Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
IMPACT-RESISTANT CHEST PROTECTOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2023/028026
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An apparel system configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer is disclosed. The apparel system includes an apparel having an area configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The apparel system includes a rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a location covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The rigid plate has a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer. The apparel system lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate. A protective element configured to be worn by a wearer is also disclosed. The protective element comprises a rigid plate configured to cover a left pectoral region of the wearer when the protective element is worn. The rigid plate has a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer.

Inventors:
VITO ROBERT (US)
Application Number:
PCT/US2022/041155
Publication Date:
March 02, 2023
Filing Date:
August 23, 2022
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MATSCITECHNO LICENSING CO (US)
International Classes:
A41D13/05; A41D27/06; A41D27/12; A41D27/20
Foreign References:
US20050251901A12005-11-17
JPH11183093A1999-07-06
CN112571896A2021-03-30
US20180132547A12018-05-17
JP3120254U2006-03-30
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ETKOWICZ, Jacques, L. et al. (US)
Download PDF:
Claims:
What is claimed:

1. An apparel system configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer, the apparel system comprising: an apparel including an area configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn; a rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a location covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn, the rigid plate having a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer; and wherein the apparel system lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate.

2. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the area of the apparel comprises a pocket and the rigid plate is configured to be received within the pocket.

3. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the rigid plate is fixedly coupled to the apparel.

4. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the apparel comprises fabric.

5. The apparel system of claim 4, wherein the apparel is configured as a shirt.

6. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the rigid plate comprises one or more of polycarbonate, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and nylon.

7. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the rigid plate is limited to covering only the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn.

8. The apparel system of claim 1, wherein the rigid plate comprises an impact-resistant pad affixed to a surface of the rigid plate facing the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn.

9. The apparel system of claim 8, wherein the impact-resistant pad comprises: a first elastomer layer having a first density; a second elastomer layer having a second density higher than the first density; a layer of high-tensile strength fibrous material; and a polymer layer.

10. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein: the first elastomer layer is arranged directly adjacent the second elastomer layer; the second elastomer layer is arranged directly adjacent the layer of high- tensile strength fibrous material; and the layer of high-tensile strength fibrous material is arranged directly adjacent the polymer layer. 11. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein the first elastomer layer comprises a layer of closed cell foam.

12. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein the second elastomer layer comprises a layer of closed cell foam.

13. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein the layer of high-tensile strength fibrous material comprises a layer of aramid fibers.

14. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein the layer of high-tensile strength fibrous material is coated with a polymer material.

15. The apparel system of claim 9, wherein the polymer layer comprises a polypropylene polymer layer.

16. The apparel system of claim 8, wherein the impact-resistant pad covers a left side of the torso of the wearer in addition to the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn.

17. A protective element configured to be worn by a wearer, the protective element comprising: a rigid plate configured to cover a left pectoral region of the wearer when the protective element is worn, the rigid plate having a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer.

18. The protective element of claim 17, wherein the rigid plate comprises one or more of polycarbonate, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and nylon.

19. The protective element of claim 17, wherein the rigid plate is limited to covering only the left pectoral region of the wearer when the protective element is worn.

20. The protective element of claim 17, wherein the rigid plate comprises an impact-resistant pad affixed to a surface of the rigid plate facing the left pectoral region of the wearer when the protective element is worn.

21. An apparel system configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer, the apparel system comprising: an apparel including an area configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn; a rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a location covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn, the rigid plate having a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer; a second rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a second location covering the left side of the torso of the wearer when the apparel is worn; and wherein the apparel system lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate and the second rigid plate.

Description:
IMPACT-RESISTANT CHEST PROTECTOR

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims priority to U.S. Patent Application

No. 17/410,250, filed August 24, 2021, entitled "IMPACT-RESISTANT CHEST PROTECTOR" the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The invention relates generally to the field of protective gear and materials, and more particularly, an apparel system comprising impact-resistant materials configured to cover a region of the chest when worn.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Conventionally, participants in sports (e.g. soccer, martial arts, cricket, football, rugby, baseball, softball, lacrosse, field hockey, etc.) wear protective gear to cushion the force of impacts that are regularly received during those events. In recent years, the dangers of high-force impacts during such contact sports have been a matter of focus. The dangers of these impacts can be diminished or minimized by effectively cushioning participants from the forces of impacts.

