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Modular tube and table retrofitable to a wheelchair

Abstract
A tabletop which is effectively easily retrofitable onto a wheelchair without any drilling or welding. The design can support an electronic device for computer-assisted living or simply provide a worksurface for reading or eating. The tabletop assembly is stabilized by an adjustable support structure. A mounting clamp may be provided to mount to the frame of the wheelchair, or a welded mounting tube can be provided which attaches onto the wheelchair footrest. The tabletop can be used in tandem with an optional horizontal panel which is mounted over the tabletop and top-hat brackets to support items such as an electronic device or a beverage. Alternatively, the tabletop can include a control panel which includes, for example, one or more pushbuttons, joy sticks and/or trackballs.

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Inventors: Goschy; Patrick E.; (Elmhurst, IL) ; Sedor; Thomas M.; (Orland Park, IL)
Correspondence Name and Address: TREXLER, BUSHNELL, GIANGIORGI,;BLACKSTONE & MARR, LTD.
105 WEST ADAMS STREET
SUITE 3600
CHICAGO
IL
60603
US


Serial No.: 200838
Series Code: 11
Filed: August 10, 2005

U.S. Current Class: 108/147
U.S. Class at Publication: 108/147
Intern'l Class: A47B 9/00 20060101 A47B009/00

 

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Claims

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1. A table for a wheelchair, said table comprising: means for mounting to a wheelchair; a tabletop; and support structure disposed between the mounting means and the tabletop.

2. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the mounting means comprises a mounting tube configured to mount to a footrest of a wheelchair.

3. A table as recited in claim 2, wherein the mounting tube comprises a vertical tube configured to receive an end of the support structure.

4. A table as recited in claim 3, wherein the mounting tube further comprises a top bracket which extends from the vertical tube and is configured to clear a top of the footrest of the wheelchair.

5. A table as recited in claim 4, wherein the mounting tube further comprises a horizontal bracket which extends from the vertical tube and is configured to mount to a pin of the footrest of the wheelchair.

6. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the tabletop comprises an enclosure.

7. A table as recited in claim 6, wherein the enclosure comprises a bottom panel and at least one contoured edge.

8. A table as recited in claim 6, wherein the enclosure comprises a bottom panel and edges having recesses formed therein, and wherein the enclosure further comprises a top panel which has edges which are configured to be received in the recesses, thereby supporting the top panel relative to the bottom panel.

9. A table as recited in claim 8, wherein the top panel has a circular cutout formed therein.

10. A table as recited in claim 8, further comprising brackets disposed between the top and bottom panels.

11. A table as recited in claim 10, wherein the brackets which are disposed between the top and bottom panels have air holes formed therein.

12. A table as recited in claim 1, further comprising a bracket disposed relative to the tabletop and the support structure such that a position of the tabletop is adjustable relative to the support structure.

13. A table as recited in claim 12, wherein the bracket which is disposed relative to the tabletop and the support structure such that a position of the tabletop is adjustable relative to the support structure includes a plurality of holes which are configured to receive corresponding structure on the support structure for securing the position of the tabletop relative to the support structure.

14. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the tabletop comprises a bottom panel, further comprising a bracket which is disposed under the bottom panel and which is configured to secure to the support structure.

15. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the support structure is adjustable such that a height of the tabletop is adjustable.

16. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the support structure is securable in the mounting means at different positions, such that a height of the tabletop is adjustable.

17. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the support structure is removable from the mounting means, and the mounting means is configured to receive a vertical tube which is configured to support an IV bag.

18. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the mounting means comprises a mounting clamp configured to secure to a frame of the wheelchair.

19. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the support structure comprises an upper support assembly and a lower support assembly, wherein the upper support assembly is configured to support the tabletop, is configured to telescope relative to the lower support assembly to facilitate height adjustment of the tabletop, and is configured to rotate relative to the lower support assembly such that the tabletop is orientateable away from the wheelchair.

20. A table as recited in claim 19, wherein the upper support assembly comprises a vertical tube which is configured to interact with corresponding structure on the lower support assembly to facilitate adjustment and securement of the vertical tube relative to the lower support assembly.

21. A table as recited in claim 20, wherein the lower support assembly comprises a tube and a plunger which is disposed on the tube and has a tip, wherein the vertical tube includes at least one opening which is configured to receive the tip of the plunger.

22. A table as recited in claim 19, further comprising a tabletop assembly which comprises a panel and a mounting bracket disposed on the panel and configured to engage corresponding structure on the upper support assembly for adjusting and securing a position of the panel.

23. A table as recited in claim 19, further comprising an inner mounting clamp which is configured to mount to the frame of the wheelchair, an outer mounting clamp which is configured to clamp to the lower support structure, and structure which is clamped by both the inner and outer mounting clamps such that the outer mounting clamp is spaced away from the inner mounting clamp.

24. A table as recited in claim 23, wherein both the inner and outer mounting clamps are comprised of a plurality of clamp sections held together by fasteners.

25. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the tabletop comprises a control panel having at least one manually operable component disposed thereon, said manually operable component comprising at least one of a pushbutton, a joystick and a trackball.

26. A table as recited in claim 25, wherein the control panel is configured to communicate with an electronic device.

27. A table as recited in claim 1, wherein the tabletop comprises an enclosure having a bottom panel and edges having recesses formed therein, and wherein the enclosure further comprises a top panel which has edges which are configured to be received in the recesses, thereby supporting the top panel relative to the bottom panel, wherein the top panel has at least one manually operable component disposed thereon, said manually operable component comprising at least one of a pushbutton, a joystick and a trackball.

28. A tabletop assembly for a wheelchair, said tabletop assembly comprising: a bottom panel having edges and a top panel which is configured to be retained by the edges, thereby forming an enclosure.

29. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 28, wherein the top panel has a circular cutout formed therein.

30. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 28, further comprising brackets disposed between the top and bottom panels.

31. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 30, wherein the brackets which are disposed between the top and bottom panels have air holes formed therein.

32. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 28, further comprising a bracket which is engageable with corresponding support structure, wherein a position of the tabletop assembly is adjustable relative to time support structure.

33. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 32, wherein the bracket which is engageable with corresponding support structure includes a plurality of holes which are configured to receive corresponding structure on the support structure for securing the position of the tabletop assembly relative to the support structure.

34. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 28, further comprising a bracket which is disposed under the bottom panel and which is configured to secure to corresponding support structure.

35. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 28, wherein the enclosure is configured to retain an electronic device therein, wherein the top panel protects said electronic device.

36. A tabletop assembly for a wheelchair, said tabletop assembly comprising a panel having at least one raised edge; a mounting bracket disposed on the panel and configured to engage corresponding structure for adjusting a position of the panel; and a mounting bracket disposed under the panel and configured to engage corresponding structure for securing the panel.

37. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 36, further comprising a top panel which is configured to be retained by edges of the bottom panel, thereby forming an enclosure.

38. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 36, further comprising brackets disposed between the top and bottom panels.

39. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 38, wherein the brackets which are disposed between the top and bottom panels have air holes formed therein.

40. A tabletop assembly as recited in claim 36, wherein the mounting bracket which is disposed on the panel and configured to engage corresponding structure for adjusting a position of the panel includes an opening for receiving a tube and a plurality of holes which are configured to receive a pin which is associated with the tube.
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Description

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RELATED APPLICATION (PRIORITY CLAIM)

[0001] This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/600,853, which was filed on Aug. 12, 2004, and which is hereby incorporated herein by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] The invention relates to a device which attaches to a wheelchair footrest and an adjustable table which can hold an electronic or computer device and can also serve as a work surface.

[0004] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0005] Currently, due to space limitations, a typical hospital room does not include a computer which can be used by the patient. Instead of being able to browse the internet, send and receive e-mails, or play computer games, a patient is left to do things such as read a newspaper or watch television to cure boredom. In some locations, it is not even possible to view a television due to a lack of space in a room.

[0006] Recent technologies have allowed computers to be manufactured in a unitary construction, whereby the computer's microprocessor, visual display and associated hardware are combined into one compact unit. The Personal Data Assistant (PDA), notebook computer and tablet PC are examples of products utilizing this space-saving technology.

[0007] One would think that these compact computer technologies could therefore be used by wheelchair patients in hospitals. However, there is no practical place for a patient to store a computerized device while being mobile in a wheelchair.

[0008] Standard pull-up tables have been in use for years. Typically, a pull-up table is comprised of an adjustable-height table supported by an upright element and mounted on a base with rolling castors. Such tables may also have a tilt function to allow the users to have a perpendicular view of the table surface while lying flat on their back.

[0009] While a pull-up table and other conventional table designs may be suitable for the particular purpose for which they serve, they are not portable enough for disabled or physically-challenged individuals who must utilize a wheelchair. This is due to the limitations of having to transport a table along with the wheelchair.

[0010] Another problem with conventional and pull-up tables is that there is no way of robustly supporting a computer device. A computer simply placed onto the tabletop of a conventional table can easily fall from the tabletop, potentially damaging the computer and/or injuring the computer user.

OBJECTS AND ADVANTAGES OF THE INVENTION

[0011] The present invention relates generally to tables and, more specifically, it relates to a modular tube and table retrofitable to a wheelchair. Such a device which secures an electronic or computer device can function as a device for personal training, entertainment, rehabilitation, etc. The table may also function as a dinner tray or a document support for reading, etc. Such a modular table can be used by wheelchair individuals in schools, hotels, businesses, meeting rooms, homes, nursing homes, manufacturing environments, hospitals, etc. The modular table in tandem with a computer device can provide videoconferencing, faxing, and/or general business access. The product can allow users to listen to compact discs, view DVD movies, play games, check and send e-mail, and browse the internet from multiple viewing positions. As with many computer devices, wireless connectivity also exists for connection to the Internet or communication within a business environment (e.g., medical information tracking and billing). In doing so, the product can function as a portal of communication between the user and the outside world from the confines of a hospital bed or wheelchair, or between the user and healthcare professional if special needs exist.

[0012] The design allows the wheelchair to be fully mobile during use of the table. This invention provides the opportunity for an electronic display or computer device to be positioned onto a wheelchair footrest that moves in unison with the wheelchair. The invention allows documents (either physically on the tabletop or existing digitally within the low-profile electronic display or computer device) to be read and signed. All of this can occur, while providing a fully-functional computer device with enhanced communications and entertainment capabilities, as well as a comfortable, adjustable viewing angle for the computer user. When not in use with the computer, this modular table can normally serve as an eating or reading table.

[0013] In these respects, a modular tube and table retrofitable to a wheelchair according to the present invention substantially departs from the conventional concepts and designs of the prior art, and in doing so provides an apparatus developed for the purpose of computer-assisted living, computer-assisted communication, rehabilitation, business and/or entertainment.

[0014] In view of the foregoing disadvantages inherent in the known types of tables now present in the prior art, the present invention provides a new modular tube and table retrofitable to a wheelchair in a design and construction wherein the same can be utilized for computer-assisted living. The present invention provides a modular table that overcomes the shortcomings of the prior art devices.

[0015] The general purpose of the present invention, which will be described subsequently in greater detail, is to provide a new modular table that has many of the advantages of the tables mentioned heretofore and many novel features that result in a new modular table that can attach to a wheelchair which is not anticipated, rendered obvious, suggested, or even implied by any prior art, either alone or in any combination thereof.

