US20070254787A1 - Training apparatus - Google Patents

Training apparatus Download PDF

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Publication number
US20070254787A1
US20070254787A1 US11/707,591 US70759107A US2007254787A1 US 20070254787 A1 US20070254787 A1 US 20070254787A1 US 70759107 A US70759107 A US 70759107A US 2007254787 A1 US2007254787 A1 US 2007254787A1
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US
United States
Prior art keywords
user
roller
seat
posture
front
Prior art date
Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US11/707,591
Inventor
Keiichi Matsubara
Hisashi Mori
Toru Higuchi
Yasuhiro Noguchi
Setsu Muraki
Masatoshi Mukai
Daisuke SHIJO
Kojiro Minami
Atsushi Yamazaki
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Konami Sports Club Co Ltd
Original Assignee
Konami Sports Club Co Ltd
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to JP2006-124419 priority Critical
Priority to JP2006124419A priority patent/JP4150406B2/en
Application filed by Konami Sports Club Co Ltd filed Critical Konami Sports Club Co Ltd
Assigned to KONAMI SPORTS & LIFE CO., LTD. reassignment KONAMI SPORTS & LIFE CO., LTD. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HIGUCHI, TORU, MATSUBARA, KEIICHI, MINAMI, KOJIRO, MORI, HISASHI, MUKAI, MASATOSHI, MURAKI, SETSU, NOGUCHI, YASUHIRO, SHIJO, DAISUKE, YAMAZAKI, ATSUSHI
Publication of US20070254787A1 publication Critical patent/US20070254787A1/en
Application status is Abandoned legal-status Critical

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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B23/00Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body
    • A63B23/035Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously
    • A63B23/04Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously for lower limbs
    • A63B23/0494Exercising apparatus specially adapted for particular parts of the body for limbs, i.e. upper or lower limbs, e.g. simultaneously for lower limbs primarily by articulating the knee joints
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B21/00Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices
    • A63B21/005Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using electromagnetic or electric force-resisters
    • A63B21/0058Exercising apparatus for developing or strengthening the muscles or joints of the body by working against a counterforce, with or without measuring devices using electromagnetic or electric force-resisters using motors
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2208/00Characteristics or parameters related to the user or player
    • A63B2208/02Characteristics or parameters related to the user or player posture
    • A63B2208/0228Sitting on the buttocks
    • A63B2208/0233Sitting on the buttocks in 90/90 position, like on a chair
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63BAPPARATUS FOR PHYSICAL TRAINING, GYMNASTICS, SWIMMING, CLIMBING, OR FENCING; BALL GAMES; TRAINING EQUIPMENT
    • A63B2225/00Other characteristics of sports equipment
    • A63B2225/09Adjustable dimensions

Abstract

A training apparatus comprises a seat 32 mounted on an apparatus body, a training mechanism disposed in front of the seat 32 and provided with a mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user, a load-applying unit adapted to apply a braking force to a movement of the training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner, and a tilt adjustment unit adapted to tiltingly move a front end of the seat in a vertical direction. The training apparatus of the present invention allows a user, even an elderly person or a person who requires assistance to readily sit on the seat without an unnatural or forced physical posture.

Description

    BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • 1. Field of the Invention
  • The present invention relates to a training apparatus for training leg muscles of a user in a sitting posture through bending and stretching exercises about legs to be performed while resisting a load imposed therefrom.
  • 2. Description of the Related Art
  • Heretofore, there has been known a training apparatus (multi-exercise machine) as disclosed in Japanese Utility Model Publication No. 07-17325 (“Patent Publication 1”). This training apparatus comprising a seat mounted on a given frame in an angularly adjustable manner with respect to a horizontal plane, a V-shaped arm mounted to the frame at a position adjacent to a front edge of the seat in a swingable manner about an anchor end thereof, a pair of roller pads (foot-holding pad members) fixed to respective distal ends of the V-shaped arm to extend horizontally in parallel relation to each other, and a weight detachably attached, particularly, to a frontward one the roller pads.
  • In use of the above training apparatus as a leg extension apparatus (apparatus adapted to impose a load on legs of a user during stretching of the legs), a user who sits on the seat adjusted at a given angle bends and stretches the legs while inserting the legs between the pair of roller pads. During the stretching of the legs, a load of the roller pad with the weight can be imposed on the legs so as to train leg muscles of the user.
  • The training apparatus can also be used as a leg curl apparatus (apparatus adapted to impose a load on legs of a user during bending, i.e., curling-up, of the legs). In this case, a user who lies prone (lies on the stomach) on the seat set in a horizontal position in its entirety including a backrest curls and uncurls the legs while inserting the legs between the pair of roller pads. During the curling-up of the legs, a load of the roller pad with the weight can be imposed on the legs so as to train leg muscles of the user.
  • Japanese Utility Model Publication No. 07-45241 (“Patent Publication 2”) discloses a leg-muscle training apparatus comprising a downwardly-extending arm adapted to be swingably moved about a support point to set its initial posture, a pad-angle control plate attached at a distal end of the arm in a swingable manner about a pivot, and a roller pad mounted to the pad-angle control plate. The pad-angle control plate is formed with a plurality of perforated holes along a circle having a center at an axis of the pivot, and the arm is formed with a through-hole at a position corresponding to the perforated holes. An initial angular position of the roller pad about the pivot can be set by inserting a pin into the through-hole and a selected one of the perforated holes.
  • In the training apparatus disclosed in the Patent Publication 2, the initial posture of the arm and the initial angular position of the roller pad about the pivot can be variously changed so as to freely adjust an initial height position of the roller pad depending on user's gender, body height, physical conditions, etc., to provide enhanced versatility to the training apparatus.
  • In the leg-muscle training apparatuses disclosed in the Patent Publications 1 and 2, a seat is fixed in a tilted position from the beginning. Thus, a user who intends to sit on the seat is obliged to move his/her hip to a higher position to get thereon. This is inconvenient for users, particularly, elderly persons or persons who require assistance. Moreover, each of the training apparatuses employs a detachable weight serving as a means to apply a load to the roller pad. Thus, the weight has to be replaced with a lighter or heavier weight, or added another weight or partly removed the weight, every time a user adjusts the load of the roller pad depending on physical conditions, etc. This operation is time-consuming to cause difficulty in quickly responding to user's request.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • In view of the above problems, it is an object of the present invention to provide a training apparatus capable of allowing a user, even an elderly person or a person who requires assistance to readily sit on a seat, and adjusting a load to be applied to a roller pad, in a significantly easy manner, so as to quickly offer leg-muscle training in a desired state.
  • In order to achieve the above object, according to the present invention, it is provided a training apparatus which comprises a seat mounted on an apparatus body, a training mechanism disposed in front of the seat and provided with a mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user, a load-applying unit adapted to apply a braking force to a movement of the training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner, and a tilt adjustment unit adapted to tiltingly move a front end of the seat in a vertical direction.
  • The above training apparatus of the present invention is equipped with the tilt adjustment unit adapted to tiltingly move the front end of the seat in a vertical direction, so that, when a user gets on the training apparatus, the seat can be set in a horizontal position to allow the user to readily sit thereon. Thus, the need for sitting on a seat while moving the user's hip upwardly as in the sitting movement required for the conventional apparatuses can be eliminated, and the user can readily sit on the seat as if sits on a usual chair. This is significantly helpful for users, particularly for elderly persons or persons who require assistance. After the user sits on the seat, the front end of the seat can be tiltingly moved upwardly to a position allowing for training.
  • Further, in the above training apparatus, the load-applying unit is adapted to apply a braking force (i.e., load) to a movement of the training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner. This makes it possible to electrically control the load so as to adjust the load readily and quickly.
  • Thus, the conventional problems that a load cannot be adjusted without replacing a weight with another one or adding/removing a weight, and this time-consuming operation causes difficulty in quickly responding to user's request, can be solved to provide significantly enhanced usability and versatility to the training apparatus.
