A device for air-massage This invention relates to a device for air-massage in which a plurality of air inflatable bags each having air-feeding and exhausting ports are arranged and a compressed air is fed to and exhausted from each bag for producing varied movements to have an efficient massage effect on an outer body surface.
Heretofore, various types of massaging devices have been proposed in one of which an air inflatable bag made of a flexible material such as rubber is wound around a body portion such as an arm or a leg and the ba$ is inflated an~ deflated with a compressed air to apply and release pressure on a blood vessel, thereby to facilitate a circulation of blood (mainly venous blood and lymph~ for massage.
The conventional device for air-massage, however, has such the disadvantages that the air bag is inflated into a cylindrical form when filled with the air, so that an arched surface of the bag comes into uneven contact with the body portion. As a result, a pressure is localized with a mininnJm stimulus to give uncomfortable -feeling to the body portion. In other words, over all even contact of the inflated bag with the body portion is difficult to obtain, so that a satisfactory massage effect may not be achieved.
Further, when a muscle of the diseased part becomes tense and stiff causing extremely bad flow of blood and lymph, a simple press and release of the diseased part may afford instantaneous comfort but not sufficient massage effect.
~13334;~7 111e inVentOr hLIS 110~ found out that a good massage effect may be obtained by ~n assembly comprising a plurality of air inflatable bags to whicll air is altcrnately fcd or e~lausted for giving a variety to the pressing or releasing positions on a blood vessel S of the diseased part, ~md a suitable chan~e-over valve mechanism connected to air-feeding means for continuous air-feeding and exhausting operations.
As tlle result of further diligent study for developing an air-massage device having a change-over valve mechanism which eliminates all the disadvantages oE the conventional air-massage devices described hereinbefore and readily produces a variety of massage effects in spite of its simple construction, the inventor has now improved a device for air-massage containing a rotatable change-over valve mechanism capable of ensuring communication of any one of theair-feeding and exhausting ports with an air-feeding means. The improvement resides in that the change-over valve mechanism is provided with a set of distributing plates having two or three air-feeding - - and exhausting ports or channnels circumferentially spaced apart equiangularly, for example at about 120, the distributing plates are fitted concentrically with rotators each having bored passages which allow the air-feeding and exhausting ports of the distributing plates to communicate selectively with the air-feeding means or air-exhausting means, and the rotators are driven simultaneously to rotate by a mo~or. ~IUS, an air is fed ~o one of air-inflatable ~
bags through one of rotators while air is exhausted from other one of inflatable bags through another rotator, producing a variety of massage treatment and its effect.
, Another type of device for medical treatment employing various elastic elements is also known in order to obtain the desired physical effects similar to those of finger-pressure therapy and the acupuncture. The devices of this type, however, has been designed to treat a local site of a human body and may not be employed for a general use. Even if such a device is employed for massage, it is too difficult to obtain a good massage effect making the stream of blood - and lymph better.
~?le inventor h~s also developed an efficicnt and economical air-massage device which utilizes an elastic element having a conventional medical effect, thereby to allow the reduction of an air quantity fed into the air inflatable bag so that a small type of air-feeding and S e~lausting unit with a less capacity of a compressor may be employed.
Namely, it has been found out that a comfortable massage effect may be achieved by a device which combines an elastic contacting element for a direct massage action to a body portion with an air inflatable bag for inflation and deflation with a compressed air, and is wound around a body portion sùch as a diseased site for feeding and exhausting air in relation to the bag. Thus, the elastic element comes into an even contact with the body portion and makes the massage effect uniform and comfortable.
Further, it has been found out that the attached equipments of the device may become smaller because the higher massage effect may be obtained with a less capacity of the bag using a less volume of the air.
The elastic element of the device may be constructed as another air ! bag which is optionally filled with an adjustable volume of air.
Preferably, the elastic element is provided with a tongued and grooved face on a surface in contact with a body portion for enhancement of a massage effect. In this case, the element may be made of an elastic material such as rubber or the like. Alternatively, the elastic element may be made of an elastic plate provided with a plurality of projections on the surface in contact with the body portion.
Further alternative is to provide the elastic element with a plurality of independent air-filled projections on the surface.
Accordingly, a general object of the invention is to provide a device for air-massage having a change-over valve mechanism, which achieves smooth operation and a variety of air-feeding and exhausting operations for a bag assembly combining a plurality of air inflatable bags, in spite of its simple construction.
~i333~7 princ;.pal object of the invention is to provide a device for air-massage ~}liCIl co~ rises a plurality of associatecl air inf].atable bags each having its own port for air-feeding and exllausting, a change-over valve mec}lanism connected to the bags for air-feedin~ and exhausting in relation to each bag and air-feeding and exhaus~ing me~ms attached to the change-over valve mechanism, said bags being contacted ~.~ith a given body portion and being moved sequentially in a wavy ~anner through an operation of said change-over valve mechanism for massaging an outer body surface.
One way of carrying out the invention is descrihed in detail below with reference to drawings which illustrate preferred embodiments, in which :- .