For one example, sudden cardiac death by chest impact in sports, known as commotio cordis, is a fear in sports with projectiles. Baseball, lacrosse, and hockey are three common sports in which commotio cordis occurs. More concerningly, commotio cordis has occurred due to chest wall impacts despite the athletic participant wearing of a chest protector. In fact, potentially one third of commotio cordis events in the above competitive sports occur in individuals wearing a chest protector. Accordingly, improved apparel systems comprising impact-resistant materials configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the chest when worn are required to adequately protect athletes from the risk of commotio cordis.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

Aspects of the invention are directed to an impact-resistant chest protector.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an apparel system configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer is disclosed. The apparel system comprises an apparel including an area configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The apparel system also includes a rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a location covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The rigid plate has a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer. The apparel system lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate. In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a protective element configured to be worn by a wearer is disclosed. The protective element comprises a rigid plate configured to cover a left pectoral region of the wearer when the protective element is worn. The rigid plate has a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an apparel system configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer is disclosed. The apparel system comprises an apparel including an area configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The apparel system includes a rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a location covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The rigid plate has a contour corresponding to the left pectoral region of the wearer. The apparel system further comprises a second rigid plate configured to be coupled to the apparel at a second location covering the left side of the torso of the wearer when the apparel is worn. The apparel system lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate and the second rigid plate.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The invention is best understood from the following detailed description when read in connection with the accompanying drawings, with like elements having the same reference numerals. When a plurality of similar elements are present, a single reference numeral may be assigned to the plurality of similar elements with a small letter designation referring to specific elements. When referring to the elements collectively or to a non-specific one or more of the elements, the small letter designation may be dropped. According to common practice, the various features of the drawings are not drawn to scale unless otherwise indicated. To the contrary, the dimensions of the various features may be expanded or reduced for clarity. Included in the drawings are the following figures:

FIG. 1 is an image illustrating an exemplary apparel system in accordance with aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 2A is an isometric view of an exemplary rigid plate in accordance with aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 2B is a side view of the rigid plate of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2C is a front view of the rigid plate of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 2D is a cross-sectional view of the rigid plate of FIG. 2A, taken through line 2D-2D.

FIG. 2E is a top view of the rigid plate of FIG. 2A.

FIG. 3 is an image illustrating another exemplary apparel system in accordance with aspects of the present invention. FIG. 4A is an isometric view of another exemplary rigid plate in accordance with aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 4B is a side view of the rigid plate of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 40 is a front view of the rigid plate of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 4D is a cross-sectional view of the rigid plate of FIG. 4A, taken through line 4D-4D.

FIG. 4E is a top view of the rigid plate of FIG. 4A.

FIG. 5 is an image illustrating the rigid plate of FIG. 2A comprising an exemplary impact-resistant pad in accordance with aspects of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a diagram illustrating a cross-sectional view of the impactresistant pad in accordance with aspects of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

The exemplary apparel system disclosed herein is configured to provide improved protection against the force of impacts. The apparel system is suited to be employed as a sole source of protection against the force of impacts, or in combination with other protective pads and/or layering. As used herein, the term "apparel" is intended to encompass any protective gear, clothing, or devices where impact resistance is desired and/or under which impact-resistant materials and pads may generally be employed. As used herein, the term "impact-resistant" is intended to encompass any object that partially or fully lessens, diminishes, dissipates, deflects, or absorbs the force of an impact. As used herein, the terms "apex beat" and "apical impulse" are intended to correspond to the pulse that can be found at the apex of the heart, or at the point farthest outwards (laterally) and downwards (inferiorly) from the sternum. The "apical impulse" can be found in an area generally in the left center of the chest and below the nipple. Further, the term "left ventricle" is intended to refer to one of the four chambers of the heart and is located in the bottom left portion of the heart. The "left ventricle" can be found generally in the left center of the chest.

The apparel system comprising exemplary impact-resistant materials described herein is particularly suitable for providing protection against high impact forces caused by projectiles in athletic activities. The disclosed apparel system desirably reduces or eliminates the risk of occurrence of commotio cordis to a wearer wearing the disclosed embodiments.

