US20060005306A1 - Chest protector - Google Patents

Chest protector Download PDF

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US20060005306A1
US20060005306A1 US10974791 US97479104A US2006005306A1 US 20060005306 A1 US20060005306 A1 US 20060005306A1 US 10974791 US10974791 US 10974791 US 97479104 A US97479104 A US 97479104A US 2006005306 A1 US2006005306 A1 US 2006005306A1
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layer
visco
elastic polymer
pad
garment
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Abandoned
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US10974791
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Abigail Call
James Roberts
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AJR Communications Inc
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AJR Communications Inc
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A41WEARING APPAREL
    • A41DOUTERWEAR; PROTECTIVE GARMENTS; ACCESSORIES
    • A41D13/00Professional, industrial, or sporting protective garments, e.g. garments affording protection against blows or punches, surgeon's gowns
    • A41D13/05Professional, industrial, or sporting protective garments, e.g. garments affording protection against blows or punches, surgeon's gowns protecting only a particular body part
    • A41D13/0518Chest

Abstract

A chest protector for protecting the wearer from commotio-cortis. A snug-fitting garment, which avoids creating bulk or restricting movement, includes a pocket over the cardiac region of the chest. The pocket holds a protective pad. The pad has at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer. The pad also may include another layer of the visco-elastic polymer, or foam, sandwiching therebetween a rigid plastic layer. Each layer may include either one sheet or more than one sheet. The visco-elastic polymer receives impact energy, converts a portion of the impact energy to heat, and dissipates the heat.