[0016] The term "electronic device" in this document describes a tablet PC (either convertible or slate), portable laptop/notebook computer, Personal Data Assistant (PDA), gaming console, cellular phone, flat panel television, flat panel monitor, a remote display, a flexible display or other small-profile, microprocessor-controlled device.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0017] A specific embodiment of the present invention provides a table which is supported by an adjustable upright structure and a base tube which supports the upright structure. The base tube is easily retrofitable to the footrest of most wheelchairs. More specifically, the tabletop of the modular table is comprised of aluminum, steel or plastic materials. The rigid tabletop surface is typically in a horizontal position, but can be rotated fore and aft to meet the computer user's preference and comfort. The tabletop can also have "top-hat" brackets and contain a sheet of thermoplastic material mounted above the top-hat bracket. The bent upright structure which supports the table is adjustable in height. The upright structure can be physically locked to the tabletop assembly and mounts into the base tube. The base tube mounts to the footrest of a wheelchair in a retrofitable fashion.

[0018] Common manufactured wheelchairs contain similar design methodologies to support the wheelchair footrests. The elements described in this document utilize this standard footrest support means in a fashion not previously conceived to secure the modular tube and table to a wheelchair. The novelty in the design also lies in its simple retrofit assembly--no welding is necessary to provide a robust mounting to the wheelchair.

[0019] In this respect, before explaining at least one embodiment of the invention in detail, it is to be understood that the invention is not limited in its application to the details of construction and to the arrangements of the components set forth in the following description or illustrated in the drawings. The invention is capable of other embodiments and of being practiced and carried out in various ways.

[0020] It is to be understood that the phraseology and terminology employed herein are for the purpose of the description and should not be regarded as limiting. Other objects and advantages of the present invention will become obvious to the reader and it is intended that these objects and advantages are within the scope of the present invention.

[0021] To the accomplishment of the above and related objects, this invention may be embodied in the form illustrated in the accompanying drawings, attention being called to the fact, however, that the drawings are illustrative only, and that changes may be made in the specific construction illustrated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0022] Various other objects, features and attendant advantages of the present invention will become fully appreciated as the same becomes better understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like reference characters designate the same or similar parts throughout the several views, and wherein:

[0023] FIG. 1 is an isometric view of the preferred embodiment fully-assembled.

[0024] FIG. 2 is an isometric view of the tabletop assembly.

[0025] FIG. 3 is an isometric view of the adjustable support assembly.

[0026] FIG. 4 is an isometric view of the mounting tube.

[0027] FIG. 5 is an exploded isometric view of the preferred embodiment installed onto the footrest of a wheelchair.

[0028] FIG. 6 is an isometric view of the preferred embodiment installed onto the footrest of a wheelchair.

[0029] FIG. 7 is a close-up isometric view of the mounting tube and footrest assembled to a wheelchair.

[0030] FIG. 8 is an isometric view of the mounting tube and footrest assembled to a wheelchair.

[0031] FIG. 9 is an isometric view of the preferred embodiment assembled to a wheelchair

[0032] FIG. 10 is a rear isometric view of the preferred embodiment.

[0033] FIG. 11 is an exploded isometric view of the preferred embodiment.

[0034] FIG. 12 is an isometric view of an IV support tube installed into the modular mounting tube.

[0035] FIG. 13 is an exploded isometric view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly.

[0036] FIG. 14 is an exploded isometric view of the upper support assembly.

[0037] FIG. 15 is an exploded isometric view of the lower support assembly.

[0038] FIG. 16 is an exploded isometric view of the standard inner mounting clamp assembled to the short clamping tube and the wheelchair frame.

[0039] FIG. 17 is an exploded isometric view of the standard outer mounting clamp assembled to the short clamping tube and lower support assembly.

[0040] FIG. 18 is an isometric view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair frame.

[0041] FIG. 19 is an isometric view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair.

[0042] FIG. 20 is an isometric view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair and oriented 180 degrees.

[0043] FIG. 21 is a top view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair and oriented 180 degrees.

[0044] FIG. 22 is an isometric view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair and oriented 270 degrees.

[0045] FIG. 23 is a top view of the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly assembled to the wheelchair and oriented 270 degrees.

[0046] FIG. 24 is an exploded isometric view of the optional control panel box.

[0047] FIG. 25 is an isometric view of the optional control panel box.

[0048] FIG. 26 is an isometric view of the optional control panel box positioned above the tabletop assembly.

[0049] FIG. 27 is an isometric view of the optional control panel box assembled into the tabletop assembly.

[0050] FIG. 28 is an isometric view of the optional control panel box assembled into the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly, which is assembled to the wheelchair frame.

[0051] FIG. 29 is an isometric view of the optional control panel box assembled into the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly, subsequently assembled to the wheelchair.

[0052] FIG. 30 is a view of the optional control panel box assembled into the alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly, subsequently assembled to the wheelchair for use with a corresponding gaming console and TV/monitor.

[0053] FIG. 31 is an isometric view of the thermal management embodiment with optional top-hat brackets assembled into the tabletop assembly with computer above.

[0054] FIG. 32 illustrates another thermal management embodiment wherein a top panel is provided, in order to protect an enclosed electronic device.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

[0055] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar referenced characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate the modular tube and table retrofitable to a wheelchair.

[0056] The design is comprised of three main elements shown in FIGS. 1 thru 11:

[0057] 1) tabletop assembly 1

[0058] 2) adjustable support assembly 2

[0059] 3) mounting tube 3

[0060] The preferred embodiment contains:

[0061] 1) The tabletop assembly 1 depicted in FIG. 2 which is comprised of: [0062] tabletop enclosure 4 [0063] "half-moon" mounting bracket 5 [0064] mounting bracket 6 [0065] optional top-hat brackets 7 [0066] optional top horizontal panel 8

[0067] The tabletop enclosure 4 is preferably made of metal or plastic, which a) has recesses 24, b) a bottom panel 25 (for mounting items such as a portable computer, book, or food plate) and c) is contoured 26 at the front and rear (to provide ergonomic support to the user).