While the exemplary embodiments of the invention are described herein with respect to athletic activities, it will be understood that the invention is not so limited. Suitable applications for apparatuses of the present invention include, for example, military gear, police gear, and construction gear. Other suitable applications will be readily understood by one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein. Referring now to the drawings, FIG. 1 illustrates an exemplary apparel system 20 in accordance with aspects of the present invention. Apparel system 20 is configured to be worn on a torso of a wearer and provides protection to the wearer against the force of impacts during, for example, athletic activities. As a general overview, apparel system 20 includes an apparel 200 and a rigid plate 202 configured to be coupled to the apparel 200. Additional details regarding apparel system 20 are described herein.

Apparel system 20 is configured to be worn on the wearer's torso. For one example, apparel system 20 may be shaped or contoured in order to correspond to a portion of the anatomy of the wearer. In an exemplary embodiment, apparel system 20 includes the apparel 200 comprising an area 204 configured to cover at least a left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn. For example, apparel 200 may comprise fabric and may be configured as a shirt. Area 204 of apparel 200 may further comprise a pocket configured to receive rigid plate 202 (further discussed below).

Turning now to FIGS. 2A-2E, apparel system 20 further includes a protective element configured to be worn by a wearer, such as the rigid plate 202. In an exemplary embodiment, apparel system 20 lacks any additional rigid plate other than the rigid plate 202. It should be understood that the term "rigid," as used herein, does not require absolute or complete rigidity, but is intended to encompass materials that are comparatively more rigid than at least another component of the apparel system 20, such as the apparel 200 or pad 10 having elastomeric materials (discussed further below). In a non-limiting example, rigid plate 202 may comprise one or more of polycarbonate, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and nylon.

Rigid plate 202 is configured to be coupled to the apparel 200. For example, the rigid plate 202 may be fixedly coupled to the apparel 200. In particular, the rigid plate 202 is configured to be coupled to the apparel 200 at a location 206 covering the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn. The rigid plate 202 may be limited to covering only the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn (as shown in FIG. 1) or rigid plate 202 may cover the wearer's chest, including the left pectoral region, when the apparel 200 is worn (as shown in FIG. 3).

The geometry of the rigid plate 202 may be selected to correspond to a portion of the anatomy of the wearer, such as the left pectoral region of the wearer. To cover the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn, the rigid plate 202 includes a contour 208 (as best shown in FIGS. 2B and 2E) that corresponds to the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn. For one example, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2C, the rigid plate 202 may have a generally irregular geometry with curved or rounded corners. In particular, it is also desirable that rigid plate 202 has an area that is sufficiently large to cover the left pectoral region of the wearer's chest for providing protection against force of impacts during athletic activities. In one exemplary embodiment, rigid plate 202 has an area that is sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer. Providing a rigid plate 202 having an area sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer is desirable for providing protection against commotio cordis, which may be triggered by a force of impact toward at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer. However, the rigid plate 202 may still be limited in dimensions (area) to a range that provides protection against high impact forces without being overly large to enable comfort, flexibility, and ease of movement during athletic activities. In an exemplary embodiment, the rigid plate 202 may have an aspect ratio defined by a width, W, at the widest point of the rigid plate 202, and a length, L, at the longest point of the rigid plate 202. In a preferred embodiment, rigid plate 202 has a width (W) between 6 inches to 7.5 inches, a length (L) between 6.5 inches to 7.5 inches.

The ability to protect against the force of impacts is of paramount importance in apparel system 20. Nonetheless, it is also desirable that apparel system 20 be sufficiently thin to enable comfort, flexibility, and ease of movement during athletic activities. To this end, the rigid plate 202 may be limited in thickness to a range that provides protection against high impact forces without being overly thick. In an exemplary embodiment, the rigid plate 202 may have a thickness, Tl, (FIG. 2D) from 2 mm to 5 mm at its thinnest point and 2.5 mm to 5.5 mm at its thickest point. Further, the rigid plate 202 may have a height, Hl, (FIG. 2E) between 40 mm to 45 mm.

Referring now to FIGS. 3 and 4A-4E, apparel system 20 may additionally or optionally include an additional rigid plate, such as rigid plate 210. As shown in FIG. 3, apparel system 20 may include rigid plate 202, which may be configured to cover the left pectoral region of the wearer and rigid plate 210, which may be configured to cover a region adjacent to the left pectoral region covered by rigid plate 202 when the apparel 200 is worn. Rigid plate 202 and additional rigid plate 210 may collectively form protective element 220. Details regarding rigid plate 210 generally correspond to the details of rigid plate 202.