Description

  • This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Application 60/585,677, filed on Jul. 6, 2004, the contents of which are incorporated by reference herein.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to a chest protector, and more particularly to a protective garment for protecting wearers, such as athletes, from a condition known as commotio-cortis.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Athletes and other individuals who are active in the vicinity of hard, fast-moving objects, e.g., baseballs, lacrosse balls, hockey pucks, human fists, or the like, can be subject to a life-threatening injury known as commotio-cortis. Commotio-cortis, or “cardiac concussion” can occur when a person receives a powerful impact force in the cardiac region of the chest, e.g., the force created by being struck in the cardiac region by a fast-moving baseball, a lacrosse ball, a hockey puck, or even a human fist. If the impact occurs when the athlete's heart is between beats, in some cases, the heartbeat can be stopped altogether, leading to rapid loss of blood pressure, unconsciousness, coma, and in some cases death. The occurrence can be especially severe in the case of very young athletes, such as Little League baseball players.
  • Previous attempts have been made to develop protective garments for athletes to wear, e.g., garments supporting a protective quilted pad over the cardiac region, but for a variety of reasons, e.g., the garment is too cumbersome or bulky, or overly-restricts the athlete's range of motion, the protective pad is inadequate, or else the pad shifts out of place during athletic activity, these conventional protective garments are not commonly worn, and the occurrence of commotio-cortis, especially among young athletes, continues to rise.
  • It is desirable therefore, to develop a protective garment that is not bulky, does not restrict a wearer's range of motion, maintains the protective pad in place over the cardiac region, and has adequate protective padding to reduce an impact force to the cardiac region of the chest caused by a fast-moving object such as a baseball, lacrosse ball, hockey puck, fist, or the like, in order to reduce the risk of commotio-cortis.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The present invention, as set forth and broadly embodied herein, is a protective garment developed in accordance with the purposes outlined above, and which substantially obviates one or more of the problems caused by the limitations and disadvantages of the related art.
  • Additional features and advantages of the invention will be set forth in the description which follows, and in part will be apparent from the description, or may be learned by practice of the invention. The advantages of the invention will be realized and attained by the apparatus set forth in the specification, drawings, and claims below.
  • In accordance with the purposes of the invention, as embodied and broadly described herein, a chest protector is provided, including a pad held proximate a cardiac region of a human chest, the pad including at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer structured to absorb impact energy, convert at least a portion of the impact energy to heat, and dissipate the heat.
  • As broadly embodied herein, the pad is held in a pocket over the cardiac region, the pocket being supported in a garment.
  • Preferably the garment is a snug-fitting vest. The garment also can be a strap harness, or a shirt, structured to fit snugly and hold the pocket and the pad in place over the cardiac region of the chest, while not restricting movement of the wearer's arms and shoulders.
  • In accordance with the invention, the visco-elastic polymer of the pad is generally planar, and configured with a number of raised platforms, protrusions, or dots, spaced apart by gaps defined therebetween, the raised platforms being either rectangular, circular, or oval. It is preferable that the visco-elastic polymer is Sorbethane®, a known polymer, which receives an impact force, and converts the impact force to heat. The heat transfers to atmosphere via the open gaps between the raised portions, thereby substantially reducing the impact force applied to the chest.
  • In accordance with the invention, the pad further includes a rigid layer, e.g., plastic, attached to the non-rigid visco-elastic polymer layer. Preferably, a second non-rigid layer also is provided, which preferably is made of the same visco-elastic polymer as the first layer, but which alternatively may be made of a different visco-elastic polymer, or it may be made of foam. The second non-rigid layer may include a single sheet or multiple sheets of visco-elastic polymer or foam. When a second such non-rigid layer is provided, the rigid layer preferably is sandwiched between the non-rigid layers.
  • It is to be understood that both the foregoing general description and the following detailed description are exemplary and explanatory and provide further explanation of the invention, as set forth in the attached claims.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • The accompanying drawings are included to provide a further understanding of the invention, constitute part of the specification, and illustrate preferred embodiments of the invention. Together with the general description above and the detailed description below, the drawings help explain the principles of the invention.
  • FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a protective pad in accordance with the invention;
  • FIG. 2 is an exploded part view of the protective pad of FIG. 1;
  • FIG. 3 is a detailed top view of a protective pad in accordance with the invention.
  • FIG. 3A is a detailed top view of a portion of the pad of FIG. 3.
  • FIG. 3B is a cross-sectional view of the pad portion of FIG. 3A.
  • FIG. 4 is a perspective view of a human torso wearing a protective garment in accordance with the invention, the garment being in the form of a vest, having a protective pad in a pocket over a cardiac region of the torso;
  • FIG. 5A is a perspective view substantially similar to that of FIG. 4, except that the garment is a strap instead of a vest.
  • FIG. 5B is a perspective view substantially similar to that of FIG. 5A, except that the garment is a strap harness.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • Reference will now be made in detail to the present embodiments of the invention, examples of which are illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
  • An exemplary embodiment of the invention is a chest protector, shown broadly in FIG. 1, and designated by reference numeral 10.