[0068] The "half-moon" mounting bracket 5 is preferably made of metal or plastic, which has a) a bend at an angle 27, b) a flat surface 28 for mounting to the bottom of the tabletop enclosure 4 c) a cutout at its center 29 for mounting to the tube 10 from the adjustable support assembly 2, and d) holes 30 spaced evenly along an arc 30 to engage the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11 from the adjustable support assembly 2--for tilting the table.

[0069] The mounting bracket 6 is preferably made of metal or plastic that a) has bent or curved surfaces 31 (for mounting to the tube 10 from the adjustable support assembly 2) and b) flat surfaces 32 to mount to the bottom side of the bottom panel 25 from the tabletop enclosure 4.

[0070] A plurality of optional top-hat brackets 7 are preferably made of metal or plastic, which a) are bent at a plurality of angles 33, b) have a flat surface 34 to mount to the top of the bottom panel 25 from the tabletop enclosure 4, and c) contain holes at the top-surface 35 (to facilitate airflow for cooling of electronic equipment).

[0071] The optional top horizontal panel 8 can be made of plastic, wood, rubber or thermoplastic elastomer which a) is flat, b) is of such size to fit within the recess of the tabletop enclosure 4, and c) has a circular cutout 36 for receiving a cup or other container which contains a beverage.

[0072] The items listed above can be attached to one another with pressure-sensitive adhesive (i.e. PSA), Velcro.RTM., welds, screws, nuts, self-clinching screws, self-clinching nuts, double-sided tape, rivets, or with any known prior art mounting techniques.

[0073] 2) The adjustable support assembly 2 depicted in FIGS. 3,10 and 11 which is comprised of: [0074] bent upright tube 9 [0075] horizontal tube 10 [0076] retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11 [0077] "leaf spring style" push-button 12 [0078] standard push-button 23

[0079] The adjustable support assembly 2, comprised of four main components, a) supports the underside of the tabletop assembly 1 and b) telescopes inside of the mounting tube 3 for vertical height adjustment.

[0080] The bent upright tube 9, preferably made of metal or plastic, a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube, b) is generally vertical at the bottom 37, c) is bent at an acute angle upward 38 (to space the tabletop assembly 1 away from the wheelchair user for optimal comfort), d) contains threaded or thru holes 39 for mounting the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11, and e) contains holes 40 for a "leaf spring style" push-button 12 (or for use with a spring-loaded plunger--not shown).

[0081] The horizontal tube 10, preferably made of metal or plastic, a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube, a) is positioned roughly orthogonal to the bent upright tube 9, and b) contains a hole 41 for a standard push button 23 (or for use with a spring-loaded ball plunger--not shown).

[0082] A retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11, typically of metal construction, a) is threaded into a tapped hole 39 in the bent upright tube 9, b) has a spring-loaded tip which engages into the holes 30 from the "half-moon" mounting bracket 5 when fully extended, and c) has a knob 100 for retracting the spring-loaded tip 42.

[0083] When the knob 100 from the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11 is pulled, the tip of the plunger 42 dis-engages from the holes 30 in the "half-moon" mounting bracket 5, allowing the tabletop assembly 1 to rotate about the horizontal tube 10. This provides the wheelchair user multiple desired viewing, working, and reading angles.

[0084] The "leaf spring style" push-button 12 and the standard push button 23, of standard construction, are mounted inside of the adjustable support assembly 2. The "leaf spring style" push-button 12 is located inside the bent upright tube 9 at the bottom 43 for retaining the bent upright tube 9 inside of the mounting tube 3. The other standard push-button 23 is located inside the horizontal tube 10 at the end 44 for retaining the tabletop assembly 1 onto the horizontal tube 10.

[0085] The "leaf spring style" push-button 12 inside of the bent upright tube 9 has two buttons, one top 45 and one bottom 46, inside of the two holes 40 from and aligned parallel to the axis of the bent upright tube 9. In a default position, the bottom button 46 contacts one of the holes 50 in mounting tube 3 and, therefore, locks the bent upright tube 9 in place. Pushing the top button 45 inward causes the bottom button 46 to move inward, since the two buttons 45,46 are connected via a leaf spring 47. Once the bottom button 46 is no longer retained inside a hole 50 of the mounting tube 3, the bent upright tube 9 can move vertically and swivel about the axis of the mounting tube 3.

[0086] The standard push-button 23 inside of the horizontal tube 10 has one button 101 inside of the hole 41 from the horizontal tube 10. In a default position, the button 101 protrudes beyond the exterior surface of the horizontal tube 10. In this configuration, the protruding button 101 prevents the mounting bracket 6 from sliding off of the horizontal tube 10, thereby securing the associated tabletop assembly 1. Pushing the button 101 inward allows the mounting bracket 6 and associated tabletop assembly 1 to slide off the horizontal tube 10, thus allowing the product to be disassembled.

[0087] For aesthetic purposes, an endcap (not shown) may be inserted into either end 43,49 of the bent upright tube 9 or into the end 44 of the horizontal tube 10.

[0088] 3) The mounting tube 3 depicted in FIG. 4 which is comprised of: [0089] vertical tube 13 [0090] top bracket 14 [0091] bottom horizontal bracket 15

[0092] The vertical tube 13, is preferably made of metal, a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube, and b) contains a plurality of holes 50 to secure the bottom pin 46 from the "leaf spring style" push-button 12 and the corresponding mated bent upright tube 9.

[0093] The top bracket 14, is preferably made of a metal plate, a) is bent at an angle 51 to clear the top 52 of the wheelchair footrest 18, b) contains a standard or countersunk clearance hole 53, and c) is welded 54 to the vertical tube 13.