As stated above, it should be understood that the term "rigid" does not require absolute or complete rigidity, but is intended to encompass materials that are comparatively more rigid than another component of the apparel system 20, such as the apparel 200 or pad 10 having elastomeric materials (discussed further below). In an exemplary embodiment, rigid plate 210 may comprise one or more of polycarbonate, acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), and nylon. Rigid plate 210 is configured to be coupled to the apparel 200. For example, the rigid plate 210 may be fixedly coupled to the apparel 200. In particular, the rigid plate 210 is configured to be coupled to the apparel 200 at a location 218 adjacent the left pectoral region of the wearer, such as the left side of the torso of the wearer, when the apparel 200 is worn. In an exemplary embodiment, the rigid plate 210 is configured to be coupled to the apparel at the location 218 covering the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen, when the apparel 200 is worn. To cover the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen when the apparel 200 is worn, the rigid plate 210 includes a contour 212 (as best shown in FIG. 4B) that generally corresponds to the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen. An area or location adjacent to area 204 of apparel 200 may further comprise a pocket configured to receive rigid plate 210.

As shown in FIGS. 4A and 40, the rigid plate 210 may have a generally rectangular geometry with curved or rounded corners. The geometry of the rigid plate 210 may be selected to correspond to a portion of the anatomy of the wearer, such as the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen. In particular, it is also desirable that rigid plate 210 has an area that is sufficiently large to cover the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen for providing protection against force of impacts during athletic activities. In one exemplary embodiment, rigid plate 210 has an area that is sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer. Providing a rigid plate 210 having an area sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer is desirable for providing protection against commotio cordis, which may be triggered by a force of impact toward at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer.

In another exemplary embodiment, when apparel system 20 comprises rigid plate 202 and additional rigid plate 210, the total area of rigid plate 202 and additional rigid plate 210 is sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer. It is desirable for apparel system 20 to comprise rigid plate 202 and additional rigid plate 210 because the heart may be vulnerable to a force of impact directed toward the center of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's chest. Still further, it is desirable for the total area of rigid plate 202 and additional rigid plate 210 to be sufficiently large to cover at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer, for providing protection against commotio cordis, which may be triggered by a force of impact toward at least one of the apical impulse area and the left ventricle of the wearer.

The rigid plate 210 may still be limited in dimensions (area) to a range that provides protection against high impact forces without being overly large to enable comfort, flexibility, and ease of movement during athletic activities. In an exemplary embodiment, the rigid plate 210 may have an aspect ratio defined by a width (W') at the widest point of the rigid plate 210, and a length (!_') at the longest point of the rigid plate 210. In a preferred embodiment, rigid plate 210 has a width (W') of no more than 7 inches, a length (!_') of no more than 7.5 inches. Still further, rigid plate 210 may be limited in thickness to a range that provides protection against high impact forces without being overly thick. In an exemplary embodiment, the rigid plate 202 may have a thickness, T2, (FIG. 4D) from 3 mm to 5 mm at its thinnest point and a thickness from 3.25 to 3.5 mm at its thickest point. Further, the rigid plate 210 may have a height, H2, (FIG. 4E), between 8 mm to 9 mm.

Turning now to FIG. 5, the rigid plate 202 may comprise an impactresistant pad 10 affixed to a surface 214 (FIG. 2E) of the rigid plate 202 facing the left pectoral region of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn. Additionally, or optionally, rigid plate 210 may comprise an impact-resistant pad 10 affixed to surface 216 (FIG. 4B) of the rigid plate 210 facing the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen when the apparel 200 is worn. In another exemplary embodiment, apparel system 20 comprises the rigid plate 202 and further comprises an impactresistant pad 10 configured to be coupled to the apparel 200 at a second location, such as location 218, covering the left side of the torso of the wearer when the apparel 200 is worn. In particular, the impact- resista nt pad 10 is configured to be coupled to the apparel 200 at the location 218 covering the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen, when the apparel 200 is worn.

