US20190038053A1 - Travel pillow and methods of use - Google Patents

Travel pillow and methods of use Download PDF

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Publication number
US20190038053A1
US20190038053A1 US15/670,568 US201715670568A US2019038053A1 US 20190038053 A1 US20190038053 A1 US 20190038053A1 US 201715670568 A US201715670568 A US 201715670568A US 2019038053 A1 US2019038053 A1 US 2019038053A1
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Prior art keywords
collar
strap
travel pillow
user
travel
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Abandoned
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US15/670,568
Inventor
David E. Brantingham
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David E. Brantingham
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Priority to US15/670,568 priority Critical patent/US20190038053A1/en
Publication of US20190038053A1 publication Critical patent/US20190038053A1/en
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47GHOUSEHOLD OR TABLE EQUIPMENT
    • A47G9/00Bed-covers; Counterpanes; Travelling rugs; Sleeping rugs; Sleeping bags; Pillows
    • A47G9/10Pillows
    • A47G9/1081Pillows comprising a neck support, e.g. a neck roll
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A45HAND OR TRAVELLING ARTICLES
    • A45FTRAVELLING OR CAMP EQUIPMENT: SACKS OR PACKS CARRIED ON THE BODY
    • A45F3/00Travelling or camp articles; Sacks or packs carried on the body
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A47FURNITURE; DOMESTIC ARTICLES OR APPLIANCES; COFFEE MILLS; SPICE MILLS; SUCTION CLEANERS IN GENERAL
    • A47CCHAIRS; SOFAS; BEDS
    • A47C7/00Parts, details, or accessories of chairs or stools
    • A47C7/36Support for the head or the back
    • A47C7/38Support for the head or the back for the head
    • A47C7/383Detachable or loose head- or neck-supports, e.g. horse-shoe shaped
    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A42HEADWEAR
    • A42BHATS; HEAD COVERINGS
    • A42B1/00Hats; Caps; Hoods
    • A42B1/04Soft caps; Hoods

Abstract

A travel pillow including a collar formed of a reversibly compressible material configured for placement around a user's neck, the collar having opposing ends that open and close the collar, and a mid-section having a rigid support member extending vertically about the height of the collar and a flexible support member extending longitudinally about half the length of the collar and tensioned to bias the collar in an open position; and an elongated strap removably attached at one end to the midsection.