[0094] The bottom horizontal bracket 15, is preferably made of a metal plate, a) contains a clearance hole 55 for mounting to a wheelchair footrest pin 21 (shown in FIG. 7) and b) is welded 56 to the vertical tube 13.

[0095] Preferably, the three components of the mounting tube 3 listed above are welded to one another at the manufacturing facility prior to customer shipment. The length and orientation of the components are pre-defined for each wheelchair footrest style. Because of the typical spacing between footrest mounting plates on various wheelchairs, the length of the vertical tube 13 would be modified to allow the product to function with the several industry-standard footrest designs.

[0096] 4) Assembly of the new footrest sub-assembly 19 in FIGS. 5 and 6

[0097] The following items are required for the mounting tube 3 to be easily assembled onto a standard wheelchair footrest 18: [0098] footrest tube connector insert 16 [0099] screw or bolt fastener 17

[0100] The footrest tube connector insert 16 (of standard construction) is first installed into the end 57 of the standard 7/8'' outer diameter, hollow, round tube 58 from a wheelchair footrest 18. The second step is to position the mounting tube 3 into place such that the top bracket 14 is flush to the footrest connector 16. Next, attach the bolt or screw fastener 17 (preferably with a flathead) through the hole 59 in the top bracket 14 to the footrest tube connector insert 16 already located inside the footrest tube.

[0101] 5) Assembly of the new footrest sub-assembly 19 to wheelchair 20 in FIGS. 7 thru 9

[0102] The assembly of the footrest sub-assembly 19 to the wheelchair 20 is made in two simple steps. The hole from the bottom horizontal bracket 15 slides over the bottom footrest support pin 21 from the wheelchair 20. The top footrest support pin 22 from the wheelchair captivates the top 52 of the footrest sub-assembly 19, subsequently rigidifying the mounting tube 3 to the wheelchair.

[0103] Therefore, the tabletop assembly 1, adjustable support assembly 2, and mounting tube 3 described above can be retrofit by a customer to a wheelchair 20 without drilling or welding. The customer can receive these three components 1, 2, 3 individually-wrapped. The customer's first step would be to sub-assemble the tabletop assembly 1 onto the adjustable support assembly 2. The second step would be to secure the mounting tube 3 onto the wheelchair. The final assembly step would be to install the tabletop assembly 1 with attached adjustable support assembly 2 into the mounting tube 3.

DESCRIPTION OF THERMAL MANAGEMENT EMBODIMENTS

[0104] Thermal management of a computer 140 is achieved by natural means of convection inherent in the table design. See FIG. 31. Efficient cooling of the device can therefore be achieved without any exterior forms of power. A typical electronic device is designed to draw its heat to the bottom of the unit. The bottom surface of a computer 140 can mount directly to the top 60 of the optional top-hat brackets 7. The tabletop has open recesses 24. Any heat that is generated by an electronic device naturally propagates between the top-hat brackets 7 and to the open recesses 24 of the tabletop 1. The top-hat brackets 7 also contains holes 35 at the top surface to draw heat away from an electronic device. The top-hat brackets 7 and tabletop enclosure 1, if metal, also provide a thermodynamic heat-sink to facilitate cooling of the electronics.

[0105] FIG. 32 illustrates another thermal management embodiment which is very similar to that which is shown in FIG. 31, except in FIG. 32, a top panel 8 is included and covers the computer device 140. Preferably, the top panel is made of a transparent plastic or glass and covers the computer device 140, thereby acting as a water-resistant or tamper-resistant surface which protects the enclosed electronic device 140.

DESCRIPTION OF EMBODIMENT FOR MODULAR TUBE AND LONG VERTICAL TUBE RETROFITABLE TO A WHEELCHAIR TO SUPPORT AN INTRAVENOUS BAG

[0106] Mounting tube 3 can also be used to support a long vertical tube 61 for an intravenous (IV) bag to create a new embodiment, as shown in FIG. 12. In this embodiment, both the tabletop assembly 1 and upright support assembly 2 are removed and replaced with a long vertical tube 61. The vertical tube 61 contains a generally horizontal rod 62 at the top end 63 as a means to support an IV bag.

EMBODIMENT DESCRIPTION CONCLUSION

[0107] The design depicted in this document is specifically geared to be retrofitable to most manufactured wheelchairs, but one skilled in the art can modify this design to work in other applications as well. For example, the mounting tube 3 can be retrofit onto a bed frame (for hospital or home usage), onto a table (for restaurant usage, etc.) or onto a seat (for usage at an airport/bus terminal, etc.).

[0108] Note that the design described in this document is meant to be mounted onto the footrest located on the left side of the wheelchair. One skilled in the art can easily modify this design to mount onto the right side of the wheelchair as well.

[0109] The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly, all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention.

[0110] For example, while many of the components are described as being metal with welds, it is possible to provide that the components are instead made of plastic. Additionally, different methods other than push buttons can be used to facilitate connection of the adjustable support assembly 2 to the tabletop assembly 1 and the mounting tube 3. Many, many other variations are fully possible while staying within the scope of the present invention.

DESCRIPTION OF ALTERNATIVE EMBODIMENT FOR MOUNTING THE TABLETOP ASSEMBLY

[0111] Turning now descriptively to the drawings, in which similar referenced characters denote similar elements throughout the several views, the attached figures illustrate an alternate means of mounting the tabletop assembly 110.

[0112] The design 110 is comprised of six main elements shown in FIGS. 13 thru 23:

[0113] 1) tabletop assembly 1

[0114] 2) upper support assembly 64

[0115] 3) lower support assembly 65

[0116] 4) standard inner mounting clamp 66

[0117] 5) short clamping tube 67

[0118] 6) standard outer mounting clamp 79

[0119] The alternative embodiment for mounting the tabletop assembly 110 contains:

[0120] 1) The tabletop assembly 1, as previously described and depicted in FIG. 2.