  • The above training apparatus designed to apply a load in an electrically adjustable manner can be used as both a so-called leg extension apparatus intended to impose a load on legs (shins) of a user downwardly when the user moves the shins upwardly (i.e., stretches the legs), and a so-called leg curl apparatus intended to impose a load on legs (shins) of a user upwardly when a user moves the shins downwardly (bends the legs). Thus, these different types of trainings can be readily performed using the single training apparatus.
  • In the training apparatus of the present invention, the training mechanism with the mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user includes a training apparatus which has not only a function of exercising legs of a user actively by the user's own power, but also a function of exercising legs of a user passively according to a driving action of given drive means without exercising the user's legs by the user's own power.
  • These and other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become apparent upon reading the following detailed description along with the accompanied drawings.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • FIG. 1 is a partially cut-out exploded perspective view showing a training apparatus according to one embodiment of the present invention.
  • FIG. 2 is an assembly perspective view showing the training apparatus in FIG. 1, viewed from the right side thereof, wherein outer panels are removed.
  • FIG. 3 is an assembly perspective view showing the training apparatus in FIG. 1, viewed from the left side thereof, wherein the outer panels are removed.
  • FIG. 4 is an assembly perspective view showing the training apparatus in FIG. 1, wherein the outer panels are attached, and a pair of roller pads are set at a home position.
  • FIG. 5 is an assembly perspective view showing the training apparatus in FIG. 1, wherein the outer panels are attached, and the pair of roller pads are set at an initial position.
  • FIGS. 6A and 6B are explanatory partially cut-out perspective views showing a lock mechanism for a front roller pad, wherein FIG. 6A is an exploded perspective view, and FIG. 6B is an assembly perspective view.
  • FIGS. 7A to 7C are side views showing a positional relationship between a seat and the roller pads after completion of training, wherein FIGS. 7A, 7B and 7C show a state just after completion of training, an intermediate state of the training and a state after a seat bottom is returned to a horizontal position, respectively.
  • DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS OF THE INVENTION
  • FIG. 1 is a partially cut-out exploded perspective view showing a training apparatus 10 according to one embodiment of the present invention. In FIG. 1, each component facilitate is illustrated in a simplified manner by omitting the detail thereof to facilitate understanding of the invention. FIGS. 2 and 3 are assembly perspective views showing the training apparatus 10 in FIG. 1, wherein outer panels are removed, and FIG. 2 and FIG. 3 are a right side view and a left side view, respectively.
  • FIGS. 4 and 5 are assembly perspective views showing the training apparatus 10 in FIG. 1, wherein the outer panels are attached. FIG. 4 shows a pair of roller pads set at a home position, and a front roller pad which is raised, i.e. in a standing posture. FIG. 5 shows a pair of roller pads are set at an initial position, and the front roller pad is set in a first posture.
  • As to the X and Y directions in FIGS. 1 to 5, the X-X direction will be referred to as “rightward/leftward direction or lateral direction”, and the Y-Y direction will be referred to as “frontward/rearward direction”. Particularly, the −X direction, +X direction, −Y direction and +Y direction will be referred to as “leftward”, “rightward”, “frontward” and “rearward”, respectively.
  • As shown in FIG. 1, the training apparatus 10 has a base (apparatus body) 20 as a support member, and the base 20 mounting thereon a seat unit 30 adapted to allow a user to sit thereon, a roller pad unit (training mechanism) 40 adapted to train muscles of legs of the user who sits on the seat unit 30, a load-applying unit 50 adapted to generate a load and apply the load to the roller pad unit 40, an input/output unit 60 adapted to allowing information about training to be input and output therefrom, and a control unit 70 adapted to control an operation of the training unit 10 based on the input information from the input/output unit 60 and a detection signals from a sensor installed in each portion.
  • The seat unit 30, the roller pad unit 40, the load-applying unit 50, the input/output unit 60 and the control unit 70 are mounted on the base 20 to form a core structure as shown in FIGS. 2 and 3, and then an outer panel formed of a seat metal conforming an outer shape of the core structure is attached to the core structure to prepare the training apparatus 10 as shown in FIGS. 4 and 5.
  • The base 20 comprises a first base 21 having a rectangular shape in top plan view, and a second base 22 disposed on either one of right and left sides (in this embodiment, left side) of the first base 21 and formed in a rectangular shape in top plan view. A rear half of the second base 22 is superimposed on a left region of a top surface of the first base 21, and fixed thereto. As shown in FIG. 2, the base 20 is formed in an L shape in top plan view.
  • The first base 21 has a flat plate shape, and has a pair of right and left seat mounting frames 211 fixed onto an approximately right half of the top surface thereof and formed in a reverse U shape.
  • The second base 22 includes a flat-plate base 221 formed in rectangular shape in top plan view to which has a rear edge to be in contact with a left region of a front edge of the first base 21, a vertically-long frame 222 which has a longitudinally-long rectangular parallelepiped-shaped and extends upwardly from a front edge of the flat base 221, and a horizontal-long frame 223 having a longitudinally-long rectangular parallelepiped-shaped which has a height dimension approximately one-half of the vertically-long frame 222 and extends rearwardly from a rear surface of the vertically-long frame 222.
  • The vertically-long frame 222 comprises a plate member fixed a front end of the top surface of the flat-plate base 221 to extend upwardly, and two support columns formed of a so-called angle bar having a sectionally L shape and to extend from each of right and left rear corners the flat-plate base 221, and a top plate extending to bridge between respective top ends of the plate member and the two support columns. The horizontally-long frame 223 is fixed onto the left region of the top surface of the first base 21 to form the base 20.
  • The seat unit 30 comprises a seat support 31, a seat 32, and an electric linear actuator (tilt adjustment unit) 33 adapted to appropriately change an angle of the seat 32 with respect to a horizontal plane, through the seat support 31.
  • The seat support 31 includes a support body 311 having a reverse U shape in front view and extending in a frontward/rearward direction, a backrest support column 312 extending upward from a slightly rearward position relative to a longitudinally-central region of a top surface of the support body 311, and a tube member 313 adapted to adjust a frontward/rearward position of the seat 32 which is mounted on a top of the backrest support column 312 in a frontwardly/rearwardly movable manner. A positioning handle 314 is screwed into an upper portion of the backrest support column 312. The backrest support column 312 has an upper end provided with a tube portion 312 a which allows the tube member 313 to penetrate therethrough in the frontward/rearward direction in a sliding manner. The tube member 313 is fit into the rectangular tubular-shaped tube portion 312 a in a frontwardly/rearwardly slidable manner.
  • The tube member 313 is formed with a plurality of catch holes 315 arranged in the frontward/rearward direction at positions each corresponding to the positioning handle 314. After positioning the tube member 313, the positioning handle 314 is rotated to fit a tip of the positioning handle 314 into one of the catch holes 315 so as to fix the tube member 313 to the backrest support column 312. The positioning handle 312 may be simply designed to be inserted into each of the catch hole 315.
  • A support shaft 316 is fixed to a bottom surface of the support body 311 in such a manner as that one end of support shaft 316 laterally extends across the support body 311. Further, two bearings 212 are mounted on a top surface of the pair of seat mounting frames 211, in laterally opposed relation to each other. The other end of the support shaft 316 is supported by the respective bearing 212 to allow the seat support 31 to be rotated about the support shaft 316 and angularly adjusted.
  • A first detection-target plate 34 is fixed to the right end of the support shaft 316, and an angle sensor 23 is fixed to the right seat mounting frame 211 at a position corresponding to the first detection-target plate 34. The angle sensor 23 is adapted to detect an angle of the support body 311 with respect to the horizontal plane, based on a level of alignment (overlapping) between the first detection-target plate 34 and the angle sensor 23.
  • A left handrail 35 having a reverse U shape is fixed to a front region of a right edge of the support body 311. An inclined support column 361 having an upper portion inclined frontwardly is fixed to a front region of a right edge of the first base 21, and a right handrail 36 is fixed to the upper portion of the inclined support column 361. The right handrail 36 has a front portion formed in an arc shape. A user can grip the arc-shaped portion of the right handrail 36 and readily sit on the seat 32.