Description

    TECHNICAL FIELD
  • The invention relates generally to consumer travel products and more specifically to a travel pillow having a collar that maintains proper head and spine alignment and a removably attachable strap configured for placement underneath the user while in a seated position, thereby maintaining a desired head and neck position by way of the user's weight.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • When travelling by air, standard economy class seats recline at an angle of about 31 degrees from the upright position and are designed with a concave “C” shape, which lacks lumbar support. To this end, travelers frequently find themselves sitting in an uncomfortable upright cupped position with little to no rearward gravity assist to hold the back or head against the seat. Even though uncomfortable, often travelers attempt to rest and sleep in this upright position. However, this tends to result in muscle groups holding the head upright to relax, thereby permitting the head to slump or tilt forward and/or to the left or right. Head tilt, while resting or sleeping upright, can create a strain on the neck muscles after only a few minutes. Such strain causes neck muscle or upper back discomfort and pain.
  • Accordingly, there is a need for improved devices and methods that permit travelers to rest or sleep in an upright position, which provide proper head-spine alignment, and that provide support in a variety of upright resting and sleeping positions.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention addresses the need for a device that improves head-spine alignment and relative head and neck positioning while resting or sleeping upright. This is achieved by way of a travel pillow that maintains proper alignment of the head and spine, while also being adjustable to maintain the body at a desired upright resting or sleeping angle. More specifically, a travel pillow that provides neck and head support in a plurality of seating positions is provided, which includes a collar formed of reversibly compressible material configured for placement around a user's neck, the collar having opposing ends that reversibly open and close the collar and a mid-section that includes a rigid support member that extends vertically about the height of the collar and a flexible support member that extends longitudinally about half the length of the collar tensioned to bias the collar in an open position; and an elongated strap removably attached at one end to the mid-section.
  • In preferred embodiments, the flexible support member biases a region of the outer collar outward when the opposing ends are closed, thereby reducing compression along the side of the user's neck. This is preferably accomplished through forces exerted on the flexible support caused when bending the opposing ends to close the collar. The flexible support member and rigid support member are each preferably configured as a flattened rod affixed to the collar.
  • The rigid support member is aligned with the elongated strap so that force exerted downward from pulling on the strap is applied against the rigid support member, thereby reducing potential collapse of the collar.
  • In some embodiments the travel pillow further includes a chin strap that is adjustable in length and configured to span opposing ends of the collar. The travel pillow can also include a supplement pad that removably attaches to the midsection of the collar to adjust the contour and position of a headrest. In further embodiments supplemental pad is notched to provide a gap for passage of the elongated strap.
  • In a related aspect, a method for a using a travel pillow while in a plurality of seating positions is also provided, which includes providing the travel pillow; closing the opposing ends of collar around the neck of the user; sitting over the strap while in a seating position and extending a free end of the strap underneath the body; and pulling the free end to tension the strap, thereby pulling the collar to a desired position and maintaining the position by weight of the user's body, thereby preventing the head of the user from falling forward. Preferably, the collar is fitted beneath the chin and jaw but only loosely against or away from the sides of the user's neck in regions of the carotid arteries. In embodiments having the chin strap, the chin strap is positioned to receive the chin and attached to the collar. In some embodiments, a supplement pad is attached to the midsection of the collar to adjust the contour and position of a headrest. Quick releasing of the collar, such as to permit standing, can be performed by detaching the strap from the collar, which releases the force exerted by the strap.
  • In another related aspect, a travel kit is provided, which includes the travel pillow; and one or more travel accessories such as a supplement pad that removably attaches to the midsection to adjust the thickness of the travel pillow, a lumbar support pad, a sleeping mask, and a travel bag.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF DRAWINGS
  • Embodiments of the invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings, which form part of the specification and represent preferred embodiments. The components shown in the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention. And, in the drawings, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.
  • FIG. 1 depicts use of a travel pillow 10 by a traveler seated on an airplane.
  • FIG. 2A is a front view showing a collar 12 with opposing ends 12 a, 12 b opened to receive the neck of a user.
  • FIG. 2B is a front view showing a collar 12 in a closed position and the collar 12 biased outward along its sides 12 c, 12 d to reduce compression along the sides of a user's neck. Also shown is an attached chin strap 38.
  • FIG. 3A is a side view showing a vertically extending rigid support member 28 at about the midsection 24 of the collar 12 and a horizontally extending flexible support member 16 that biases the collar 12 in an open position.
  • FIG. 3B is a rear view showing the midsection 24 and rigid support member 28.
  • FIG. 4 depicts a cover 22 for covering the compressible material and having a partially attached chin strap 38. Also shown is a hook and loop (VELCRO) attachment site 54.
  • FIG. 5A is rear view showing the collar 12 in a closed position with outwardly biased side regions 12 c, 12 d to reduce compression against the carotid artery and a seat strap 30 attached at one end to the midsection 24 and at an opposing end to a weighed counterweight 34, embodied as a toggle.
  • FIG. 5B is a rear view showing the quick release buckle 36 of the seat strap 30. Also shown is a hook and loop (VELCRO) attachment site 54.
  • FIG. 6 is a front view showing the travel pillow 10 worn about the neck with chin strap 38 in a closed position.
  • FIG. 7 is a rear view of the travel pillow with the supplement pad 42 attached and notched to form a gap 44.
  • FIG. 8A is an exemplary travel kit 46 that includes the travel pillow 10.
  • FIG. 8B is a rear view of a lumbar support pad 48 optionally provided in the travel kit 46 of FIG. 8A.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTIONS OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
