FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The present invention relates to anti-ballistic systems, and more particularly to a versatile human body upper limb anti-ballistic guard that is of a relatively lightweight construction and which provides ballistic protection with a full range of motion and joint articulation for the upper arm, elbow, and lower arm of an individual, a soldier, or a policeman.
The modern battlefield is more dangerous and violent than ever before. “Smart” weapons, automatic weapons, and improved munitions have dramatically increased the probability of multiple injuries to combatants. Multiple injuries decrease the proportion of surviving wounded. Combat wounds are unique in that there is a high percentage of penetrating wounds and multi-system etiologic injuries with a high degree of wound contamination. The nature of asymmetric warfare has moved a portion of the battlefield in to an urban or indigenous setting. The opponent's unconventional weapon of choice, the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) causes projectile wounds to upper limbs. Modern armor, aggressive application of tourniquets on the injured limbs and extremities, and rapid medical care help most of the injured survive.
Ballistic protection systems are widely used throughout the world in military, police, personnel protection, and security applications. The range and types of anti-ballistic protection systems are vast. For example, there is a wide range of heavy-duty anti-ballistic protection devices that are commonly employed on and around military vehicles. Much attention has been given to the individual soldier or policeman. In that regard, much research and development has been devoted to providing improved body armor, for example, in the form of improved anti-ballistic vests, bulletproof torso protection, etc. However, no feasible option for upper limb protection has been provided or fielded, which clearly demonstrates an unmet need. The hands and arms are the platform for any personal weapons system a soldier or policeman may carry. Upper limbs are almost always exposed and vulnerable, which is a major weakness in the current individual defensive platform.
Therefore, there has been and continues to be a need for a versatile anti-ballistic protection device for an individual soldier, or policeman upper extremity that provides upper arm, elbow, and lower arm ballistic protection with full range of motion and joint articulation without sacrificing mobility or the ability to maneuver. Additionally, there is a need for a supplemental feature of this device that enables self or buddy aid in the form of tourniquets for wounded extremities, thereby decreasing mortality and increasing survivability for the wearer.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The present invention relates to contoured segments of rigid or semi-rigid protective ballistic materials and form fitted segments of pliable ballistic materials constructed from modern high-performance fibers disposed within an outer shell or carrier or abrasion, moisture, and flame resistant pliable materials. The outer shell or carrier is provided with a series of, straps and fasteners for positioning and securing the device to the wearer's upper arm, elbow, and lower arm, providing frontal skeletal and muscular, and side skeletal and muscular protection from bullets and ballistic projectiles. The upper portion of the invention incorporates a pre-positioned tourniquet device for rapid application in case of injury to the upper limb. Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent and obvious from a study of the following description and the accompanying drawings which are merely illustrative of such invention.
Other objects, features, and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the invention and certain modifications thereof when taken together with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIG. 1 is a profile perspective view of the right and left arm guard of the present invention.
As required, detailed features and embodiments of the invention are disclosed herein. However, it is to be understood that the disclosed features and embodiments are merely exemplary of the technology that may be embodied in various and alternative forms. The figures are not necessarily to scale, and some features may be exaggerated or minimized to show details of particular components. Therefore, specific structural and functional details disclosed herein, and any particular combination of these details, are not to be interpreted as limiting, but merely as a basis for claims and as a representative basis for teaching one skilled in the art to variously employ the technology.
The present invention is configured to primarily provide frontal ballistic protection for the wearer's upper arm, elbow, and lower arm. The upper portion of the invention contains frontal plates consisting of a rigid or semi-rigid ballistic material. This protection is supplemented by a layer of pliable ballistic material which acts as the undercover of the plate. Furthermore, ballistic components are covered in a flame retardant material. A contoured protective support pad provides protection for the elbow of the wearer while engaged in tasks that subject this area to discomfort caused by impacts or pressure. The protective support pad protects from protruding objects and debris (e.g. rocks and gravel, glass) and does not overly restrict range of motion or circulation while remaining securely in place during individual movement tactics. Under impact loading conditions, the padding demonstrates a non-shock type response. Under constant compression loading conditions, the padding endures minimal deflection and readily recovers to near original thickness. The fasteners provide a secure, substantially continuously contoured fit during movement and repositioning. The contoured protective pad provides a non-slip surface that also protects the wearer from external protruding objects. Incorporated into the securing straps is a tourniquet comprised of a rigid cylindrical tensioning rod, a tensioning strap circumferentially applied circumferentially around the location expected to be proximate to the brachial artery. This enables the wearer to engage the tensioning rod and apply tension to the tourniquet. The end product is re-enforced ballistic covering for upper extremities designed to defeat smalls arms and IED attacks, and to increase survivability after sustaining injuries, in part through timely application of a tourniquet.
The portion of the invention that provides protection to the forearm is comprised of contoured segments of rigid or semi-rigid ballistic material providing full frontal skeletal and muscular protection for this portion of the limb. The rigid or semi-rigid ballistic material is contained within an outer carrier constructed of a pliable, abrasion, moisture, and flame resistant quick drying material capable of accepting various Camouflage design patterns. The rigid or semi-rigid pliable carrier is attached to a segment of pliable and flexible high-performance ballistic material that provides side skeletal and muscular ballistic protection. This protective section contains a variety of straps and attachment devices allowing the wearer to secure the device comfortably to the limb circumferentially around the forearm. The rigid plates are contoured around the forearm to allow articulation of the joint to the extent of full range of motion of the wrist. The plates snap back to the lowest possible profile position in the range of motion and stay secured to the arm by means of a padded circumferential strap placed around the wrist and attached with the tension desired by the wearer without restriction to circulation blood flow or physical movement of the limb.