  • The seat 32 includes a seat bottom 321 for allowing a user to sit thereon, and a seatback 322 for allowing the user after sitting on the seat bottom 321 to lean the back thereagainst. The seat bottom 321 is fixed to the support body 311 at a position on a frontward side relative to the backrest support column 312, by screws.
  • The seatback 322 has a rectangular tubular-shaped protrusion 323 protruding rearward from a central region of a rear surface thereof. The protrusion 323 is dimensionally designed to be fitted into the tube member 313 of the seat support 31. The protrusion 323 is fitted into the tube member 313 from a frontward side of he tube member 313, and fixed thereto to allow the seatback 322 to the seat support 31.
  • Thus, a user can move the tube member 313 in the frontward/rearward direction in conformity to his/her body size to positionally change the seatback 322 in the frontward/rearward direction. In this embodiment, while the position of the seatback 322 can be changed in the frontward/rearward direction, the seat bottom 321 is fixed in the frontward/rearward direction. Alternatively, the seat bottom 321 and the seatback 322 may be integrated together to allow the seat bottom 321 to be moved frontwardly and rearwardly in conjunction with the seatback 322.
  • The electric linear actuator 33 is provided as a means to adjust an angle of the seat bottom 321 fixed to the support body 311 of the seat support 31, with respect to the horizontal direction, and installed between the pair of seat mounting frames 211. The electric linear actuator 33 comprises a cylinder 331 mounted on the first base 21, and a piston rod 332 slidably inserted into the cylinder 331 in such a manner that an upper portion of the piston rod 332 protrudes outside.
  • The cylinder 331 is provided with a servomotor (not shown), and a spiral rod (not shown) housed in the cylinder 331 to extend in an axial direction of the cylinder 331 and adapted to be rotated about its axis according to a rotational driving action of the servo motor. The piston rod 332 is threadingly engaged with the spiral rod within the cylinder 331. Thus, when the spiral is axially rotated according to the driving action of the servomotor, the piston rod 332 will be moved forwardly and backwardly relative to the cylinder 331.
  • A bracket 317 is fixed to the bottom surface of the support body 311 at position corresponding to a distal end of the piston rod 332, and the distal end of the piston rod 332 is coupled to the bracket 317 through a pin in a relatively rotatable manner. Thus, in response to the forward and backward movements of the piston rod 332 relatively to the cylinder 331, the support body 311 is swingably moved about the support shaft 316, so as to change the angle of the seat bottom 321 with respect to the horizontal plane.
  • In this embodiment, the seat bottom 321 is arranged such that, in a state after the seat bottom 321 is set in a tilted posture for allowing a user to perform training, a front edge of the seat bottom 321 is located in opposed relation to an after-mentioned pivot shaft 413 which is a swing center of after-mentioned roller pads 43. The reason is to align the swing center of the roller pads 43 with a position of joints of the user during bending and stretching exercises about the legs after sitting on the seat 32. This allows the user to smoothly perform the bending and stretching exercises about the legs.
  • As shown in FIG. 5, the roller pad unit 40 is provided as a means to train muscles of legs of a user after sitting on the seat 32, through bending and stretching exercises about the legs to be performed while interposing ends of the legs thereinto. The roller pad unit 40 comprises an arm 41 adapted to be swingingly moved about a support point located at an appropriate position (after-mentioned pivot shaft 413) in an upper end thereof, a roller-pad support plate 42 fixed to a right surface of the arm 41 to extend in the frontward/rearward direction, and a pair of roller pads 43 supported by the roller-pad support plate 42 in such a manner as to protrude rightwardly from respective opposite ends of a right surface of the roller-pad support plate 42 in parallel relation to each other.
  • The arm 41 includes a rectangular columnar-shaped arm body 411, a rectangular tubular-shaped arm member (intermediate member) 412 fitted on the arm body 411 in a slidable manner. A pivot shaft 413 is fixed to an upper end of the arm body 411 in such a manner as to be disposed to protrude leftwardly therefrom and rotated about its axis together with the arm body 411. This pivot axis 413 is concentrically connected to an after-mentioned load transfer shaft 571 in such a manner as to be rotated about it axis together with the load transfer shaft 571.
  • An adjustment knob 414 is attached to a rear surface of an upper portion of the arm member 412 to protrude rearwardly from the rear surface. This adjustment knob 414 is designed such that a distal end thereof is inserted into the arm member 412 by a biasing force of bias means (not shown) and fitted into either one of a plurality of catch holes which are formed in a rear surface of the arm body 411 and aligned in a vertical direction, i.e., a longitudinal direction of the arm body 411, so that the arm member 412 is positioned relative to the arm body 411. In an operation of changing the position of the arm member 412 relative to the arm body 411, the adjustment knob 412 may be operated after pulling the arm body 411 outwardly against the biasing force of the bias means to release the lock between the distal end of the adjustment knob 412 and one of the catch holes. In this manner, the position of the arm member 412 relative to the arm body 411 can be changed.
  • The roller-pad support plate 42 is provided as a means to support the pair of roller pads 43 (a front roller pad 43 a and a rear roller pad 43 b), and a central portion of the roller-pad support plate 42 is fixed to the arm member 412 in such a manner that a rear end of the roller-pad support plate 42 becomes slightly higher than that of a front end of the roller-pad support plate 42 when the arm 41 extends downwardly from the after-mentioned load transfer shaft 571.
  • The roller-pad support plate 42 has a pair of roller-pad support shafts 44 (a front support shaft 44 a and a rear support shaft 44 b), and the roller pads 43 are supported by the respective roller-pad support shafts 44 in an axially rotatable manner.
  • Each of the roller pads 43 comprises a cylindrical member 431 made of a rigid material, such as metal or hard synthetic resin, and rotatably fitted on the roller-pad support shaft 44, and a roller pad body 432 made of a soft material, such as soft synthetic resin or expandable synthetic resin, and concentrically fitted on the cylindrical member 431 in an integrally rotatable manner. In an assembling process, after the roller pad 43 is fitted on the roller-pad support shaft 44, a retaining member 433 is attached to a distal end of the roller-pad support shaft 44 to prevent the roller pad 43 from coming away from the roller-pad support shaft 44.
  • In this embodiment, among the pair of roller pads 43, the front roller pad 43 a is designed to be changed in posture between a horizontal posture (first posture) S1 in which the front roller pad 43 a extends rightwardly and horizontally from the roller-pad support plate 42, as shown in FIG. 5, and a standing posture (second posture) S2 in which an anchor end of the front support shaft 44 a is folded to allow the front roller pad 43 a to stand upwardly, and, after being set in either one of the horizontal and standing postures, locked in the set posture by a lock mechanism 45.
  • FIGS. 6A and 6B are explanatory partially cut-out perspective views showing the lock mechanism 45 for the front roller pad 43 a, wherein FIG. 6A is an exploded perspective view, and FIG. 6B is an assembly perspective view. As to the X and Y directions in FIGS. 6A and 6B, the X-X direction will be referred to as “rightward/leftward direction or lateral direction (−X: leftward, +X: rightward)”, and the Y-Y direction will be referred to as “frontward/rearward direction (−Y: frontward, +Y: rearward)”, as with FIG. 1.
  • As shown in FIGS. 6A and 6B, the front support shaft 44 a supporting the front roller pad 43 a comprises a columnar-shaped columnar bracket 441 which protrudes from the roller-pad support plate 42 and has a two-forked distal end, and a support shaft body 442 coupled to the columnar bracket 441.
  • The columnar bracket 441 has a vertically-penetrating slit 443 formed by cutting the distal end thereof from a distal end surface in a leftward direction thereof, and the support shaft body 442 has a left end provided with a leftwardly-protruding tongue 444 fittable in the slit 443.
  • The tongue 444 is formed with a coupling through-hole 444 a at an appropriate position located on an axis of the support shaft body 442, and the columnar bracket 441 is formed with a coupling through-hole 441 a across the slit 443 at a position corresponding to the coupling through-hole 444 a.