  • For clarity of disclosure, and not by way of limitation, the invention is discussed according to various preferred embodiments. Now, referring collectively to FIGS. 1-8B, a travel pillow 10 is provided, which provides proper ergonomic head and neck support while resting or sleeping in an upright seated position. In particular, the travel pillow positions the head vertically over the spine, yet permits some minor front to back and left to right head movement without causing misalignment between the head and spine. Slight movements of front to back and left to right head tilt (of less than a few degrees) is permitted, which is within accepted tolerances that do not lead to neck or upper back muscle strain.
  • As shown in FIGS. 1 and 6, the travel pillow 10 includes a collar 12 that is formed of a reversibly compressible material 14 that provides sufficient support when placed over the clavicle and under the chin and jaws to prevent the head from substantially tilting side to side or front to back, yet sufficiently compresses for comfort. Thus, while the collar 12 has sufficient compression for comfort, it is also sufficiently rigid to maintain the head in a substantially upright position over the spine. To this end, the travel pillow maintains the ordinary upright relative position of the user's head and the neck. Examples of suitable reversibly compressible materials 14 for use as a collar 12 include a variety of foams cut to a suitable width, such as about 1 inch. In some embodiments, the foam is a high density foam. In some embodiments the foam is an Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) foam. As shown more clearly in FIGS. 2A-3B, the reversibly compressible material 14 is generally cut to a rectangular prism shape with a height configured to snuggly fit underneath the jaw and over the clavicle. The size and shape of the collar 12 is such that the travel pillow 10, when closed, wraps around the neck in such a way that the lower edge of the collar 12 rests firmly on the clavicle or collar bones, while the upper edge fits snuggly under the chin and jaw bone. This is critical because for proper ergonomic head and neck support while resting or sleeping in an upright seated position, the head must be positioned vertically over the spine. The only way to do this is to provide circular support around the neck that is anchored on the bottom side to the shoulders and collar bone, and to the top side under the jaw bone and chin. To this end, typically the height is about 3.5 to 4.5 inches. The embodiment shown throughout the drawings has a height of 4 inches.
  • As shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the opposing ends 12 a, 12 b of the collar 12 reversibly open and close to open and close the collar 12. Since the collar 12 is biased in an open position by way of the flexible support member 16 (FIGS. 3A, 3B), a nylon strap 18 sewn to the collar 12 with complementary locking structures 20 a, 20 b, such as quick release buckles, secure the ends to prevent undesired opening of the collar 12. One of ordinary skill in the art to which the invention belongs would recognize that the nylon strap 18 can be sewn or glued to the compressible material directly, or as shown in FIG. 4, can be sewn to a cover 22 that covers the reversibly compressible material. Naturally the strap 18 can also be adjustable in length to adjust the size of the collar 12 when closed.
  • As shown collectively in FIGS. 3A and 3B, the collar's mid-section 24 is positioned about halfway between the opposing ends 12 a, 12 b and is positioned behind the neck of the user when the travel pillow is in use. Extending horizontally across the mid-section 24 is the flexible support member 16. In particular, the flexible support member 16 extends longitudinally along the reversibly compressible material 14 over about half its length. The flexible support member 16 is bent inward and attached to the reversibly compressible material 14 such that the collar 12 is ultimately configured in a relative “C” shape when in the open position to help fitting around the user's neck. Attachment of the flexible support member 16 can be by several ways including, but not limited to, inserting the flexible support member 16 into a longitudinal sleeve 26 formed along a portion of the length of the reversibly compressible material 14. That is, the flexible support member 16 is sewn under tension to form the “C” shape, which forms the biased state. Due to the elastic properties of the flexible support member 16, the collar 12 remains biased in the open position. Furthermore by maintaining the opposing ends of the collar 12 free from the flexible support member 16 (about the terminal 25% of the length on each side), closing the collar 12 tends to bend the opposing ends regions 12 a, 12 b first, followed by bending the flexible support member 16. By providing the selective bending of the opposing ends 12 a, 12 b prior to the remaining 50% of the collar 12, the flexible support member 16 tends to spread outward the regions of the collar 12 that would normally be adjacent to the carotid arteries of the user. The structural implication is that the sides 12 c, 12 d of the collar 12 are positioned only loosely against or away from the neck, yet under the jaw, thereby avoiding significant compression of the carotid arteries even when tightening the opposing ends 12 a, 12 b. Functionally, this loose association or gap between the collar 12 and user's neck permits the user to rotate the head while maintaining proper alignment between head and spine, and permits minor side to side or front to back movement (such as only a few degrees). To this end, the head can remain in proper alignment yet permit subtle movement that does not cause injury. Still further, the biased flexible support member 16 increases the feasible stiffness for the compressible material 14 thereby increasing potential support provided by the travel pillow 10.
  • The flexible support member 16 is made of material that is less bendable than the reversibly compressible material 14, yet more bendable than the material used for the rigid support member 28. The flexible support member 16 can be embodied in a variety of different shapes including, but not limited to, a rod, a flatten rod, and a rectangular prism.
  • The rigid support member 28 is stiff and thus formed significantly less bendable than both the flexible support member 16 and the collar's reversibly compressible material 14. The rigid support member 28 is positioned at the midsection 24, extending vertically about the height of the collar 12 and prevents or reduces collapse of the collar 12 on itself when a pulling force is pulled downward on the collar 12. Shown more clearly in FIG. 1, the collar 12 experiences tension forces in the vertically downward direction by way of the elongated strap 30 during adjustment and/or maintaining a position, which were initially found to cause collapse of the collar 12. The rigid support member 28 was developed to have a sufficiently rigidity to endure these downward forces and maintain the structural integrity and shape of the collar 12. Referring to FIGS. 1, 3B, and 5A collectively, to further counter the downward forces, the rigid support member 28 is aligned nearby or adjacent the connection point of elongated strap 30 thereby further increasing the collar's 12 structural integrity and resilience at the site where the force is applied. The rigid support member 28 can also be formed in a variety of different shapes including, but not limited to, a rod, a flattened rod, and a rectangular prism. The rigid support member 28 is preferably attached to the compressible material 14 of the collar 12, such as by gluing or more preferably by insertion into a vertically extending sleeve 32.