[0121] 2) The upper support assembly 64, depicted in FIGS. 13 and 14, which is comprised of: [0122] short vertical tube 68 [0123] horizontal tube 69 [0124] retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11 [0125] tube collar 70 [0126] standard push-button 23

[0127] The upper support assembly 64, comprised of five main components, a) supports the underside of the tabletop assembly 1, b) telescopes inside of the lower support assembly 65 for vertical height adjustment and c) rotates inside of the lower support assembly 65 to allow the tabletop assembly 1 to be oriented away from the wheelchair. Rotating the tabletop assembly 1 away from the front of the wheelchair allows an individual to enter and exit the wheelchair without difficulty--see additional FIGS. 20 to 23.

[0128] The short vertical tube 68, preferably made of metal, aluminum, fiberglass or plastic, a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube (as shown in FIG. 14), b) is generally vertical, c) contains a slot 71 (or thru holes, not shown) for accepting the front tip 78 of a retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76 from the lower support assembly 65 (see FIG. 15).

[0129] The horizontal tube 69, preferably made of metal, aluminum, fiberglass or plastic, a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube, b) is positioned roughly orthogonal to the short vertical tube 68, and c) contains a hole 72 for a standard push button 23, as depicted in FIG. 14 (or for use with a spring-loaded ball plunger--not shown).

[0130] A retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11, typically of metal construction, a) is threaded into a tapped hole 95 in the short vertical tube 68, b) has a spring-loaded tip 42 which engages into the holes 30 from the "half-moon" mounting bracket 5 from the tabletop assembly 1 when fully extended, and c) has a knob 100 for retracting the spring-loaded tip 42. See FIGS. 13 and 14.

[0131] When the knob 100 from the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 11 is pulled, the spring-loaded plunger tip 42 disengages from the holes 30 in the "half-moon" mounting bracket 5, allowing the tabletop assembly 1 to rotate about the horizontal tube 69. This provides the wheelchair user multiple desired viewing, working, and reading angles.

[0132] The tube collar 70, of standard constructon, as shown in FIG. 14, generally has a round shape with an inner hole 96 (circular inner hole shown, but can be other shapes based on the short vertical tube 68 shape) which allows the short vertical tube 68 to mount into the tube collar 70. The tube collar 70 also has a threaded hole 73 which allows a set screw 74 to tighten into it. After installation of the short vertical tube 68 into the tube collar 70, the set screw 74 can be tightened, thereby fastening the tube collar 70 onto the short vertical tube 68.

[0133] The standard push-button 23, of standard construction, is located inside the horizontal tube 69 at the end 97 for retaining the tabletop assembly 1 onto the horizontal tube 69.

[0134] The standard push-button 23 inside of the horizontal tube 69 has one button 101 inside of the hole 72 from the horizontal tube 69. In a default position, the button 101 protrudes beyond the exterior surface of the horizontal tube 69. In this configuration, the protruding button 101 prevents the mounting bracket 6 of the tabletop assembly 1 from sliding off of the horizontal tube 69, thereby securing the associated tabletop assembly 1. (See FIGS. 10 and 11 for detailed views of the tabletop assembly 1.) Pushing the button 101 inward allows the mounting bracket 6 and associated tabletop assembly 1 to slide off the horizontal tube 69, thus allowing the product to be disassembled.

[0135] 3) The lower support assembly 65 depicted in FIGS. 13 and 15 is comprised of: [0136] bent tube 75 [0137] retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76

[0138] The bent tube 75, preferably made of metal, aluminum, fiberglass or plastic a) is a section of rectangular, square or round tube (shown), b) contains a roughly 30 degree bend and c) contains a hole 77 to mount the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76. The retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76 can be attached to the bent tube 75 with welds, screws, nuts, self-clinching screws, self-clinching nuts, rivets, or with any known prior art mounting techniques.

[0139] The following paragraph describes the use and movement of the upper support assembly 64 relative to the lower support assembly 65. The short vertical tube 68 from the upper support assembly 64 is slid into the top end 92 of the bent tube 75 from the lower support assembly 65. The tube collar 70 fastened to the short vertical tube 68 from the upper support assembly 64 stops the upper support assembly 64 from dropping down into the lower support assembly 65. The upper support assembly 64 and corresponding tabletop assembly 1 can be raised or lowered relative to the lower support assembly 65 by unscrewing the set screw 74, adjusting the height of assemblies 1 and 64 accordingly, and tightening the set screw 74. To rotate the upper support assembly 64 and corresponding tabletop assembly 1 around the stationary lower support assembly 65 (and away from the corresponding wheelchair 20), simply pull the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76 from the lower support assembly 65; doing so will disengage the tip 78 of the spring-loaded plunger 76 from the slot 71 found on the short vertical tube 68, which will allow the upper support assembly 64 and tabletop assembly 1 to freely rotate.

[0140] For aesthetic purposes, an endcap (not shown) may be inserted into the bottom end of the short vertical tube 68 or the distal end of the horizontal tube 69.

[0141] 4) The standard inner mounting clamp 66, of standard construction, depicted in FIGS. 13, 16 and 17, preferably made of metal or aluminum, is comprised of: [0142] top clamp section 80 [0143] center clamp section 81 [0144] bottom clamp section 82 [0145] fasteners 83

[0146] The circular recesses 84 (can be square or rectangular, not shown, depending on the wheelchair frame 84 type) from the center clamp section 81 and bottom clamp section 82 of the standard inner mounting clamp 66 are positioned on either side of the wheelchair frame 85 and secured with fasteners 83. (See FIG. 17 for assembled standard inner mounting clamp 66.)