  • In the assembling process, after the tongue 444 is fitted in the slit 443, a coupling pin 445 is inserted into the coupling through-holes 441 a, 444 a to couple the support shaft body 442 to the columnar bracket 441 in a swingable manner about the coupling pin 445. As shown FIG. 6A, the front roller pad 43 a can be manually operated in a swinging manner about the coupling pin 445 to change a posture of the support shaft body 442 (i.e., the front roller pad 43 a) between the horizontal posture S1 in which the support shaft body 442 extends rightwardly from the coupling pin 445, and the standing posture S2 in which the support shaft body 442 stands upwardly from the coupling pin 445.
  • As shown in FIG. 6A, the tongue 444 has a sector-shaped portion 444 b with a lower edge protruding downward when the front roller pad 43 a is set in the horizontal posture S1. This sector-shaped portion 444 b is formed in an arc shape having a curvature center set at a hole center of the coupling through-hole 444 a. The sector-shaped portion 444 b is formed with a first catch hole 444 c in a right side (in FIG. 6A) region hereof, and a second catch hole 444 d in a left right side (in FIG. 6A) thereof.
  • An angle α between a linear line connecting the hole center of the coupling through-hole 444 a and the first catch hole 444 c, and a linear line connecting the hole center of the coupling through-hole 444 a and the second catch hole 444 d is set at about 90 degrees.
  • A bracket 442 is fixed to a right surface of the roller-pad support plate 42 at a position on a slightly frontward side relative to and below the columnar bracket 441 to protrude rightwardly by a given distance. A guide tube member 423 is fixed to a right end of the bracket 442, and an after-mentioned lock pin 454 is inserted into the guide tube member 423 in a frontwardly/rearwardly movable manner. This guide tube member 423 is arranged to be located on the side of a rear surface of the tongue 444 in opposed relation to the first and second catch holes 444 c, 444 d.
  • In this embodiment, a posture shifting mechanism (as set forth in the appended claims) for allowing the front roller pad 43 a to be shifted between the horizontal posture S1 and the standing posture S2 comprises the slit 443 formed in the columnar bracket 441, the tongue 444 of the support shaft body 442 fitted in the slit 443, and the coupling pin 445 inserted into the tongue 444 fitted in the slit 443, and the columnar bracket 441.
  • The lock mechanism 45 comprises a protruding shaft 451 mounted in a center hole 421 formed in a central portion of the roller-pad support plate 42, to protrude rightwardly from the center hole 421, a manual operation lever 452 fitted on the protruding shaft 451 in a swingable manner about the protruding shaft 451, a rectangular-shaped lock plate 453 fixed to a front end of a protruding rod 453 a protruding frontwardly from an outer peripheral surface of a cylindrical anchor end 452 a of the manual operation lever 452, to extends downwardly, and formed with an lock hole 453 b extending vertically, and an lock pin 454 adapted to be fitted into the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) according to a swing movement of the lock plate 453 about the protruding shaft 451.
  • The lock plate 453 is arranged such that, in a state after the manual operation lever 452 is attached to the roller-pad support plate 42, the lock hole 453 b thereof is located in opposed relation to a rear end surface of the guide tube member 423, as shown in FIG. 6A. The lock hole 453 b is formed to have a width dimension slightly greater than a diameter of the lock pin 454 so as to allow the lock pin 454 to penetrate therethrough.
  • The lock pin 454 has a pin body 454 a slidably penetrating through the guide tube member 423, a flange 454 b fixedly fitted on the pin body 454 a at a position on a slightly frontward side relative to a rear end of the pin body 454 a, and a nut 454 c screwed on an external thread formed in a rear end of the pin body 454 a. As shown in FIG. 6B, in the assembling process, a front portion of the lock pin 454 on a frontward side relative to the flange 454 b is inserted through the guide tube member 432, and a rear portion of the lock pin 454 on a rearward side relative to the flange 454 b is inserted through the lock hole 453 b of the lock plate 453. Then, the nut 454 is screwed on the rear end of the pin body 454 a. In this manner, the lock pin 454 is attached to the guide tube member 432 and the lock plate 453 in a latch state.
  • The lock pin 454 has a length set in such a manner as to be moved to protrude from a front end of the guide tube member 423 and penetrate through the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) when the manual operation lever 454 is tilted rearwardly, as indicated by the sold line in FIG. 6B, and to be moved rearwardly through the lock plate 453 and disengaged from the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) when the manual operation lever 454 is manually moved frontwardly, as indicated by the two-dot chain line in FIG. 6B.
  • In a state after the lock pin 454 is fitted in the first catch hole 444 c, as shown in FIG. 6B, the front roller pad 43 a is locked in the horizontal posture S1. Further, in a state after the lock pin 454 is fitted in the second catch hole 444 d, the front roller pad 43 a is locked in the standing posture S2. In either case, when the manual operation lever 454 is moved to a rearwardly-tilted position, the front roller pad 43 a is set in a locked state.
  • In an operation of changing the posture in the locked state, the manual operation lever 452 may be manually moved frontwardly, i.e., swingingly moved counterclockwise about the protruding shaft 451. Specifically, through this operation, the lock plate 453 is swingingly moved counterclockwise about the protruding shaft 451 to rearwardly pull the nut 454 c at the rear end of the pin body 454 a having the rear portion penetrating through the lock hole 453 b of the pin plate 453, and thereby the lock pin 454 is moved rearwardly.
  • Due to the rearward movement of the lock pin 454, the front end of the pin body 454 a is disengaged from the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) (in the state indicated by the solid line in FIG. 6A, first catch hole 444 c) to release the locked state of the front roller pad 43 a. In this unlocked state, the front roller pad 43 a is manually moved in a swinging manner about the coupling pin 445 to change the posture of the front roller pad 43 a.
  • After changing the posture, the manual operation lever 454 in a frontward position may be manually moved toward the original position. Thus, the lock plate 454 is swingably moved clockwise about the protruding shaft 451 to frontwardly push the flange 421 of the pin body 454 a penetrating the lock hole 453 b of the lock plate 454, so that the front end of the pin body 454 a is fitted into the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) to lock the posture (horizontal posture S1 or standing posture S2) of the front roller pad 43 a.
  • Although not illustrated in FIGS. 6A and 6B, a bias member may be provided at an appropriate position of the roller-pad support plate 42 to bias the manual operation lever 452 clockwise about the protruding shaft 451. In this case, a user swingingly moves the manual operation lever 452 counterclockwise to release the locked state of the front roller pad 43 a. Then, when the user slightly moves the front roller pad 43 a in a swinging manner about the coupling pin 445, and releases the hand from the manual operation lever 452, the front end of the lock pin 454 is slidingly moved relative to the rear surface of the sector-shaped portion 444 b by a biasing force of the bias member, according to the swing operation of the front roller pad 43 a.
  • Then, when the user swingingly moves the front roller pad 43 a about 90 degree to allow the front end of the lock pin 454 to reach at a position opposed to the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d), the lock pin 454 is automatically fitted into the first or second catch hole (444 c, 444 d) by the biasing force of the bias member. Thus, without operating the manual operation lever 452, the front roller pad 43 a can be locked in the changed posture.
  • In the above lock mechanism 45, when a user gets on the seat 32 or gets off the seat 32, the manual operation lever 452 is operated to release the lock state of the front roller pad 43 a in the horizontal posture S1, and the front roller pad 43 a is set in the standing posture S2 as shown in FIG. 4 to create an obstacle-free space in front of the seat 32. Thus, the user can readily get on/off the seat.
  • The manual operation lever 452 is arranged at a position where a user can operate the manual operation lever 452 by one of his/her hands while sitting on the seat 32. Thus, without assistance from another person after completion of training, the user can operate the manual operation lever 452 to release the lock state of the front roller pad 43 a by himself/herself. Then, after changing the front roller pad 43 a from the horizontal posture S1 to the standing posture S2, the user can readily get off the seat.