Pad 10 may be affixed to surface 214/216 by attachment means known to one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein, such as adhesives. When affixed to surface 214 and/or surface 216, impact-resistant pad 10 is configured to cover the left pectoral region of the wearer and/or the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen, respectively, with impact-resistant material 100 (best shown in Fig. 6) when the apparel 200 is worn. Likewise, when coupled to the apparel 200, impact-resistant pad 10 is configured to cover the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen, with impact-resistant material 100 (best shown in Fig. 6) when the apparel 200 is worn.

Providing a layer of impact-resistant material 100 covering the wearer's left pectoral region desirably reduces or eliminates the risk of occurrence of commotio cordis to a wearer taking part in an athletic activity. Providing a layer of impact-resistant material 100 covering the left side of the wearer's chest or the left side of the wearer's abdomen desirably reduces or eliminates the dangers of high-force impacts, including the risk of occurrence of commotio cordis to a wearer taking part in an athletic activity. Impact-resistant material 100 may consist solely of first elastomer layer 110, second elastomer layer 120, high-tensile strength fibrous material layer 130, and polymer layer 140, or may comprise additional layers of impact-resistant material. Other suitable impact-resistant material layers will be known to one of ordinary skill in the art, and include for example, additional elastomer or high-tensile strength fibrous material layers.

The layers of impact-resistant material 100 are desirably arranged in a particular order in order to optimally dissipate the force of impacts to the wearer of apparel system 20. In an exemplary embodiment, the first and second elastomer layers 110 and 120 are positioned on one side (e.g., an inner side) of impact-resistant material 100, and high-tensile strength fibrous material layer 130 and polymer layer 140 are positioned on the other side (e.g., an outer side) of impact-resistant material.

In a preferred embodiment, impact-resistant material 100 is arranged in the order shown in FIG. 6. In other words, first elastomer layer 110 is arranged directly adjacent second elastomer layer 120, second elastomer layer 120 is arranged directly adjacent high-tensile strength fibrous material layer 130, and high-tensile strength fibrous material layer is arranged directly adjacent polymer layer 140. In this embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 is the innermost layer of pad 10, such that elastomer layer 110 is arranged directly adjacent the wearer when apparel system 20, which comprises rigid plate 202 and impact-resistant pad 10, is worn by the wearer. More preferably, first elastomer layer 110 has a density sufficiently low to enable it to mold to a shape of the wearer when apparel system 20, which comprises rigid plate 202 and impact-resistant pad 10, is worn by the wearer. Such molding may desirably increase the comfort and stability during use of apparel system 20 comprising rigid plate 202.

First elastomer layer 110 has a first density. The first density is preferably low enough to provide comfort and contouring to a wearer, while high enough to provide some dissipation of the force of impacts. In an exemplary embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 has a density of at least 6 lbs. per cubic foot. In a preferred embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 has a density of at least 6 lbs. per cubic foot, and no more than 29 lbs. per cubic foot. In a more preferred embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 has a density of around approximately 9 lbs. per cubic foot.

Suitable elastomer materials for use in forming first elastomer layer 110 generally include, but are not limited to, urethane rubbers, silicone rubbers, nitrile rubbers, butyl rubbers, acrylic rubbers, natural rubbers, styrene-butadiene rubbers, and the like. Other suitable elastomers will be known to one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein. In general, any suitable elastomer material can be used to form first elastomer layer 110 without departing from the scope of the present invention. Elastomer material may provide impact-resistance by absorbing and/or dissipating the forces of impacts along the surface of the elastomeric material.

In an exemplary embodiment, first elastomer layer comprises a layer of closed cell, low density soft elastomeric foam. In a preferred embodiment, first elastomer layer comprises a layer of AIRILON® padding material, provided by Unequal Technologies Company, of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA.

Second elastomer layer 120 has a second density which is higher than the first density of first elastomer layer 110. The second density is preferably high enough to substantially maintain its structure during impacts, and avoid "bottoming out" (i.e., reaching full compression) during impacts regularly received during athletic activities. Second elastomer layer 120 may provide exception impact-resistance via a "hysteretic damping" mechanism that dissipates impact force by converting impact energy into heat. In an exemplary embodiment, second elastomer layer 120 has a density of at least 30 lbs. per cubic foot. In a preferred embodiment, second elastomer layer 120 has a density of at least 30 lbs. per cubic foot, and no more than 50 lbs. per cubic foot. In a more preferred embodiment, second elastomer layer 120 has a density of around approximately 32 lbs. per cubic foot.