  • In accordance with the invention, chest protector 10 includes a protective pad 12, configured to be disposed and held in place over a cardiac region of a human chest. Pad 12, as depicted herein, includes at least one layer 14, preferably having a thickness of 0.38″ to 0.50″. It is within the scope of the invention, however, for the first layer 14 to include more than one sheet of the visco-elastic polymer.
  • A visco-elastic polymer absorbs force of an impact to the polymer, and converts at least a portion of that absorbed impact force to heat. The heat then dissipates by being exchanged with atmosphere via an outer surface of the polymer.
  • Preferably the visco-elastic polymer layer 14 of pad 12 defines a generally planar surface, with a number of adjacent elevated portions, protrusions, or “dots” 16 protruding from the planar surface, preferably 0.12″ in height, the protrusions 16 defining therebetween a series of gaps or spaces 18. The protrusions 16 are preferably generally rectangular, but may also be generally circular, or generally oval in shape.
  • In accordance with the invention, when an impact force is applied to the visco-elastic polymer of the first layer 14 of pad 12, e.g., a fast-moving baseball or lacrosse ball strikes the pad, the impact is received across several of the raised portions 16 (the number of raised portions 16 depends on the size of the impacting object). The impact generates impact energy. The visco-elastic polymer converts at least a portion of the impact energy into heat. The heat is conducted through the pad 12, and dissipated via heat exchange with the atmosphere, across the pad surfaces 15 at gaps 16. Any remaining impact force, which is not converted to heat, is further dissipated by spreading across the first layer 14.
  • Moreover, the first layer can, if desired, include more than one sheet of the visco-elastic polymer.
  • A presently preferred visco-elastic polymer to be used as the material for first layer 14 of pad 12 is Sorbethane®, which is commercially available and well known.
  • Preferably, as broadly embodied herein and depicted in FIG. 2, protective pad 12, includes one or more additional layers 20 and 22. As embodied in FIG. 2, layer 20 is a rigid layer, preferably having substantially the same shape and dimensions as the visco-elastic polymer layer 14. Rigid layer 20 is made preferably of hard plastic or a suitable substitute material that is both rigid and lightweight. It is further preferred that another non-rigid layer 22 be provided, with rigid layer 20 being sandwiched between the two non-rigid layers, 14 and 22. The second non-rigid layer 22 has substantially the same shape and dimensions as first layer 14 and rigid layer 20.
  • It is preferable that second non-rigid layer 22 be made of a visco-elastic polymer, and preferably the same visco-elastic polymer used to construct the first layer 14. When the second non-rigid layer 22 is a visco-elastic polymer, it is generally planar, and can be smooth, as shown in FIG. 2, or have raised portions and gaps, the same as the first layer of visco-elastic polymer. Moreover, the second layer can include more than one sheet of the visco-elastic polymer. As was the case with first layer 14, the preferred visco-elastic polymer, based on testing, is Sorbethane®. A second layer of Sorbethane® converts a larger amount of the impact energy to heat, and dissipates the heat, then can be accomplished with only a single layer of Sorbethane®. The invention is not limited to use of Sorbethane® in the second non-rigid layer, however, or even to using the same visco-elastic polymer as in the first layer. It is possible to use a different visco-elastic polymer for the second non-rigid layer 22, and it is further conceivable to use another material altogether in the second non-rigid layer 22, for example, foam. Although foam will not perform the same force/heat conversion as a visco-elastic polymer, it nevertheless provides additional cushioning to help absorb and dissipate a portion of the impact force and, hence, further protect the cardiac region of the wearer's chest. Moreover, the second non-rigid layer can consist of more than one sheet of foam. An embodiment of the invention with multiple sheets of foam forming the inner layer, will be more bulky than an embodiment with one or more sheets of visco-elastic polymer, but as a trade-off, should be lighter in weight.
  • In accordance with the invention, a garment 30 is provided, wearable by an athlete to be protected, for supporting a pocket 32 over the athlete's cardiac region. The protective pad 12 is configured to be inserted into and held in place inside the pocket 32. Pocket 32 can either be opened and closed, or it can be sealed shut. An openable and closeable pocket 32 is the preferred embodiment, since it allows pad 12 to be removed periodically to be washed, repaired or replaced.
  • As embodied in FIGS. 4, 5A, and 5B, the garment 30 can have one of several possible configurations, depending on the preference of the wearer.
  • Preferably, garment 30 is configured in the shape of a vest 34, as shown in FIG. 4. Referring to FIG. 4, vest 34 is a tight, sleeveless garment, fitting snugly against the wearer's torso, so as to not create excessive bulk beneath the wearer's outer garments, and also so as to not restrict arm or shoulder movement. The vest 34 preferably is made of a fabric capable of stretching to conform to the shape of the wearer's torso, and also capable of wicking perspiration or other moisture away from the wearer's skin. Preferred fabrics include Lycra®, or a blend of Lycra® and nylon.
  • Alternatively, garment 30 can be configured in the form of a single strap 36, as shown in FIG. 5A or a strap harness 38, as shown in FIG. 5B. A strap or strap harness may be preferable to some athletes, because of even more reduced bulk and less restriction of movement. When a strap harness 38 or single strap 36 are used as garment 30, nylon is the preferred fabric. It is further preferred that pocket 32 be made of a breathable fabric to allow airflow therethrough. A suitable fabric is Breath-O-Prene®, which is known and commercially available.
  • It is further preferred that, whether the garment is a vest 34, strap 36, or a strap harness 38, any connectors needed to hold portions of the garment together should be low profile hooks and nylon loops, which provide good peel and shear strength in order to hold fast, while presenting a low profile to avoid snagging on the wearer's outer garments.