  • Further, after setting the front roller pad 43 a in the standing posture S2 and getting on the seat 32, a user can change the front roller pad 43 a from the standing posture S2 to the horizontal posture S1 by himself/herself. Through this operation, the ends of the legs of the user are held between the front roller pad 43 a and the rear roller pad 43 b, as shown in FIG. 5. This operation is convenient as compared with the burdensome operation of inserting the ends of the legs into between the pair of roller pads 43 after sitting on the seat 32.
  • A roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 (equivalent to the detection unit in the appended claims) is attached to the right surface of the roller-pad support plate 42 at a position above the columnar bracket 441. A function of the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 will be described below. The control unit 70 is operable to inhibit the tilt movement of the seat 32 in response to a detection signal from the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46. Specifically, when the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 detects that the roller pads 43 hold legs of a user therebetween, the control unit 70 operates to inhibit the tilt movement of the seat 32. The reason for this control is that, if the seat 32 is tiltingly moved when the roller pads 43 hold the user's legs therebetween, only the seat 32 will be moved under the condition that a constant contact position between the user's legs and the roller pads 43 is substantially fixed, and thereby excessive load is likely to impose on the user's legs. For example, if only a front end of the seat 32 (more specifically, the front end of the seat bottom 321 of the seat 32; the following description will be made using the term “front end of the seat”) is tiltingly moved upwardly when the seat is still set in a horizontal position before start of training and the user's legs are held between the roller pads, an undesirable force will act on the user's legs in such a manner as to stretch the legs while fixing a part of the legs. Further, if only the front end of the seat 32 is moved downwardly when the user's legs are still held between the roller pads 43 just after completion of training, an undesirable force will also act in the reverse direction on the user's legs in such a manner as to compress the legs while holding the legs between the roller pads 43. In this respect, the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 pre-detects a possibility that the roller pads 43 hold the user's legs therebetween to control the tilt movement of the seat so as to avoid occurrence of the above undesirable situations. In this embodiment, the seat 32 is not tilted when there is a possibility that the front roller pad 43 a is in the horizontal posture S1, i.e., the user's legs are held between the pair of roller pads 43, but the tilt movement of the seat 32 is allowed only when the front roller pad 43 a is in the standing posture S2, i.e., the roller pads 43 are in an opened state), and an angle adjustment switch in an input device 63 is operated.
  • In the above embodiment, the electric linear actuator 33 is designed to inhibit the tilt movement of the seat 32 when it is detected that the roller pads 43 hold legs of a user therebetween. Alternatively, as another embodiment, the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 may be designed to detect that the roller pads 43 do not hold legs of a user therebetween (i.e., at least one of the roller pads is moved to moved to create an open space therebetween, and the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 may be designed to permit the tilt movement of the seat 32 in response to a detection signal from such a roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46.
  • The roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 may be a limit switch designed to be mechanically pressed by the support shaft body 442 of the front support shaft 44 a when the front roller pad 43 a is set in the standing posture S2, or may be a so-called optical sensor using a photo coupler (optically-coupled device) designed such that a light path therein is blocked by the support shaft body 442 of the front support shaft 44 a when the front roller pad 43 a is set in the standing posture S2. The installation position of the sensor is not limited to the position in the above embodiment, but any other suitable position allowing for determining whether the roller pads 43 are in a closed state capable of holding legs of a user or at positions away from each other or in an opened state.
  • Returning to FIG. 1, the load-applying unit 50 is provided as a means to apply a load to a swing movement of the roller pads 43 in conjunction with bending and stretching exercises about legs of a user, and mounted on the second base 22.
  • The load-applying unit 50 comprises a servomotor (electrical load generation means) 51 disposed below the horizontally-long frame 223 (actually, installed on the left region of the first base 21 in a state after the second base 22 is combined with the first base 21), a 1st sprocket 52 concentrically supported and integrally rotated by a drive shaft of the servomotor 51, a two-forked lower bracket 53 fixed on a region of the plat-plate base 221 adjacent to the vertically-long frame 222, a 2nd sprocket 54 concentrically supported in an integrally rotatable manner by a bridge shaft 531 installed between fork portions of the lower bracket 53, a 1st chain 55 wound around the 2nd sprocket 54 and the 1st sprocket 52 in a tensioned manner, a 3rd sprocket 56 concentrically supported in an integrally rotatable manner by the bridge shaft 531, a two-forked upper bracket 57 mounted on a top portion of vertically-long frame 222, a 4th sprocket concentrically supported in an integrally rotatable manner by a load transfer shaft 571 which is installed between fork portions of the upper bracket 57 to extend laterally, and a 2nd chain 59 wounded around the 4th sprocket 58 and the 3rd sprocket 56 in a tensioned manner.
  • Each of the 1st and 2nd chains 55, 59 is maintained in a tensioned manner by a tension sprocket (not shown).
  • The load transfer shaft 571 has a mounting hole 572 concentrically perforated in a right edge surface. In the assembling process, the pivot shaft 413 protruding from the arm body 411 of the roller pad unit 40 is fitted into the mounting hole 572, and then a pin (not shown) is inserted into the load transfer shaft 571 and the pivot shaft 413. In this manner, a swing movement of the roller pads 43 can be transferred to the load transfer shaft 571 through the pivot shaft 413.
  • The control unit 70 is operable, when a user who sits on the seat 32 stretches the legs to swingingly move the roller pads 43 clockwise about the pivot shaft 413, to control the servomotor 51 so as to apply a given load acting in a direction opposite to a direction of the swing movement. Then, the control unit 70 is operable, when the user returns the stretched legs to the original bent position to swingingly move the roller pads 43 counterclockwise about the pivot shaft 413, to controllably cut off a power supply to the servomotor 51 so as to allow the roller pads 43 to be swingingly moved counterclockwise in a so-called no-load state.
  • As shown in FIG. 3, in order to allow the control unit 70 to control the servomotor 51 in the above manner, a second detection-target plate 573 is fixed to a left edge surface of the load transfer shaft 571 and integrally rotated by the load transfer shaft 571, and a direction sensor 24 disposed in opposed relation to the second detection-target plate 573 at an appropriate position of the vertically-long frame 222 to detect a swing direction of the second detection-target plate 573 (i.e., a direction of the swing movement of the roller pads 43 about the pivot shaft 43).
  • The input/output unit 60 is provided as a means to input various types of information about training, and output status of the training. In this embodiment, the input/output unit 60 is composed of an externally box-shaped input unit 63 which is mounted on a rotary table (not shown) disposed at a top of a support leg 61 attached within the upper bracket 56 from above, and adapted to be turned about a vertical axis.
  • The support leg 61 is formed in two-forked shape, and two-forked portions are fixed onto the top plate of the vertically-long frame 222 while bestriding the load transfer plate 571.
  • The input unit 63 includes a display 631 provided on a surface of a box-shaped casing facing the seat 32 and composed of an LCD (liquid crystal display), and a plurality of input keys provided on the same surface as that of the display to allow a user to input personal information, a type of intended training. The entered personal information is indicated on the display 631 for confirmation.
  • After start of training, an actual training time, an actual number of bending/stretching of legs and other will be indicated on the display 631 to allow the user to recognize the status of current training point by point.
  • The rotary table 62 can be turned about the vertical axis to allow the display 631 of the input unit 63 mounted on the rotary table 62, to be oriented in a direction providing adequate visibility to the user.
  • In this embodiment, the input unit 63 is provided with an angle adjustment switch 632 (input device) 632 adapted to adjust an angle of the seat bottom 321. The user can manually move this angle adjustment switch 632 in a first direction from its neutral position. Only during a period where this manual operation is actually performed, the piston rod 332 of the electric linear actuator 33 is moved forward to gradually increase the angle of the seat bottom 321 with respect to the horizontal plane, up to a predetermined angle. The user can also manually move the angle adjustment switch 632 in a second direction to gradually reduce the angle of the seat bottom 321 to its original angle. The angle adjustment switch 632 is designed to be automatically returned to the initial neutral position when the user releases the angle adjustment switch 632 from his/her hand after the angle of the seat bottom 321 has reached the predetermined angle or has returned to the original angle.