Suitable elastomer materials for use in forming second elastomer layer 120 generally include any of the types of materials recited above with respect to first elastomer layer 110. In an exemplary embodiment, second elastomer layer comprises a layer of closed cell, high density elastomeric foam. In a preferred embodiment, first elastomer layer comprises a layer of ACCELLERON® padding material, provided by Unequal Technologies Company, of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA.

Layer 130 comprises high-tensile strength fibrous material. The high- tensile strength fibers are configured to dissipate the energy of an impact along the length of the fibers, thus spreading out the force along the entire surface of impactresistant material 100.

Suitable high-tensile strength fibrous materials include, but are not limited to, aramid fibers, para-aramid or synthetic fibers, fiberglass, or other high-tensile strength fibers. Other suitable high-tensile strength fiber materials will be known to one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein.

In an exemplary embodiment, layer 130 comprises a layer of elastomeric coated aramid fibers. In a preferred embodiment, layer 130 comprises a layer of TRIDUR® padding material, provided by Unequal Technologies Company, of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA. Alternatively, the fibers used could be KEVLAR® material, provided by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company, of Wilmington, Delaware, USA.

The high-tensile strength fibers of layer 130 may be coated with one or more substances. In an exemplary embodiment, the high-tensile strength fibers 130 are coated with a polymer material. The polymer material may be the same as or different from the polymer material of polymer layer 140. In a preferred embodiment, the polymer material coating high-tensile strength fibrous material layer 130 may be part of polymer layer 140. In an alternative embodiment, the polymer material coating high- tensile strength fibrous material layer 130 is separate from polymer layer 140.

Polymer layer 140 comprises a polymer material. Polymer layer 140 may consist of a single layer of polymer material, or may comprise a plurality of layers of polymer material formed one on top of the other. The polymer material of polymer layer 140 blocks and redirects the energy from impacts laterally along the surface of polymer layer 140.

Suitable polymer materials for use in forming polymer layer 140 generally include natural or synthetic polymers, such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, polyvinyl chloride, nylon, etc. Other suitable polymers will be known to one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein. In an exemplary embodiment, polymer layer 140 comprises multiple layers of polypropylene. In a preferred embodiment, polymer layer 140 comprises a layer of IMPACSHIELD® padding material, provided by Unequal Technologies Company, of Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, USA.

As stated above, the ability to dissipate the force of impacts is of paramount importance in apparel system 20 comprising rigid plate 202 and impactresistant pad 10. Nonetheless, it is also desirable that impact-resistant pad 10 be sufficiently thin to enable comfort, flexibility, and ease of movement during athletic activities. To this end, the layers of impact-resistant material 100 may be limited in thickness to a range that provides adequate impact-resistance without being overly thick.

In an exemplary embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 and second elastomer layer 120 each have a total thickness from 6.0 mm to 12.0 mm. In a more preferred embodiment, first elastomer layer 110 and second elastomer layer 120 each have a total thickness from 8.0 mm to 10 mm. In an exemplary embodiment, high- tensile strength fibrous material layer 130 has a total thickness from 1 to 2 mm. In an exemplary embodiment, polymer layer 140 has a total thickness (including all layers thereof) from 0.2 mm to 1.0 mm. In a more preferred embodiment, polymer layer 140 has total thickness from 0.3 mm to 0.7 mm. In view of the embodiments above, it is desirable that impact-resistant material 100 have a total thickness of no more than 25.0 mm. The total system (110, 120, 130 and 140 combined) preferably ranges from a minimum of 12.5mm to a maximum thickness of 25mm based on the desired level of protection. The remaining components of impact-resistant pad 10 may or may not substantially increase the thickness of impact-resistant pad 10 beyond the thickness of impact-resistant material 100. Impact-resistant pad 10 is not limited to the above-described components, but may include alternative or additional components, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art from the description herein.

In one embodiment, pad 10 further includes a fabric material 50 surrounding the impact-resistant material 100. Fabric material 50 collectively surrounds first elastomer layer 110, second elastomer layer 120, high-tensile strength fibrous material layer 130, and polymer layer 140. Fabric material 50 may be provided to increase the comfort and/or aesthetic appearance of pad 10. Additionally, fabric material 50 may be provided in order to facilitate coupling pad 10 to the wearer. For example, fabric material 50 may accommodate impact-resistant material 100 while providing a connection point for any of the structures set out above for securing pad 10 to the wearer.