[0147] 5) The short clamping tube 67, depicted in FIGS. 13, 16 and 17 is preferably made of metal, aluminum, fiberglass or plastic, and is of square, rectangular or circular shape (depicted). The short clamping tube 67 attaches into the circular recesses 84 from the top clamp section 80 and the center clamp section 81 of the standard inner mounting clamp 66. Once the fasteners 83 are secured through clearance holes 98 in the top clamp section 80 and into threaded holes 86 in the center clamp section 81, the short clamping tube 67 is secured in place to the the standard inner mounting clamp 66.

[0148] 6) The standard outer mounting clamp 79, of standard construction, depicted in FIGS. 13 and 17, preferably made of metal or aluminum, is of the same design as the standard inner mounting clamp 66, and is comprised of: [0149] top clamp section 87 [0150] center clamp section 88 [0151] bottom clamp section 89 [0152] fasteners 90

[0153] The circular recesses 91 (can be square or rectangular, not shown, depending on the wheelchair frame 85 type) from the bottom clamp section 89 and center clamp section 88 of the standard outer mounting clamp 79 are positioned around the bent tube 75 from the lower support assembly 65. Once the fasteners 90 are secured through clearance holes 93 in the bottom clamp section 89 and into threaded holes 94 in the center clamp section 88, the bent tube 75 (and corresponding lower support assembly 65) is secured to the standard outer mounting clamp 79.

[0154] The tabletop assembly 1, upper support assembly 64, lower support assembly 65, standard inner mounting clamp 66, standard outer mounting clamp 79, and short clamping tube 67 described above can be retrofit by a customer to a wheelchair 20 without drilling or welding. The customer can receive these six components 1, 64, 65, 66, 67 and 79 individually-wrapped. The customer's first step would be to secure the standard inner mounting clamp 66 onto the wheelchair frame 85. The second step would be to secure the short clamping tube 67 into the standard inner mounting clamp 66. The third step would be to secure the standard outer mounting clamp 79 onto the short clamping tube 67. The fourth step would be to install the bent tube 75 from the lower support assembly 65 into the standard outer mounting clamp 79. Somewhere away from the wheelchair, the tabletop assembly 1 would be assembled onto the upper support assembly 64. The final assembly step would be to install the short vertical tube 68 from the upper support assembly 64 (which is already attached to the tabletop assembly 1) into the lower support assembly 65. Height adjustments of the tabletop 1 can be made two ways: 1) the set screw 74 from the tube collar 96 is loosened, which allows the tube collar 96 to be re-positioned up or down along the short vertical tube 68 from the upper support assembly 64 or 2) the fasteners 90 from the standard outer mounting clamp 79 are loosened, which allows the bent tube 75 from the lower support assembly 65 to be re-positioned up or down within the standard outer mounting clamp 79.

[0155] Novel uses of the design 110 are depicted in FIGS. 19 to 23. If the wheelchair occupant desires to move the tabletop assembly 1 away from the front of the wheelchair 20, the occupant simply pulls a handle on the retractable, spring-loaded plunger 76 and rotates the tabletop assembly 1 and attached upper support assembly 64 from the design 110 away from the wheelchair 20. FIGS. 20 and 21 depict the tabletop assembly 1 and upper support assembly 64 rotated 180 degrees (relative to the position shown in FIG. 19). FIGS. 22 and 23 depict the tabletop assembly 1 and upper support assembly 64 rotated nearly 270 degrees (relative to the position shown in FIG. 19) with the tabletop assembly 1 oriented nearly vertical. In the 270-degree orientation, the outermost left edge 130 of the tabletop assembly 1 only extends approximately 2 inches (5.08 centimeters) beyond the left wheel 131 of the wheelchair 20. The distance from the outermost left edge 130 of the tabletop assembly 1 to the outer most edge of the right wheel 132 of a typical 26 inch (66.04 centimeter) wide wheelchair would therefore be approximately 28 inches (71.12 centimeters)--as depicted in FIG. 23.

[0156] The two orientations (180-degree and 270-degree) of the tabletop assembly 1 and the upper support assembly 64 discussed above are practical for: 1) a caretaker/nurse who wishes to perform a "lateral transfer" or "pivot transfer" of a patient into or out of the wheelchair or 2) the wheelchair occupant to enter and exit the wheelchair using his/her own strength. In addition, the latter, compact, 270-degree orientation provides a very practical use for a wheelchair occupant who must travel from one room to another room in a home: the width of the wheelchair 20 with attached design 110 measures only approximately 28 inches (71.12 centimeters), thus allowing the wheelchair 20 with attached design 110 to pass through a standard 29 inch (73.66 centimeter) wide door frame opening. In FIG. 23, dimension A identifies the width of a standard wheelchair and is assumed to be 26 inches, and dimension B identifies the width increase associated with the attached design 110 and is preferably only about two inches.

DESCRIPTION OF CONTROL PANEL BOX EMBODIMENT (WHICH REPLACES THE OPTIONAL TOP HORIZONTAL PANEL)

[0157] In a separate embodiment, the optional top horizontal panel 8 can be replaced with an optional control panel box 111, depicted in FIGS. 24 to 30, which is comprised of: [0158] top horizontal control panel 116 [0159] bottom horizontal control panel 127 [0160] support members 121 [0161] standard electronic pushbutton switch(es) 113 [0162] optional standard electro-mechanical joystick 114 [0163] optional standard electro-mechanical trackball 115 [0164] joystick and trackball fasteners (screws 119 and nuts 130)

[0165] The bottom horizontal control panel 127 made of plastic, metal, or wood which a) has a flat top, b) is solid or has a hollow core, c) is of such size to fit within the recesses 24 of the tabletop enclosure 4, and d) has multiple cutouts 112 for receiving electronic components such as standard electronic pushbutton switches 113, a standard electro-mechanical joystick 114, and e) an optional square or rectangular cutout 117 to contour around the standard electro-mechanical trackball 115.