  • The travel pillow 10 is adjusted and retained in position by the elongated strap 30. The elongated strap 30 is removably attached to the collar 12 at one end and the opposing free end has a counter weight 34 embodied as a toggle that biases the free end downward due to its weight. The strap 30 is itself formed of conventional nylon webbing or similar material. During use, the user attaches the opposing ends of the collar 12 around the neck and permits the strap 30 to hang downward due to the counterweight 34. The user sits over the strap 30 such that the end having the counter weight 34 extends underneath the body and the user pulls the weighted end of the strap 30 underneath the body and between the legs. By pulling the strap 30, the user causes the collar 12 to pull the head and neck upright from a slouching position. Continued pulling pins the neck and head against the headrest. By remaining seated over the strap 30, the user's own weight prevents the collar 12 from falling forward under the weight of the head and thus the gravitational force of the user's own weight is utilized to maintain the upright position of the collar 12 and thus head and neck. To this end, the collar 12 maintains the alignment of the head and spine, while the strap 30 prevents the user from tilting while resting or asleep. Furthermore, by attaching the strap 30 to the midsection 24 and positioning the rigid support member 28 nearby or adjacent to the attachment site, collapse of the collar 12 is avoided.
  • While the above approach was found highly effective at maintaining the user's head and neck in an upright position, challenges with the above seated orientation were encountered when transitioning to a standing position or when greater flexibility is required, such as during food service. There can be difficulty standing when secured in the seated position since the body is limited in its forward leaning motion. That is, when transitioning to a standing position the body tends to first lean forward; however, this leaning is countered by the tension force of the strap under the weight of the user. This technical challenge was overcome at least in part by attaching the strap 30 to the collar 12 via removably connectable structures 36, such as a quick release buckle. The removably connectable structures 36 permit the user to reach behind the collar 12 and easily disconnect the strap 30, thereby releasing the tension force.
  • As shown more clearly in FIG. 6, in some embodiments the travel pillow 10 also includes a removably connectable chin strap 38. Shown collectively in FIGS. 2B and 6, the chin strap 38 is preferably connected to the collar 12 via removably connectable structures 40, such as a quick release buckle. The benefit of the chin strap 38 is that it allows the user the option of resting or sleeping in a forward leaning position, where the head and neck are not resting against or touching any part of the seat. Some users find this position more advantageous than a rear leaning position. To this end, the chin strap 38 allows forward leaning positions to be maintained that would normally be unsupported by the reversibly compressible material 14 of the travel pillow 10.
  • The chin strap 38 can be attached to either the compressible material 14 directly or to a cover 22 as shown in FIG. 4. The chin strap 38 is adjustable in length and configured to generally span the opposing ends 12 a, 12 b of the collar 12 when attached to the collar 12. By “generally span the opposing ends” it is meant that the chin strap 38 crosses the opposing end regions of collar 12 but is not required to pass the farthest endpoints of the collar 12. An example is shown in FIG. 6, where the chin strap 38 cross slightly before the farthest most opposing ends 12 a, 12 b. The chin strap 38 is designed for comfortable fit around the user's chin when wearing the travel pillow 10.
  • Turning to FIGS. 5B and 7, in some embodiments the travel pillow 10 also includes a supplement pad 42 attachable to the travel pillow 10 at the mid-section 24, such as by way of hook and loop (VELCRO) attachment site 54. The supplement pad 42 adjusts the thickness of the rear portion of the travel pillow 10, thereby adjusting the contour and position of a headrest behind the user for head and neck support. Since the supplement pad 42 is position in the same general region the strap 30 at the midsection 24, the supplement pad 42 is preferably notched to form a gap 44 and permit passage of the strap 30.
  • In furtherance of the above, a method for using the travel pillow 10 is provided, which includes providing a travel pillow 10 substantially as set forth above; sitting over the strap 30 while in a seating position and extending a free end of the strap 30 underneath the body; and pulling the free end to tension the strap 30, thereby pulling the collar 12 rearwards to a desired position and maintaining the position by weight of the user's body, thereby preventing the head of the user from falling forward. More specifically, once the travel pillow 10 is attached and the user is sitting on the strap 30, the user can adjust their upright resting or sleeping position by pulling the strap 30 away from the back of the seat to pin the head and neck against the back rest of the seat, or by releasing the strap 30, optionally raising a bit, and pulling their head and neck forwards with sufficient force. The user can also adjust their head position by attaching the supplement pad 42 to the mid-section 24 of the collar 12 before sitting over the strap 30. For further adjustment, by pulling the strap 30 tightly towards the seat in front will hold the travel pillow 10 more securely to the seat's headrest area to the fit the individual user's preferred resting or sleeping position. The method may also include transitioning to a standing position by detaching the strap 30 from the mid-section 24 before standing, thereby releasing the tension force.
  • In view of the above, the collar 12 is fitted beneath the user's chin and jaw but only loosely against or away from the side of the user's neck. When the travel pillow 10 is provided with the chin strap 38 that is adjustable in length and configured to span the opposing ends of the collar 12, the method also includes attaching the chin strap 38 around the chin of the user.
  • Finally turning to FIGS. 8A-8B, and in furtherance of the above, a travel kit 46 is also provided, which includes a travel pillow 10 as set forth above; and one or more travel accessories selected from the group consisting of a supplement pad 42 that reversibly attaches to the mid-section 24 to adjust the thickness of the mid-section 24 of the travel pillow 10, a lumbar support pad 48, a sleeping mask 50, and a travel bag 52.