While impact-resistant material 100 is described herein as comprising two elastomer layers, it will be understood from the description herein that the invention is not so limited. To the contrary, impact-resistant material 100 may include three or more elastomer layers of varying densities. Where three or more elastomer layers are included, it may be desirable that the elastomer layers each have a different density, to provide a different profile of impact dissipation. It may further be desirable to arrange the three or more elastomer layers in order of their densities, e.g., from lowest density to highest density (in a direction moving away from the wearer). This may assist in achieving the goals of impact dissipation and comfort encompassed by aspects of the present invention.

Additionally, while impact-resistant material 100 is described herein as comprising polymer layer 140, it will be understood from the description herein that in some embodiments, polymer layer 140 may be omitted. In particular, where high- tensile strength fibrous material layer 130 comprises a layer of coated fibers, polymer layer 140 may be unnecessary, and may be omitted.

EXAMPLES OF THE INVENTION

Exemplary embodiments of the present invention were tested with respect to their ability to prevent the occurrence of commotio cordis. The protocol for these tests was approved by the Animal Research Committee of the New England Medical Center as being in conformity with the regulations of the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care, and is outlined below.

The tests described herein were performed using juvenile domesticated male swine, aged 12 to 16 weeks old and weighing 15 to 25 kg (mean + 1.5 kg). The swine were sedated with 12 mg/kg intramuscular ketamine and then anesthetized with inhaled l%-2% isoflurane mixed with oxygen. Anesthesia was maintained with isoflurane. Pressure catheters were placed in the left ventricle. The animals were then placed in a prone position in a sling to approximate physiologic blood flow and cardiac hemodynamics of a human participant in an athletic activity.

Chest wall impacts approximating those occurring during conventional athletic activities were produced using a typical lacrosse ball mounted on a lightweight (20 g) aluminum shaft. The impact object was directed to strike the animal perpendicular to the chest wall, directly over the center of the heart during a time window determined to be during a vulnerability period for producing ventricular fibrillation (VF). Impacts occurring outside of this time window were excluded from the analysis. All impacts occurred at 40 mph.

For each impact-resistant material, the test protocol was the same. The order of impacts with the individual material or a control impact (impact without an impact-resistant material) were randomized. A window of at least two minutes window was provided between impacts. After all impact-resistant materials and a control impact were completed, the materials and control impact were randomized again. Impacts were then repeated. Up to twenty impacts were given for a single animal. All impactresistant materials were cut to a 4 in. by 4 in. square so as to be placed securely against the animal's torso.

The chart below documents percentage incidence of VF relative to total number of impacts. The numbers in the columns for AIRILON®, ACCELLERON®, and IMPACSHIELD® represent a thickness of the respective layer. The label "N/A" indicates that the respective layer was not used.

Table 1 As shown in Table 1, impacts without any impact-resistant material caused VF in 54% of subjects. Impact-resistant materials nos. 1-4, which represent exemplary embodiments of the present invention, significantly decreased the incidence of VF due to impacts. In particular, material no. 1, reduced the incidence of VF down to 8%, material nos. 2 and 3 reduced the incidence of VF down to 20%, and material no. 4 reduced the incidence of VF down to 8%. All four of the above materials include the four layers recited above in the exemplary embodiments of the present invention. The remaining impact- resista nt materials, none of which included all four layers of the exemplary embodiments of the present invention, did not significantly lower the incidence of VF.

The above examples demonstrate that the exemplary embodiments of present embodiment provide increased protection against commotio cordis relative to conventional combinations or formulations of impact-resistant materials. For the maximum tested thickness of the four materials, the incidence of VF was reduced from 54% without impact-resistant material to 5%. Other thinner combinations of the same materials statistically reduced VF compared to no impact-resistant material. Given the test protocols, these results are expected to be transferable and reproducible during live athletic activities. Pads utilizing the disclosed impact-resistant materials are expected to be efficacious in reducing the risk of commotio cordis for athletes.

Although the invention is illustrated and described herein with reference to specific embodiments, the invention is not intended to be limited to the details shown. Rather, various modifications may be made in the details within the scope and range of equivalents of the claims and without departing from the invention.