  • A protective garment configured as broadly described above, i.e., a snug-fitting vest with a pocket over the cardiac region of the chest, holding a protective pad comprising two generally planar layers of the same visco-elastic polymer (i.e., Sorbethane®), with at least the outer layer having a plurality of raised protrusions with spaces defined therebetween, and a rigid plastic layer sandwiched between the two Sorbethane® layers reduces an impact force by approximately 45%. Example 1 below depicts the results of a comparative test, comparing the force reduction realized by a protective garment in accordance with the present invention, in comparison with no protection whatsoever, and with a conventional protective garment. Examples 2 and 3 below depict the results of tests on different embodiments of the present invention, realizing force reduction of approximately 41%-58%.
  • EXAMPLE NO. 1
  • A baseball was thrown by a standard pitching machine at various speeds, against a vertical surface. A sensor was fixed to the vertical surface, connected to a computer processor programmed with speed and force analysis software, to measure the impact force. A series of tests was conducted, pitching the ball against the vertical surface (1) while it was unprotected; (2) while it was protected by a pad of the invention, consisting of an outer layer of a single sheet of 0.5″ thick Sorbethane®, a middle layer of rigid plastic, and an inner layer of a single sheet of 0.5″ thick Sorbethane®, designated, for testing purposes, the B-series of the invention, and (3) while it was protected by a prior art pad, consisting of quilted padding sewn into a vest. In each test, the speed of the ball and the resultant impact force was measured. For purposes of comparison, each measured impact force was normalized to a ball speed of 60 mph. Table 1 below lists the ball test, the type of protection, the actual ball speed, the normalized ball speed, the impact force felt by the sensor on the surface at the actual ball speed and the impact force at the normalized speed. The percentage of force reduction was calculated by comparing the impact force felt in the protected cases, compared to the impact force felt in the unprotected cases.
    TABLE 1
    Normal-
    Ball ized Actual Normal- Reduc-
    Test Type of Speed Ball Speed Force ized tion
    No. Protection (mph) (mph) (lbs) Force (lbs) (%)
    A-1 None 54.90 60 1370 1497.3 0.2
    A-2 None 57.05 60 1430 1504.0 −0.2
    Average 1500.7 0.0
    B-1 invention 59.87 60 814 815.8 45.6
    B-2 invention 58.42 60 813 835 44.4
    Average 824 45.0
    C-1 prior art 61.38 60 1450 1417.4 5.5
    C-2 prior art 58.19 60 1330 1371.3 8.6
    Average 1394.4 7.1
  • As can be seen from the above data, a 60 mph baseball, striking an unprotected vertical surface, e.g., an athlete's chest, applies an average impact force of approximately 1500 lbs. An athlete wearing a prior art protective garment, with quilted padding sewn into the fabric of a vest, obtained only a 7% reduction of force, and still received an average force of 1394 lbs. An athlete wearing the protective garment according to the present invention of the B-series, as broadly described above, should receive a 45% reduction of the impact force, and receive an impact force reduced to 824 lbs.
  • EXAMPLE NO. 2
  • In another test, the same testing apparatus described above was used to test a second embodiment of the present invention, having an outer layer of two (2) 0.5″ thick sheets of Sorbethane®, a middle rigid plastic layer, and an inner layer of a single ⅜″ thick sheet of foam, designated, for testing purposes, the D-series of the invention. Table 2 lists the actual ball speed, the normalized ball speed (at 60 mph), the actual impact force, the normalized impact force, and the percent of force reduction.
    TABLE 2
    Normal-
    Ball ized Actual Normal- Reduc-
    Test Type of Speed Ball Speed Force ized tion
    No. Protection (mph) (mph) (lbs) Force (lbs) (%)
    D1-4 Invention 55.95 60 832 892.3 39.3
    D2-5 Invention 61.90 60 892 864.7 41.2
    D3-6 Invention 60.86 60 866 853.7 41.9
    Average 870.2 40.8
  • EXAMPLE NO. 3
  • In a third test, the same testing apparatus was used to test a third embodiment of the present invention, having an outer layer of a single sheet of 0.5% thick Sorbethane®, a middle rigid plastic layer, and an inner layer of two (2) ⅜″ sheets of foam, designated, for testing purposes, the E-series of the invention. Table 3 lists the same types of data listed above.
    TABLE 3
    Normal-
    Ball ized Actual Normal- Reduc-
    Test Type of Speed Ball Speed Force ized tion
    No. Protection (mph) (mph) (lbs) Force (lbs) (%)
    E1-7 Invention 59.81 60 610 611.9 58.4
    E2-8 Invention 60.14 60 622 620.6 57.8
    E3-9 Invention 57.68 60 602 626.2 57.4
    Average 870.2 57.9
  • As can be seen, an athlete wearing the protective garment according to the present invention of the D-series, as broadly described above, should receive an approximate 41% reduction of the impact force, and an athlete wearing a protective garment according to the E-series, as broadly described above, should receive an approximate 58% reduction of the impact of force. The E-series of the invention, having two sheets of foam, may be more bulky than, for example, the B-series, but as a trade-off, should weigh less than the B-series.
  • The present invention reduces of eliminates many of the problems associated with conventional protective garments, by providing a snug garment that is not bulky and does not restrict the wearer's range of motion, with a protective pad, held in place in a pocket over the cardiac region of the chest, which does not shift out of place during athletic activity, and which is capable of receiving an impact, converting impact energy into heat, and dissipating the heat, thereby obtaining a force reduction of about 45%-58%, and thereby reducing the risk of commotio-cortis.
  • It will be apparent to those skilled in the art that modifications and variations may be made to the structure of the present invention without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. It is intended, therefore, that the present invention cover such modifications and variations, provided they fall within the scope of the attached claims and their legal equivalents.
  • Other embodiments of the invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art from consideration of the specification and practice of the invention disclosed herein. It is intended that the specification and examples be considered as exemplary only, with the true scope and spirit of the invention being established by the following claims and their equivalents.

