in Fig. 10, the outer skin covering the arms 5 is joined to

the extended armatures 3 in such a way that the arms 5 (and covering outer skin) can pivot to a small degree with respect to the pressure plate 1.

As aforementioned, the device is designed so that when it is worn the pressure plate 1 overlies the junction between the cervical and thoracic vertebrae, and the armatures 3 extending from the plate 1 overlie the trapezius muscles but stop short of the clavicle bones. In this embodiment the anchor for the pressure plate comprises the arms 5 that extend from the rear of the plate under the arms of the wearer, and the outer skin that extends from the arms to rejoin the front of the plate. As is clear from, inter alia, Fig. 10 of the drawings, a key advantage of the arrangement described is that the device avoids exerting pressure on the brachial plexus of the wearer of the device.

Fig. 11 is a schematic perspective view of the rear of a garment 23 according to an embodiment of the invention in which the device has been installed. As illustrated, the restraining device has been attached to the garment via the connecting tabs 13 in the region of the shoulder seams of the garment 23. Fig. 12 is a schematic representation of another embodiment of the present invention. The pressure plate 1 of this embodiment is also hinged, as per the previous embodiment, and has similar extended armatures 3 to the embodiment previously described. The key difference between this embodiment and the previous embodiment is the manner in which the device is secured to the wearer. In this embodiment the anchor that secures the device to the wearer comprises a strap 25 that passes round the chest of a wearer of the device, and a pair of arms 31 that are depicted in Figs. 13 and 14. The strap may be of an elastic material and may contain any of a number of standard haberdashery components that would also the length of the strap to be adjusted to fit. The arms are each provided, at one end, with a pair of slots 27 through which the strap may be threaded, and at the other end with a through-hole 33 by means of which the arms 31 may be mounted to the pressure plate 1. The arms 31 include a reinforcing rib 30 that is provided so that the arms do not buckle when an upward or downward radial force is applied. The arms 31 are mounted to the pressure plate 1 in such a way that the arms can pivot with respect to the plate. When the device is appropriately fitted, the arms wrap around the ribcage and the elastic strap allows the intercostals muscles to expand, as the ribcage does, when air is inhaled through the lungs.

In this embodiment, as with the previous embodiment, the pressure plate is secured to the wearer in such a way that the plate bears against the junction between the cervical and thoracic vertebrae. The extended armatures 3 bear against the trapezius muscles of the wearer, and the arrangement is such that if the wearer should

start to slouch the plate and armatures exert a force on the wearer that encourages the wearer to adopt a posture more in line with that depicted in Fig. 2 of the accompanying drawings.

It is recognised that whilst the majority of wearers will have similar postures, there will be variations in what is considered to be a "good posture" from wearer to wearer. To accommodate such variations, in particular insofar as the effect they have on the shape of wearer's spine is concerned, it is proposed - as depicted in Fig. 15 and 16 - to configure the pressure plate 1 and/or the armatures 3 extended therefrom with one or more transverse hinges 35 that allow the pressure plate and armatures to be configured to more closely follow the particular "good posture" shape of the wearer of the device. In a particularly preferred arrangement, the like of which will further be described, it is preferred that means be provided to enable the device to be locked in a particular shape once it has been adjusted (for example by a medical technician or a doctor) so that it properly conforms to the wearer's good posture shape. Referring now to Figs. 17(a) to (d) and 18 of the accompanying drawings, there is depicted a preferred embodiment where the anchor comprises a close fitting elastic vest 37, for example of elastane, lycra or any other elastic fabric. The vest includes a number of strengthened regions 39 that may comprise (as shown in Fig. 17(a)) a pocket 41 formed by joining pieces of material together, which pocket 41 houses an elastic member 43.

As shown in Figs. 17(b) to (d), the strengthened regions extend over the chest of the wearer of the vest, around behind the shoulders and terminate at a part of the vest that will in the vicinity of the wearer's collar bone when the vest is worn. The strengthened regions together provide a means for securing a pressure plate (not shown), for example of the type depicted in any of Figs. 10, 12, 15 or 16, in place against a wearer of the vest. The pressure plate may, as shown in Figs 10, 12, 15 and 16 be extended to form armatures, or in another arrangement the plate may not include the extended armatures and instead comprises a generally rectangular body.

In one envisaged implementation the pressure plate is secured within a pocket (not shown) formed on the inside of the rear panel of the vest or is otherwise secured to the vest, and in these configurations the vest 37 may, as depicted in Fig 18, include one or more indicators 44 that function to correctly align the pressure plate with the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae when the one or more indicators overlie the wearer's collar bone (or other anatomical feature). In a particularly preferred arrangement the indicators 44 comprise a region of material that is differently coloured to the remainder of the vest.

Figs 19 to 22 of the accompanying drawings illustrate an adjustable armature 45 that may be employed with various different aspects of the present invention.

As shown in Figs. 19 to 21 , the armature 45 comprises a plurality of armature segments 47 that are joined to one another. In this embodiment, each segment comprises a pair of upstanding parallel walls 49 that are joined by a planar member 51 , either side of which includes a notch 53.