The entire device can be donned and doffed over uniforms. The device dimensions are proportionally modified to achieve the appropriate dimensions for individual body sizes categorized as small, medium, and large. The series of attachment devices are aligned along the lateral arm for rapid disengagement of the item in emergency medical situations, which supports the trauma process.
With further reference to the drawing, the arm guard is shown herein. Generally the arm guard includes an outer shell, housing, or ballistic material carrier that holds an inner housing or shell indicated by 3 that in turn encompasses and holds a ballistic material core indicated by 2A and 2C which in one embodiment comprises an aramid fiber panel, ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene fiber panel, or a combination of these and other high performance fibers.
The invention is comprised of these material items: at least one tourniquet including, 1A tension rod, 1B strap, 1C anchor clip, 1D anchor base, 1E anchoring clip; 2A contoured non-slip rigid or semi-rigid ballistic material, 2B heavy elastic strap, 2C flexible pliable ballistics material, 2D flexible foam padding; 3 ballistic material cover or “spoil shield” over 2A and 2C components; 4 thermal insulation material; 5 outer shell or ballistic material carrier of a pliable, abrasion, moisture, and flame resistant quick drying material capable of accepting various Camouflage design patterns.
As further description of the technology, it comprises a carrier and a ballistics package. The carrier is the envelope which the ballistic package either fits into, or otherwise attaches onto for the purpose of holding it into position. The ballistic package is the armor, either flexible or rigid. Ballistic is referenced normally to bullets, fragmentation is referenced normal to the shrapnel or debris created as primary or secondary missiles during an explosion. The rigid portion of the hybrid ballistic package at the elbow serves as a capping section which is comprised of a cap that is held by tension bands substantially central to the point of the elbow. This also acts as a pinion of the articulation of the elbow joint where the proximal and distal plates meet. The elbow cap is proximate size the standard issue and commercial available impact pads, or a concave shape roughly 3 inches by 5 inches and about ¾-2 inches recessed from the rim to the apex of the concave portion, like a knee cap shaped bowl.
The distal (forearm) plate contours the front of the radial and ulna bones with the primary purpose of protection from blunt force trauma. It flares at the wrist to such a degree that it will not prevent the hand from being pulled back as far as a typical wearer can. The carrier is anchored to the arm by means of attachment mechanisms. Materials for this application may be cloth, nylon, wire or metal based, plastic or other materials. Use of textiles is in compliance with current ISO manufacturing guidelines.
A flexible “memory” material is used for anchoring the assembly to the arm at the bicep and distal to the elbow, and at the wrist. A “non-memory,” “not stretchy” material such as fire resistant nylon webbing is used for the attachment point above mid bicep which is incorporated into the tourniquet assembly. Since the webbing of this attachment point is the constriction band of the tourniquet, any stretch is limited to the point at which the tourniquet can be adequately controlled when tightened, preferably, this is no stretch. This strap is strong and fire resistant, so that it will survive a blast and not burned or destroyed, and can still function as a constricting band after that blast on that limb. This strap is placed approximately 2 to 4 inches above the elbow, in the location a tourniquet would be placed on a patient. It is not placed directly around the elbow because it will hinder arm flexion, impede circulation in the arm, and would hurt. The tourniquet strap is per accepted tourniquet guidelines, e.g., approximately between 1 and 2 inches wide. These straps are anchored to the carrier on the medial side, wrap around the back of the arm, and anchor to the lateral side of the leg by means such as hook and loop, clips, mechanic devices, snaps, D-Rings, side release buckles or retainers. The upper strap “tourniquet strap” is attached back to the plate assembly with a locking mechanism to reduce the likelihood that the strap will slip or self loosen. The straps are accessible from the lateral aspect of the wearer so that securing points may be cut away if required for medical treatment. The tension of the straps is adjusted by means such as a tension buckle or adjusting the length of the strap, the strength of the elastic of area, or placement of the hook and loop. This allows for flexibility, e.g., in limb girth, for the wearing of cold weather clothing. The tension bar is a stiff rod about 5 inches long and just large enough to easily grip with one or two hands. It is seated over the securing strap just above the elbow. Each end is held in place by a triangle-shaped restraining piece. Each restraining piece is attached (e.g., sewn) to the carrier all one flat side, allowing a pointed side to point forward, in which the tension bar is held. The pointed side can fold outward releasing the tension bar, so it can be twisted to tighten the tourniquet. The pointed end of the triangle can then be folded back into position, locking the tension bar in place. The tension rod is covered with a fitted cover/flap which can be quickly and easily to expose the tourniquet bar. This flap reduces the likelihood that the assembly will snag on things when not in use.
The rigid impact protection is substantially centered to the front of the device, allowing the soft armor to wrap around the front half of the limb. This allows for a formed fit for different shapes and girth of the limb/extremity. The joints allow one way flexion, which is a stronger joint structure. The distal plate assembly is held in place relative to the boot by a padded strap fitting around the wrist. Padding such as fire resistant lined memory foam is used in a mechanism placed at the wrist that allows tension control. The piece is held securely to the wrist, but allows the wrist to twist inside the hybrid plate, not hindering the rotation of the forearm within the distal assembly.
The material choice and the hardware selection has been made to lower the weight of each unit over traditional armor while allowing for maximum strength. For example, in some embodiments securing straps are three elastic, one non-elastic and (tourniquet assembly). The device is easily donned and doffed. Access to securing straps is from the side, for medical access, and may be cut away wholly or by section, as per a tourniquet challenge. The rigid portion of the ballistic package is disassemblable for replacement or maintenance. A padded sleeve incorporated into some embodiments of the device to guide the arm for donning, and for comfort of fit during wear. The material is durable, but allow for ventilation and for comfort.