[0166] A top horizontal control panel 116, made of plastic, metal or wood which a) has a flat top, b) is solid or has a hollow core, c) is of such size to fit within the recesses 24 of the tabletop enclosure 4, d) has multiple cutouts 112 and e) an optional larger circular cutout 129 to contour around the ball 128 from a standard electro-mechanical trackball 115.

[0167] The top horizontal control panel 116 is positioned above the bottom horizontal control panel 127. The top horizontal control panel 116 has multiple clearance holes 118 to receive screws 119 which mount through holes 120 in the joystick 114 and trackball 115; the screws are secured to corresponding nuts 130 which mount from underneath the joystick 114 and trackball 115.

[0168] The standard electronic pushbutton switches 113 are positioned into the multiple cutouts 112 of the top horizontal control panel 116 and bottom horizontal control panel 127. The nuts 131 from the standard electronic pushbutton switches 113 are then fastened to the bottom of the standard electronic pushbutton switches 113, thus securing the standard electronic pushbutton switches 113 to the top horizontal control panel 116 and bottom horizontal control panel 127.

[0169] Two support members 121, made of plastic, metal or wood are attached to the bottom side of the top horizontal control panel 116 with pressure-sensitive adhesive, Velcro.RTM. (a.k.a. hook and loop), welds, screws, nuts, self-clinching screws, self-clinching nuts, double-sided tape, rivets, or with any known prior art mounting techniques. The support members 121 provide the space needed to keep the electro-mechanical devices 113, 114 and 115 from touching the tabletop enclosure 4 from the tabletop assembly 1.

[0170] As depicted in FIGS. 26 and 27, the optional control panel box 111 is placed into the tabletop enclosure 4 from the tabletop assembly 1 to form the assembly shown in FIG. 27. This assembly is subsequently attached to the alternate means of mounting the tabletop assembly 110, as depicted in FIG. 28. FIG. 29 depicts the optional control panel box 111 assembled into the alternate means of mounting the tabletop assembly 110, and subsequently attached to the wheelchair 20.

[0171] Note that the wiring/cables for the standard electronic pushbutton switches 113, standard electro-mechanical joystick 114 or standard electro-mechanical trackball 115 which are typically attached at the underside of each electro-mechanical device, are not shown in FIGS. 24 to 29. The optional control panel box 111 can house wireless electronic transmitters or other electrical device internally to transfer the input signals from the standard electronic pushbutton switches 113, standard electro-mechanical joystick 114 or standard electro-mechanical trackball 115 to external electronics. Such a system can control electronic devices on the wheelchair or remotely in the home.

[0172] One example of a practical application for the optional control panel box 111 with corresponding hardware 113, 114 and 115 would be as an ergonomic, easy-to-access, disability-friendly device to replace the typically small, handheld control pads used on Xbox.RTM. or Playstation.RTM.-type video game consoles. FIG. 30 depicts such an application, whereby a television/monitor 122 is connected to a gaming console 123 via a control cable 124 and the gaming console 123 is connected to the optional control box 111 via a second control cable 125. In this application, an additional hole 126 is required in the support member 121 from the optional control panel box 111 to allow the control cable 125 to connect to the electronic 113 and electro-mechanical devices 114, 115 in the control panel box 111. While a gaming console is specifically shown in FIG. 30, the control panel 111 can be configured to communicate with another type of electronic device, such as a personal computer, a laptop computer, a tablet PC or any other electronic device.

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Adjustable Bed
Air Curtain
Air Purifier
Auto Lift
Badge Holder
Balance
Blinds
Blister Packaging
Cable Lock
Cable Ties
Carpet
Caster Wheel
CCtv Camera
Cell Phone
Computer Desk
Computer Rack
Conference System
Conference Table
Copier
Counterfeit Detector
Credit Card
Dental Care
Desiccant
Digital Video Recorder
Domain Names
Dome Camera
Double Sided Tape
Electric Hoist
Electric Wheel Chair
Ethernet Switch
Exit Sign
Fire Extinguisher
First Aid Kit
Flow Meter
Forklift Truck
Garden Light
Garden Umbrella
Geogrid
Glue Gun
Hair Treatment
Hand Dryer
Health Care
Hearing Aid
Heat Shrink Tube
Infrared Camera
Infrared Thermometer
Ink
Ink Refill
Inkjet Cartridge
Insurance
Investment Casting
Juice
Juice Extractor
Kitchen Faucet
Laminate Flooring
Lanyard
Laptop
Laser Engraving Machine
Latex Gloves
LED Display
Linear Bearing
Massage Chair
Massage Table
Mattress
Mattress Pad
Mechanical Balance
Memory Foam Pillow
Microscope Camera
Mini Flashlight
Modem Card
Nitrogen Generator
Office Chair
Office Furniture
Pallet
Paper Shredder
Patch Cord
PCB
Personal Care
Photo Paper
Portable Vacuum Cleaner
Power Cord
Powered Wheelchair
Printed Circuit Board
Printed Tape
Printer Ribbon
Printing Machine
Projector
Radiant Heat
Radiant Heating
Rechargeable Flashlight
Rewinding Machine
Roll Label
Safety Vest
Security Door
Self-adhesive Label
Shopping Cart
Skin Care Product
Skin Cream
Spiral Staircase
Stereo Microscope
Storage Box
Storage Racks
Temperature Controller
Terminal Blocks
Thermocouple
Toner Cartridge
Towel Dispenser
Treadmill
Venetian Blind
VoIP Phone
Walkie Talkie
Water Filter
Wheel Chair
Wheelchair
Wire Shelving
Wood Flooring
Wristbands
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