Claims (12)

What is claimed is:
1. A travel pillow that provides neck and head support in a plurality of seating positions, comprising:
(a) a collar formed of a reversibly compressible material configured for placement around a user's neck, the collar comprising opposing ends that open and close the collar, and a mid-section comprising a rigid support member extending vertically about the height of the collar and a flexible support member extending longitudinally about half the length of the collar and tensioned to bias the collar in an open position; and
(b) an elongated strap removably attached at one end to the midsection.
2. The travel pillow of claim 1, wherein the flexible support member biases the middle half of the collar outward when the opposing ends are closed, thereby reducing compression along the side of the user's neck.
3. The travel pillow of claim 1, wherein the rigid support member and the flexible support member are each configured as a flattened rod affixed to the collar.
4. The travel pillow of claim 1, wherein the rigid support member is aligned with the elongated strap so that force exerted downward from the strap is applied against the rigid support member, thereby reducing collapse of the collar when the collar is tensioned downward by way of the elongated strap.
5. The travel pillow of claim 1, further comprising of a chin strap that is adjustable in length and configured to span the opposing ends of the collar.
6. The travel pillow of claim 1, further comprising a supplement pad that removably attaches to the midsection to adjust the thickness of the travel pillow, thereby adjusting contour and position of a headrest.
7. The travel pillow of claim 6, wherein the supplement pad is notched to provide a gap for passage of the elongated strap.
8. A method for using a travel pillow while in a plurality of seated positions, comprising:
(a) providing the travel pillow according to claim 1;
(b) closing the opposing ends of the collar around the neck of a user;
(c) sitting over the strap while in a seating position and extending a free end of the strap underneath the body; and
(d) pulling the free end to tension the strap, thereby pulling the collar rearwards to a desired position and maintaining the position by weight of the user's body, thereby preventing the head of the user from falling forward.
9. The method of claim 8, wherein the collar is fitted beneath the user's chin and jaw but only loosely against or away from the side of the user's neck.
10. The method of claim 8, wherein the travel pillow further comprises a chin strap that is adjustable in length and configured to span the opposing ends of the collar, the method further comprising attaching the chin strap around the chin of the user.
11. The method according to claim 8, further comprising transitioning to a standing position by detaching the strap from the mid-section before standing, thereby releasing the force exerted by the strap.
12. A travel kit comprising:
(a) the travel pillow according to claim 1; and
(b) one or more travel accessories selected from the group consisting of a supplement pad that reversibly attaches to the midsection to adjust the thickness of the travel pillow, a lumbar support pad, a sleeping mask, and a travel bag.
US15/670,568 2017-08-07 2017-08-07 Travel pillow and methods of use Abandoned US20190038053A1 (en)

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US15/670,568 US20190038053A1 (en) 2017-08-07 2017-08-07 Travel pillow and methods of use
CN201810230549.8A CN108354399A (en) 2017-08-07 2018-03-20 A kind of travel suit of travel pillow and its application method and application
CN201820378735.1U CN208988345U (en) 2017-08-07 2018-03-20 A kind of travel pillow and its travel suit used

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US10893754B1 (en) 2020-04-09 2021-01-19 Jay Patrick Cooke Modular and adjustable headrest
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