  • As above, the angle of the seat 32 is changed only during a duration of the input operation to the angle adjustment switch 632. Thus, a user after sitting on the seat 32 can freely adjust the angle, while feeling the angle which is being changing stepwise and a state of the legs, by the moment, and interrupting the input operation to appropriately rest the legs. For example, in a training apparatus designed such that a tilt angle of a seat is automatically changed to a predetermined value after an input device is manually operated only once, excessive load is likely to be undesirably imposed on the user's legs. This embodiment can prevent occurrence of such an undesirable situation.
  • In this embodiment, an upper limit of the tilt angle of the seat 32 is set at a constant value without relation to users.
  • The control unit 70 is provided as a means to control an initial position of the roller pads 43 for an intended type of training, a load based on the servomotor 51 and the inclination angle of the seat bottom 321 based on the electric linear actuator 33. According to a given program stored in a storage section, the control unit 70 is operable, based on the aforementioned input information about the user input from the input unit 63, and with reference to detection signals from the angle sensor 23 and the direction sensor 24, to send control signals to the electric linear actuator 33 and the servomotor 51 so as to set a tilt angle of the seat bottom 321, a initial angle of the arm 41 and a level of load (breaking force) to be applied to the roller pads 43.
  • For this purpose, the control unit 70 has a storage device which stores input information about a user, such as gender, age and body height, and a table of an initial position (initial height position of the roller pads 43 and a load value to be applied to the roller pads 43, with respect to each angle of the seat bottom 321 which will be set by a user. The control unit 70 is operable, based on input information from the input unit 63 by a specific user, and with reference to the table, to set an initial position and a load value of the roller pads 43 for the specific user.
  • A process for use of the above training apparatus according to this embodiment will be described below. As shown in FIG. 14, in an initial state, the training apparatus is typically arranged such that the seat 32 is set in the horizontal position, and the front roller pad 43 a in the pair of roller pads 43 is set in the standing posture S2. A user can sit on the seat 32 under these conditions. In a case where the front roller pad 43 a is set in the horizontal posture S1, the user may operate the manual operation lever 452 to release the locked (latched) state of the roller pad 43 a, and lift the roller pad 43 a to the standing posture S2 by hands. As seen in FIG. 4, in this state, the seat 32 is not set in a tilted position for training, and the roller pad 43 a is located at a non-obstructive position for sitting. Thus, the user can readily sit on the seat 32 as if sitting on a usual chair.
  • Then, the user after sitting on the seat operates the angle adjustment switch 632 of the input unit 63. During this operation, the front roller pad 43 a is still set in the standing posture S2. The reason is that, if the seat 32 is tilted when the legs are held between the roller pads, excessive load is likely to be imposed on the legs, as mentioned above. The posture of the front roller pad 43 a is detected by the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46, and the tilt movement of the seat 32 will be inhibited if the front roller pad 43 a is in the horizontal posture S1 (if there is a possibility that the user's legs are held between the roller pads).
  • Then, after the seat 32 is tilted at a predetermined angle (upper limit angle), the user operates the manual operation lever 452 to release the locked state of the front roller pad 43 a, and moves the front roller pad 43 a downward by the left hand. Through this operation, the user's legs are held between the pair of roller pads 43. In this embodiment, the operation of holding the user's legs is performed based on the operation of opening/closing only one of the roller pads. This makes it possible to avoid an unnatural or forced physical posture, for example, due to a movement for inserting the legs into between a pair of stationary roller pads. The above state is shown in FIG. 2.
  • The user starts training in this state. After completion of the training, the user will perform the above steps in reverse order. Specifically, the user operates the manual operation lever 452 to release the locked state of the front roller pad 43 a set in the horizontal posture S1, and moves the front roller pad 43 a to the standing posture S2. Actually, the user lifts the front roller pad 43 a upwardly by the hand. After the front roller pad 43 a is set in the standing posture S2, the close contact relationship between the legs and the pair of roller pads is released, and the seat 32 is allowed to be tiltingly moved. Then, the user operates the angle adjustment switch of the input unit 63 to move the front end of the seat 32 downwardly toward the horizontal position. After the seat 32 is returned to the original horizontal position, the user gets off the seat 32, and the training is terminated.
  • FIGS. 7A to 7C show a positional relationship between the seat 32 and the roller pads 43 after completion of training, specifically, show that an operation in this embodiment is performed without interference between the front end of the seat 32 and the roller pads 43. FIGS. 7A, 7B and 7C are side views showing a state just after completion of training, an intermediate state of the training and a state after the seat bottom 321 is returned to the horizontal position, respectively. As to the Y directions in FIGS. 7A to 7C, the Y-Y direction will be referred to as “frontward/rearward direction (−Y: frontward, +Y: rearward)”, as with FIG. 1.
  • As shown in FIG. 7A, at a time just after completion of training, the front end of the seat is upwardly-tilted. Further, the arm 41 supporting the roller pads 43 extends vertically downwardly from the pivot shaft 413, as illustrated in FIG. 7A. Thus, after completion of the training, a user will return the seat 32 to the horizontal position so as to get off the seat 32. However, if the seat 32 is moved downwardly under the condition that the arm 41 extends vertically downwardly as illustrated in FIG. 7A, the front end of the seat 32 is likely to interfere with the roller pads 43 depending on the positions of the roller pads 43. Specifically, as mentioned above, the rectangular tubular-shaped arm member 412 is designed to be positionally changed relative to the arm body 411. Thus, if the user moves the arm member 412 along the arm body 411 to set the arm member 412, i.e., the roller pads 43, at a relatively high position in conformity to his/her body size, the interference is likely to occur. In this embodiment, as shown in FIG. 7B, before the operation of returning the seat 32 to the horizontal position, the arm 41 is swingingly moved frontwardly by a given angle. This swing angle is pre-set at a value which allows the roller pads 43 to avoid the interference with the downwardly-moving seat 32 even if the arm member 412 is set at the highest position relative to the arm body 411. Further, as shown in FIG. 7B, before the operation of moving the seat 32 downwardly, the user lifts the front one 43 a of the roller pads 43 to make the legs free. Thus, the roller-pad-position detecting sensor 46 detects that the roller pads do not hold the user's legs therebetween, i.e., the roller pads are in the opened state, to release the inhibition of the downward movement of the seat 32. Then, the user operates to move the seat 32 downwardly to the horizontal position, as shown in FIG. 7C. Then, the user gets off the seat 32, and the training is terminated.
  • Then, after confirming that the arm 41 is changed to an inclined position, the user operates the angle adjustment switch 632 (see FIG. 1) to return the seat bottom 321 to the horizontal position, as shown in FIG. 7C. After the seat bottom 321 has returned to the horizontal position, the user gets off the seat 32.
  • As mentioned above in detail, the leg training apparatus 10 according to this embodiment is equipped with the mechanism for tilting the front end of the seat 32 upwardly and downwardly. Thus, the seat can be set in the horizontal position before a user gets in the training apparatus, to allow the user to readily sit on the seat as if sitting on a usual chair, without the need for sitting on a seat while moving the user's hip upwardly as in the sitting movement required for the conventional apparatuses. This is significantly helpful for users, particularly for elderly persons or persons who require assistance.
  • In addition, among the pair of roller pads for holding the user's legs therebetween, the front roller pad can be lifted from the horizontal posture S1 to the standing posture S2. Thus, a desired leg hold state can be achieved simply by placing the legs on the rear roller pad, and then moving the front roller pad downwardly to cover the legs from above. For example, in a training apparatus having a pair of stationary roller pads, a user is obliged to insert the legs into a lateral opening of a gap between the roller pads and move the legs laterally in a sliding manner up to a desired position. This is extremely inconvenient. The above training apparatus can solve such a problem. That is, this training apparatus is intended to provide enhanced usability, particularly, for elderly persons and persons who require assistance, and the features thereof have a significantly valuable advantage of allowing a user to be free from an unnatural or forced physical posture or movement during the use of the apparatus.