Adjacent armature segments 47(i) and 47(ii) are joined to one another by a connector 55. The aforementioned parallel upstanding walls 49 include toothed ends

56, and adjacent segments are arranged so that the toothed end of one segment is engaged with the toothed end of the adjacent armature to thereby permit a limited rotation of one segment relative to another.

The notches 53 in either side of the planar member 51 are such that respective ends of the planar member can bend in opposite directions to impart a twist to the planar member 51. By virtue of this arrangement each upstanding parallel wall 49 of each segment 47 can rotate by a different amount relative to the planar member, and the effect of this on the armature as a whole is that the upstanding edges of the armature (defined by adjacent interlinked upstanding walls on either side of the planar members) may be configured to have different radii of curvature.

This is advantageous as it enables the device to be adjusted in such a way that account may be had for the fact that the trapezius muscles tend to be inclined upwardly towards the neck of the wearer.

Other arrangements for conforming the armature to the wearer are also envisaged. For example, the armature may be formed from a malleable material that can readily be cured, for example by immersion in hot water or exposure to a particular type of light, and fixed in a position that closely conforms to the shape of that wearer's trapezius muscle.

Referring now to Figs. 23 to 25 of the drawings, there is depicted an arrangement whereby a pressure plate 57 is fixed to an item of clothing 59 (in this case a vest), and the item of clothing 59 becomes the anchor for the plate. As previously the item of clothing may be of lycra, elastane or any other elastic material.

In this arrangement the pressure plate 57 is mounted on a transverse bar 61 that includes docks at either end, the docks being configured to allow the bar to engage with respective ball fittings 63 of a pair of fasteners 65. The bar also includes a locking mechanism, the actuator 67 for which is shown projecting from the bar. Each fastener comprises a pin 69, a bracket 71 that is configured to slide up and down the pin, and one part 73 of a two-part pop fastener that is carried by the bracket.

As shown in Figs. 24(a) and 24(b) complementary parts 75 of the two-part pop fastener are located in a rear face of the clothing 59, the parts 75 being arranged so as to be spaced from one another and so as to be located - when the garment is worn - in the vicinity of the junction between the wearer's cervical and thoracic vertebrae. Fig. 24(b) shows an arrangement where the pop fasteners on the bracket have been joined to the pop fasteners on the garment to mount the pressure plate within the garment.

Referring now to Fig. 25(a), the locking mechanism actuator 67 can be pushed into the bar 59 to drive a plunger 77 from the position indicated in Fig. 25(a) to the position indicated in Fig. 25(b). As the plunger moves into the bar 61 , a pair of rocker plates 79 rotate about their respective pivots 81 to compress a pair of springs 83 and draw respective locking members 85 out of engagement with the ball fittings 63 of the fastener pins 69 (as shown in Fig. 25(b).

In this configuration the ball fittings may be rotated with respect to the bar and the pins 69 may be pushed in or out of the respective brackets 71 until the pressure plate 57 is correctly located over the junction between the wearer's thoracic and cervical vertebrae.

When the plate is correctly located, releasing the locking mechanism actuator 67 causes the springs 83 to decompress and urge the plunger 77 out of the bar 61. As the plunger 77 moves out of the bar 61 the rocker plates 79 rotate and drive the locking members 85 into engagement with the ball fittings to lock the fittings and fastener pins in place.

In this position the plate has been adjusted so that, in a position of good posture, it does not exert a corrective force on the wearer. However, if the wearer should start to slump then the vest draws the pressure plate against the junction between the wearer's thoracic and cervical vertebrae to encourage the wearer to move back to a position of good posture.

It will be apparent from the foregoing that there are herein described several mechanisms for encouraging a wearer to adopt a good posture. The mechanisms described do not exert an excessive force on the wearer's brachial plexus, and are compact and discrete. In particularly preferred arrangement the devices are configured as integral components of a garment, and in another arrangement a garment is disclosed that includes an indicator for indicating to a wearer of the garment when a therapeutic device is correctly positioned. It will be appreciated that whilst various aspects and embodiments of the present invention have heretofore been described, the scope of the present invention is not

limited to the particular arrangements set out herein and instead extends to encompass all arrangements, and modifications and alterations thereto, which fall within the scope of the appended claims. For example, it will be apparent that the arrangement described in connection with Figs 19 and 20 could be configured to provide a ratchet action whereby the radius of the armature cannot be increased once it has been shaped to a user, unless a locking means releasing said ratchet action should be operated. In another modification, the alignment indicator described above may be provided for use with the embodiment illustrated in figs. 23 to 25, and in yet another modification the device may not be removable from a garment of which it forms an integral part. In such an arrangement it would be preferred for the device to be machine washable.

It should also be noted that whilst the accompanying claims set out particular combinations of features described herein, the scope of the present invention is not limited to the particular combinations hereafter claimed, but instead extends to encompass any combination of features herein disclosed.