Claims (42)

1. A chest protector, comprising:
a pad disposed proximate a cardiac region of the chest, said pad comprising at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer structured to absorb impact energy, convert at least a portion of the impact energy to heat, and dissipate the heat.
2. The chest protector of claim 1, wherein said pad further comprises a second layer.
3. The chest protector of claim 1, wherein said pad further comprises a rigid layer proximate to said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer.
4. The chest protector of claim 3, wherein said rigid layer is sandwiched between said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer and a second layer.
5. The chest protector of claim 1, further comprising a garment having a pocket disposed proximate the cardiac region where the garment is worn, and wherein said pad is removably inserted in said pocket.
6. The chest protector of claim 1, wherein said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer comprises a plurality of adjacent elevated portions defining spaces therebetween.
7. The chest protector of claim 6, wherein said elevated portions are substantially rectangular.
8. The chest protector of claim 2, wherein said second layer is foam.
9. The chest protector of claim 2, wherein said second layer is a visco-elastic polymer.
10. A protective garment, comprising:
a protective pad comprised of at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer structured to absorb impact energy, convert at least a portion of the impact energy to heat, and dissipate the heat; and
holding means for holding the protective pad above a body portion to be protected.
11. The protective garment of claim 10, wherein said pad further comprises a second layer of the visco-elastic polymer.
12. The protective garment of claim 10, wherein said pad further comprises a rigid layer proximate said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer.
13. The protective garment of claim 12, wherein said rigid layer is sandwiched between said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer and a second layer.
14. The protective garment of claim 10, wherein said pad is removably inserted in a pocket provided in said holding means.
15. The protective garment of claim 10, wherein said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer comprises a plurality of adjacent elevated portions defining spaces therebetween.
16. The protective garment of claim 15, wherein said elevated portions are substantially rectangular.
17. The protective garment of claim 10, wherein the body part to be protected is a cardiac region of a human chest.
18. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein said second layer is foam.
19. The protective garment of claim 11, wherein said second layer is a visco-elastic polymer.
20. A commotio-cortis protection system, comprising:
a garment worn by an athlete, comprising a pocket over a cardiac region of the athlete's chest;
a protective pad provided in said pocket, comprising at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer, and a rigid layer proximate said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer.
21. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 20, wherein said visco-elastic polymer absorbs impact energy, and coverts at least a portion of the impact energy to heat.
22. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 20, wherein said visco-elastic polymer comprises raised portions for receiving the impact energy, and spaces between said raised portions for dissipating the heat.
23. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 22, wherein said protective pad comprises a plurality of adjacent raised portions.
24. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 23, wherein said raised portions are generally rectangular.
25. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 20, wherein said garment comprises a vest.
26. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 20, wherein said garment comprises a strap harness.
27. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 20, further comprising a second layer, with said rigid layer sandwiched between said at least one layer and said second layer.
28. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 27, wherein said second layer is foam.
29. The commotio-cortis protection system of claim 27, wherein said second layer is a visco-elastic polymer.
30. A commotio-cortis protection garment, comprising:
a pocket over a cardiac region of an athlete's chest combined with means for holding the pocket over the cardiac region; and
a pad inserted in said pocket, said pad comprising at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer structure to absorb impact energy of a blow to the cardiac region, convert at least a portion of the impact energy to heat energy, and dissipate the heat energy.
31. The commotio-cortis protection garment of claim 30, wherein said holding means comprises a vest.
32. The commotio-cortis protection garment of claim 30, wherein said holding means comprises a strap.
33. The commotio cordis protection garment of claim 30, wherein said pad is removable from said pocket.
34. A method of protecting a cardiac region of a human chest, comprising:
positioning over the cardiac region of the chest a pad including at least one layer of a visco-elastic polymer; and
upon receiving a force, the pad converting at least a portion of the force to heat, and disseminating the heat.
35. The method of claim 34, wherein said pad further comprises a rigid layer and a second layer.
36. The method of claim 34, wherein said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer comprises a plurality of adjacent elevated portions defining spaces therebetween.
37. The method of claim 34, wherein said pad is positioned over the cardiac region by insertion into a pocket of a garment.
38. The method of claim 35, wherein said second layer is foam.
39. The method of claim 38, wherein said second layer comprises a plurality of sheets of foam.
40. The method of claim 35, wherein said second layer is a visco-elastic polymer.
41. The method of claim 40, wherein said second layer comprises a plurality of sheets of visco-elastic polymer.
42. The method of claim 34, wherein said at least one layer of visco-elastic polymer comprises a plurality of sheets of visco-elastic polymer.
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US9968511B2 (en) 2006-03-15 2018-05-15 Hill-Rom Services Pte. Ltd. High frequency chest wall oscillation system
USD834718S1 (en) 2017-02-22 2018-11-27 Hill-Rom Services Pte. Ltd. Outer covering for a percussive high frequency chest wall oscillation system

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