  • The present invention is not limited to the above embodiment. For example, the following modifications may be made therein.
  • (1) In the above embodiment, the upper limit of the tilt angle of the seat bottom 321 is set at a constant value without relation to users. Alternatively, the input unit 63 may be designed to accept an input, such as a level of load for training and/or body height, from each user, and the control unit 70 may be designed to determine the upper limit of the tilt angle at a value optimal to each user, based on the input information.
  • (2) In the above embodiment, the front roller pad 43 a is set at a standing posture S2 which corresponds to the second posture as set forth in the appended claims. The second posture of the present invention is not limited to the standing posture 52, but may be any other suitable posture capable of creating a space in front of the seat 32 to allow a user to readily get on/off the seat. For example, the front roller pad may be swingingly moved horizontally in a frontward direction, or may be swingingly moved vertically in a downward direction if feasible in design.
  • (3) In the above embodiment, the training apparatus is designed to apply a load to a movement of legs of a user so as to exercise the user's legs. Instead of such exercise to be performed against a load, the training apparatus may includes a mode in which the user's legs are fully passively moved by the apparatus. That is, some users are not in conditions capable of performing normal training, due to injury or the like. Further, some users have the need for maintaining or recovering a motor function as rehabilitation training, or the need for increasing a movable range of legs which become less flexible due to aging. In these cases, the training apparatus may have a mode in which the apparatus automatically performs a reciprocating motion, and a user simply bending and stretching legs while relying on the reciprocating motion.
  • In sum, a training apparatus which comprises a seat mounted on an apparatus body, a training mechanism disposed in front of the seat and provided with a mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user, a load-applying unit adapted to apply a braking force to a movement of the training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner, and a tilt adjustment unit adapted to tiltingly move a front end of the seat in a vertical direction.
  • The above training apparatus of the present invention is equipped with the tilt adjustment unit adapted to tiltingly move the front end of the seat in a vertical direction, so that, when a user gets on the training apparatus, the seat can be set in a horizontal position to allow the user to readily sit thereon. Thus, the need for sitting on a seat while moving the user's hip upwardly as in the sitting movement required for the conventional apparatuses can be eliminated, and the user can readily sit on the seat as if sits on a usual chair. This is significantly helpful for users, particularly for elderly persons or persons who require assistance. After the user sits on the seat, the front end of the seat can be tiltingly moved upwardly to a position allowing for training.
  • Further, in the above training apparatus, the load-applying unit is adapted to apply a braking force (i.e., load) to a movement of the training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner. This makes it possible to electrically control the load so as to adjust the load readily and quickly.
  • Thus, the conventional problems that a load cannot be adjusted without replacing a weight with another one or adding/removing a weight, and this time-consuming operation causes difficulty in quickly responding to user's request, can be solved to provide significantly enhanced usability and versatility to the training apparatus.
  • The above training apparatus designed to apply a load in an electrically adjustable manner can be used as both a so-called leg extension apparatus intended to impose a load on legs (shins) of a user downwardly when the user moves the shins upwardly (i.e., stretches the legs), and a so-called leg curl apparatus intended to impose a load on legs (shins) of a user upwardly when a user moves the shins downwardly (bends the legs). Thus, these different types of trainings can be readily performed using the single training apparatus.
  • In the training apparatus of the present invention, the training mechanism with the mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user includes a training apparatus which has not only a function of exercising legs of a user actively by the user's own power, but also a function of exercising legs of a user passively according to a driving action of given drive means without exercising the user's legs by the user's own power.
  • In the second aspect of the present invention, the training mechanism may include a pair of roller pads adapted to be disposed in a horizontal posture so as to hold the user's legs therebetween, and a posture shifting mechanism adapted to allow the pair of roller pads to be shifted between a first posture for holding the user's legs therebetween and a second posture for releasing the leg holding state.
  • In this training apparatus, the user after stetting on the seat and facing frontwardly inserts the legs (shins) between the pair of roller pads. Thus, during both stretching and bending, either one of the pair of roller pads will come into contact with the shins to prevent the shins from disengaging from the roller pads. When the roller pads are used as the leg extension apparatus (intended to impose a load on the user's legs (shins) during stretching of the legs), one of the roller pads serves as a load-applying contact portion. Otherwise, when the roller pads is used as the leg curl apparatus intended to impose a load on the user's legs (shins) during bending of the legs), the other roller pad serves as the load-applying contact portion.
  • Thus, irrespective of whether the roller pads are used as the leg extension apparatus or the leg curl apparatus, the user can perform training while sitting on the seat and facing frontwardly, without the need for changing a posture from a sitting posture (sitting on the seat) to a prone posture (lying on the stomach) depending on the types of trainings, as in the conventional apparatuses. This makes it possible to provide significantly enhanced usability to the training apparatus.
  • Further, at least one of the pair of roller pads is associated with the posture shifting mechanism adapted to allow the pair of roller pads to be shifted between the first posture for holding the user's legs therebetween and the second posture for releasing the leg holding state. Specifically, after a first one of the roller pads is set in the second posture, the user places the legs (shins) on the other, second, roller pad at a position suitable for holding the shins between the pair of roller pads, and then returns the first roller pad from the second posture to the first posture. In this manner, the shins can be readily held between the pair of roller pads.
  • In the third aspect of the present invention, said posture shifting mechanism being provided at an end of a front one of said roller pads and said posture shifting mechanism sets said pair of roller pads in parallel relation to each other and in front & rear relation with respect to the user in top view in said first posture and sets said front roller pad of said roller pads in standing posture in said second posture.
  • In this training apparatus, if the pair of roller pads is in the first posture for holding the user's legs (shins), the user can move the front roller pad from the horizontal posture to the standing posture. Then, the user places the shins on the rear roller pad, and can simply move the front roller pad to cover the thins from above so as to achieve a state in which the legs (shins) are held between the pair of roller pads (i.e., leg holding state). For example, in a training apparatus having a pair of stationary roller pads, a user is obliged to insert the shins into a lateral opening of a gap between the roller pads and move the shins laterally in a sliding manner up to a desired position. This is extremely inconvenient. The above training apparatus can solve such a problem. That is, the training apparatus is intended to provide enhanced usability, particularly, for elderly persons and persons who require assistance, and the features thereof have a significantly valuable advantage of allowing a user to be free from an unnatural or forced physical posture or movement during the use of the apparatus.
  • In the fourth aspect of the present invention, the training apparatus may further comprise a lock mechanism adapted to lock the front roller pad in the second posture, and a manual operation unit adapted to release the locked state of the front roller pad by the lock mechanism. The manual operation unit is arranged at a position where the user can manually operate the manual operation unit while sitting on the seat.
  • In this training apparatus, the front roller pad after being set in the second posture is locked by the lock mechanism. More preferably, the front roller pad is locked in both the first and second postures. In this case, during training, the front roller pad can be used for the bending and stretching exercises about the user's legs, while being maintained in the first posture without occurrence of a problem that the front roller pad is moved toward the second posture. Further, when the user gets on/off the seat, the front roller pad set in the second posture can be locked by the lock mechanism to maintain the standing posture thereof. Thus, the need for a burdensome operation of putting the user's hand on the front roller to prevent falling thereof can be eliminated to facilitate user's movements for getting on/off the seat.
  • Furthermore, the manual operation unit is arranged at a position where the user can manually operate the manual operation unit while sitting on the seat. Thus, the user after sitting on the seat can conveniently operate the manual operation unit himself/herself without assistance from another person, so as to lock and unlock the front roller pad in a current one of the first and second posture.
  • In the fifth aspect of the invention, the training apparatus may further comprise an arm supporting the pair of roller pads while being swingably supported by a shaft which extends in a lateral direction of the apparatus body, and an intermediate member interposed between the arm and the pair of roller pads and adapted to be positionally adjusted in a longitudinal direction of the arm.