Figure 1 is a systemaLic diagram showing a fundamental construction - 15 of the air-massage device according to the invention, Figure 2 is a perspective view of one embodiment of the air inflatable bag used in the invention, Figure 3 is a cross sectional view of the bag taken along the line III - III of Figure 2, Figure 4 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the bag, Figu.-e 5 is a cross sectional view of the bag taken aiong the line V - V of Figure 4, Figure 6 is a perspective view of another embodiment of the bag used in the device according to the invention, Figure 7 is a pictorial view of the device of Figure 6 on actual`
use, Figure 8 is a perspective view of the modified bag of Figure 6, Figure 9 to 11 show different embodiments of the elastic element used with the air-inflatable bags, Figures 12 (a) and (b) show one embodiment of the distributing plate of the change-over valve mechanism used in the air-massage device according to the invention, wherein Figure 12(a) is a plan view and Figure 12(b) is a sectional view taken along the .line XII - XII of Figure 12(a), Figure 13~a), ~b) and ~c) S]lOW rotators adapted to the distributing plate shohn in Figure 12, wherein Figure 13~a) is a plan view, ~133347 I~:igure 13(l)) is a sectional vicw ta~cn along the line XIII -~III of ~:igure 13(a) and Figure 13(c) is a bot~om view, Fi~lre 14 is a plan view showing operational condition of the change-over valve mechanism sho-~n in Figure 12 and 13, Figure 15(a) to (f) are schematic views sho~ing operational conditions of the bags operated through the change-over valve mechanism sho~n in Figure 14, Figure 16 is a pictorial view of the device of the invention on actual use, and ~igure 17 and 18 are partially broken perspective views of other embodiments of the device according to the invention.
Figure 1 is a systematic view showing an overall construction of the air-massage device according to the invention, in which the reference numerals lOa and lOb represent bag assemblies combining a plurality of air-inflatable bags. Each air-inflatable bag 12 of the bag assemblies lOa and lOb is connected to pipes 16a and 16b derived in branch from the change-over valves mechanism 14a and 14b to which is supplied through pressure regulator means 20a and 20b a compressed air generated by a compressor 18. The re~ulated air pressurc is detected by pressure gauges 21a and 21~.
Figures 2 and 3 show the preferred embodiments of the air inflatable bag 12 used in the device of the invention, in which the reference nwneral 12 represents a flat air inflatable bag made pf air i~permeable material. The bag 12 is provided with an port 22 for connection with an air tube 24.
One surface of the bag 12 is combined with an elastic element 26 which may be constructed as another air bag. ~hen the elastic element 26 is constructed as the air bag, the surface in contact with the body portion may be flat (Figs. 2 and 3~ or may be provided with ~he tonguecl -and grooved portions 28 for better massage effect (Figs. 4 and 5).
Further, the air bag 26 used as the elastic element is provided with an aiT port 30 for adjustment of the air volume so as to con~rol elasticity of the elastic bag elemen~ 26.
In accor(lculce ~ith tlle air inflatable bag thus constructed, the elastic elelllent 26 in contact with the body portion is independently arrange(l in relation to the bag 12 movable with the air pressure, so that ~lifoml movement throughout the elastic element 26 is obtained, effecting the e~en massage action on the body ~ortion contacted with the 5 bag. ~loreover, in accord~mce with the invention the role of the bag 12 is only to put air-pressure indirectly onto the elastic element 26 for movement of the latter, so that the total volume inside the bag 12 may be extremely reduced and that the volume of the air used becomes very small. As a result, a compac~ type of air-compressor may be employed for air feeding.
Figure 6 shows the device according to the invention, in which aplurality of the air inflatable bags 12 are combined ~ith the single elastic element 26. Thus, in this embodiment the bags 12 are provided with their own ports 22 for the air-tubes 24 which are connected to the air source through a change-over valve mechanism 14 ~see Figure 1), so that the time difference may be given between the adjacent bags and the wavy movement of the elastic element 26 may be obtained, resulting in the higher massage effect. In one utili-zation of ~his embodiment, as shown in Fig. 7, a plurality of thebags 12a~ 12b, 12c ... are arranged in parallel in the shape of a mat, on the ~hole upper surface of which is partially or wholly spread the elastic element 26 and the body may be laid on the latter in order to enjoy a comfortable massage effect throughout the whole body. Moreover, in the case of using a plurality of the aîr inflatable bags 12, the elastic element 26 may be combined with a receiving bag 34 having a plurality of receptive areas 32 for holding these bags 12 so that the connecting and disconnecting operations of the bags 12 may be performed conveniently and the device may be conveniently handled.
- Figures ~ to 11 show various embodiments of the elastic element 26 used in the device of the invention. In the elastic element 26 of Figure 9 there are arranged a plurality of projections 36 made of flexible rubber or plastic material. In Figure 10, the elastic element 26 with a plurality of the projections 38 is fabricated from relatively hard rubber or plastic material. ~hile in Figure 11, ~ .
334'7 the elastic elem~nt 26 is provided with the projections 40 containing thercin a fluid such as gas and water, a heating or cooling material in sol or gel fo~l or a fluid in a particulate form, the projections being made of flexible ru~hcr or plastic material.