  • In this training apparatus, when the user after sitting on the seat bends and stretches the legs while interposing the shins between the roller pads, the arm is swingingly moved about the shaft extending the lateral direction of the apparatus body so as to apply a load to the user's shins based on the swing movement to exercise the legs. Further, the intermediate member is interposed between the arm and the pair of roller pads and adapted to be positionally adjusted in the longitudinal direction of the arm. Thus, an effective length of the arm can be set using the intermediate member depending on the gender, body size and others of the user, so that the training based on the bending and stretching exercises about the user's legs using the roller pads can be adequately performed in conformity to the gender, body size and others of the user.
  • In the sixth aspect, the training apparatus may further comprise a detection unit which detects the posture of said pair of roller pads whether it is in said first posture or in said second posture, wherein said tilt adjustment unit is operable, when said detection unit detects the posture of said pair of roller pads being in said first posture, to prohibit said tilt movement of said seat.
  • In this training apparatus, when the detection unit detects the fact that the pair of roller pads are in the first posture, i.e., when the roller pads hold the user's legs (shins) therebetween, the tilt movement of the seat is controllably inhibited. The reason for this control is that, if the seat is tiltingly moved when the roller pads hold the user's shins therebetween, only the seat will be moved under the condition that a contact position between the user's shins and the roller pads is substantially fixed, and thereby excessive load is likely to impose on the user's legs. For example, if only the seat is tiltingly moved upwardly when the seat is still set in a horizontal position before start of training and the user's shins are held between the roller pads, an undesirable force will act on the user's legs in such a manner as to stretch the legs while fixing a part of the legs. Further, if only the seat is moved downwardly when the user's shins are still held between the roller pads just after completion of training, an undesirable force will also act in the reverse direction on the user's legs in such a manner as to compress the user's legs while holding the user's legs between the roller pads. In this respect, according to this training apparatus, the detection unit pre-detects a possibility that the roller pads hold the user's shins therebetween to control the tilt movement of the seat so as to avoid occurrence of the above undesirable situations. This makes it possible to prevent the problem that excessive load is imposed on the user's legs.
  • The detection unit may be detect at least one of a fact that a specific one of the pair of roller pads is in the first posture and a fact that the specific roller pad is in the second posture. In this case, the number of components can be reduced as compared with the training apparatus having two detection units for detecting respective postures of the roller pads.
  • The above description has been made based on one embodiment where the tilt movement of the seat is inhibited in response to detecting that the roller pads hold the user's shins therebetween. It is understood that the training apparatus set forth in the sixth aspect also includes another embodiment where the tilt movement of the seat is allowed only when it is detected that the roller pads do not hold the user's shins therebetween (i.e., at least one of the pair of roller pads is located at an opened position).
  • In the seventh aspect, the pair of roller pads are disposed in front to rear relation with respect to the user in top view, and the detection unit is operable to detect a posture of a front one of the pair of roller pads.
  • In this training apparatus, the detection unit detects whether the front roller pad is set in the first posture (horizontal posture) or in the second posture (standing posture). This means that the front roller pad is designed to be changeable in posture. This training apparatus having the front roller pad designed to be changeable in posture allows the user to readily get on/off the seat, and can facilitate holding the legs between the pair of roller pads, as compared with the training apparatus having the rear roller pad designed to be changeable in posture,
  • In the eighth aspect, the training apparatus set forth above may further comprise an input device adapted to accept a control input for the apparatus body by the user, wherein the tilt adjustment unit is operable to tiltingly move the seat only during a duration of the input operation to the input device.
  • In this training apparatus, a tilt angle of the seat is changed only during a duration of the input operation to the input device (i.e., only during a period where the input operation to the input device is continuously performed. Specifically, the user after sitting on the seat can freely adjust the angle, while feeling the angle which is being changing stepwise and a state of the legs, by the moment, and interrupting the input operation to appropriately rest the legs. For example, in a training apparatus designed such that a tilt angle of a seat is automatically changed to a predetermined value after an input device is manually operated only once, excessive load is likely to be undesirably imposed on the user's legs. The above training apparatus can prevent occurrence of such an undesirable situation.
  • This application is based on Japanese patent application serial No. 2006-124419, filed in Japan Patent Office on Apr. 27, 2006, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.
  • Although the present invention has been fully described by way of example with reference to the accompanied drawings, it is to be understood that various changes and modifications will be apparent to those skilled in the art. Therefore, unless otherwise such changes and modifications depart from the scope of the present invention hereinafter defined, they should be construed as being included therein.

Claims (10)

1. A training apparatus comprising:
a seat mounted on an apparatus body;
a training mechanism disposed in front of said seat and provided with a mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user;
a load-applying unit adapted to apply a braking force to a movement of said training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner; and
a tilt adjustment unit for tilting said seat so as to move a front end of said seat in a vertical direction.
2. The training apparatus according to claim 1, wherein said training mechanism including:
a pair of roller pads each adapted to be disposed in a horizontal posture so as to hold the user's legs therebetween; and
a posture shifting mechanism adapted to allow said pair of roller pads to be shifted between a first posture for holding the user's legs therebetween and a second posture for releasing said leg holding state.
3. The training apparatus according to claim 2, wherein said posture shifting mechanism being provided at an end of a front one of said roller pads and said posture shifting mechanism sets said pair of roller pads in parallel relation to each other and in front & rear relation with respect to the user in top view in said first posture and sets said front roller pad of said roller pads in standing state in said second posture.
4. The training apparatus according to claim 3, further comprising:
a lock mechanism for locking said front roller pad in said second posture; and
a manual operation unit for releasing the locked state of said front roller pad by said lock mechanism, said manual operation unit being arranged at a position where the user can manually operate it while sitting on said seat.
5. The training apparatus according to claim 1, further comprising:
an arm for supporting said pair of roller pads, said arm being swingably supported by a shaft which extends in a lateral direction of said apparatus body; and
an intermediate member interposed between said arm and said pair of roller pads for adjusting the position thereof along said arm.
6. The training apparatus according to claim 2, further comprising a detection unit which detects the posture of said pair of roller pads whether it is in said first posture or not, wherein said tilt adjustment unit is operable, when said detection unit detects the posture of said pair of roller pads being in said first posture, to prohibit said tilt movement of said seat.
7. The training apparatus according to claim 6, wherein said pair of roller pads are disposed in front and rear relation with respect to the user in top view; and said detection unit detects a posture of a front one of said pair of roller pads.
8. The training apparatus according to claim 4, further comprising an input device which accepts a control input for said apparatus body by the user, wherein said tilt adjustment unit is operable to tilt said seat only during an input operation period of said input device.
9. A training apparatus comprising:
a seat mounted on an apparatus body;
a training mechanism disposed in front of said seat and provided with a mechanism adapted to exercise legs of a user; said training mechanism including:
a pair of roller pads, each adapted to be disposed in a horizontal posture so as to hold the user's legs therebetween; said roller pads including a front roller pad and a second roller pad; and
a posture switching mechanism for switching a posture of a front roller pad between a first posture where said front roller pad and said second roller pad both extend horizontally for enabling holding of the user's legs therebetween and a second posture where said front roller pad having been swung upward and said second roller pad maintaining the horizontal posture for releasing the holding state of the user's legs therebetween;
a load-applying means for applying a braking force to a movement of said training mechanism in an electrically adjustable manner; and
a tilt adjustment means for tilting said seat so as to move a front end of said seat in a vertical direction.
10. The training apparatus according to claim 9, further comprising a swingable arm for holding said roller pairs thereto via a support plate mounted on the swingable arm; and wherein said front roller pad having one longitudinal end rotatably supported around a front support shaft horizontally extending from the support plate in said first posture thereof and said one end of the front roller pad being so connected to said support plate such that said front roller pad is pivotable around a coupling pin extending in a direction orthogonal to that of said front support shaft.
US11/707,591 2006-04-27 2007-02-15 Training apparatus Abandoned US20070254787A1 (en)

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