The air inflatable bag 12 may be wound and fixed around the diseased part ~ith the elastic element 26 in contact and air is fed to and exhausted from the bag 12, as described hereinafter, thereby achieving an even massage effect over the ~lole diseased part around whicll the elastic clement 26 is wound.
Besides the general usage of winding the bag 12 around the body portion, it may be constructed in the shape of the mattress for protection of bedsores or shaped into the article surrounding a given portion, giving a variety of massage effects.
Alternatively, in the embodiments of Figures 2 to 5, a heating or cooling fluid material such as hot or cold water may be introduced into the elastic element 26 in the form of air bag for alleviating a load of body surface and scattering pressure points as well as producing a warming or cooling action, ~hereby enhancing the massage effect. Instead-of introduc~ion of the hot or cold water, a heating or cooling element especially in a gel state may be filled into the inside of the elastic bag element 26 for the similar effect.
The change-over valve mechanism 14a, 14b used in the device of the invention will be described hereinbelow.
As shown in Figures 12 and 13, the change-over valve mechanism 14a, 14b comprises a distributing plate 44 for air-feeding and e~lausting and two rotators 46 and 46' fitted to the distributing plate 44. Through the distributing plate 44 is bored a pair of tllree air-feeding and exhausting ports 42a, 42b, 42c and 42'a, 42'b, 42'c circumferentially spaced apart equiangularly at 120 as well as passages 43 and 43' communicating with air-feeding pipes 16a and 16b.
` ~.31~7 l~rough ~he rotators 46 ~nd 46', on the other hand, are bored passages 48 and 48' con~nulicating with an air-feeding system as ~ell as passages 50 and 50' communicating with an air-exhausting system The rotators 46 and 46' are, as shown in Figure 13, provided at their peripheries with gears 45, 45' and one of the rotators 46 is connected at its axis to a driving shaft of a motor M (not shown).
Thus, the pair of rotators 46 and 46' may be rotated simultaneously at the same speed through meshing of the gears 45 and 45'.
Now, the operation of each air-inflatable bag 12 of the bag assemblies lOa, lOb using the change-over valve mechanism 14 will be described hereinbelow.
As shown in Figure 14, when the change-over valve mechanism as shown in Figures 12 and 13 is employed the pair of rotators 46, 46' are rotated in the direction as shown by arrows so that the air-feeding and exhausting ports 42a to 42c and 42a' to 42c' communicated through the pipes 16a, 16b with each air chamber of bag assen~lies lOa and lOb may be sequentially con~nicated with ! the air-feeding passages 48, 48' and air-exhausting passages 50, 50' in the rotators 46, 46'. Thus, the air-feeding and exhausting operation may be achieved, as shown in Figures 15a to 15f.
If the change-over valve mechanisms thusly constructed are connected in parallel to the same air-supplying source for operating two sets of the air-inflatable bags, one of which is operated for air-feeding while the other is operated for air-exhausing, then the alternate and sequentialoperations may be smoothly - achieved. Upon operation of this type of the device, pressure regulators 20a and 20b may be arranged for adjusting the supplied air pressure. Thus, the massage on the body portion using di~erent massaging pressures or the usage of the two sets of the air-inflatable bags of different volumes may be possible so that the single device may serve as two air-massage devices.
1~33347 Fllrtlle~riore, a plurali.ty of the bags or bag assemblies may be wo~ld aro~d arms and/or l.egs for simultaneous air-feeding and e~uaust:ing, thereby affording a variety of good massage treatments and their effects. In this embodiment, the rotators of the change-over valve mechanisms may be rotated in any direction and/or at any speed so that any desired massage treatment may be readily achieved. ~Figure 16).
Figure 17 shows the utilization example of the device, in which the air inflatable bag 12 or the bag assembly 10 is shaped into an article such as a shoe surrounding a given body portion such as a leg, to the partial or whole inner surface of which is connected the elastic element 26. With use of this embodiment the better massage effect may be expected for the free end portions of the 15 human body.
Figure 18 illustrates another utilization example of the device, in which a plurality of air inflatable bags 12a to 12c are arranged separably, which are combined with the respective independent elastic elements 26a to 26c and attached to different body portions for setting the air pressure of each bag 12a - 12c in time difference and causing wavy movement.
Furthermore, in accordance with the invention the elastic element 26 may be releasably combined with the air inflatable bag 12 or bag assembly 10, thereby a number of combinations are possible between the various embodiments of the elastic elements 26 and the air inflatable bags 12, giving a wide variety of massage effects.
Besides the foregoing embodiments, the change-over valve mechanism may comprise a plurality of solenoid valves provided for a plurality of air-feeding means communicated with a common compressed air source and the air-feeding means may be communicated .
with a plurality of air-feeding and exhausting ports of the air inflatable bags for controlling the operation through the solenoid.
li333 ~7 l~e device according to the invention has a simple construction which can be manufactured at a low cost and the size and cost of the attached equipments may be reduced, so that the device can be readily and conveniently employed not only for an expert but also for a general hwne use.
The foregoing is to be considered as descriptive and not limitative as many changes and modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.