Us Patent Ideas

Wheelchair Patent Ideas Search

Wheelchair occupant restraint system

Abstract
A wheelchair occupant restraint system may include a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, and a first web securing the frame to the seat. Alternatively or additionally, a second tether may secure a shoulder belt support to a support surface remote from the wheelchair, wherein the shoulder belt support is mounted to a seat back of the wheelchair. Alternatively or additionally, an occupant restraint system, which may have some components mounted to or integral with the wheelchair and others not mounted to or integral with the wheelchair, may include one or more restraint webs that have at least one indicator identifying respective portions of the one or more restraint webs that connect together.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Inventors: Acton, Aaron; (Whitestown, IN)
Correspondence Name and Address: BARNES & THORNBURG
11 SOUTH MERIDIAN
INDIANAPOLIS
IN
46204


Serial No.: 074564
Series Code: 11
Filed: March 8, 2005

U.S. Current Class: 410/3; 280/801.1
U.S. Class at Publication: 410/003; 280/801.1
Intern'l Class: B61D 003/18

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Claims

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

What is claimed is:

1. A wheelchair occupant restraint system comprising: a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, and a first web securing the frame to the seat.

2. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 1 further including: a lap web having one end secured a lap web anchorage mechanism that is attached to the seat and an opposite free end secured to a first lap web connector configured for releasable engagement with a second lap web connector, and a frame anchorage mechanism secured to the frame, wherein the first web is secured between the lap web anchorage mechanism and the frame anchorage mechanism.

3. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 2 further including releasable connectors attached to opposite ends of the first web and configured for releasable connection with each other.

4. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 3 further including a web length adjusting device for removing slack from, and introducing slack to, the first web.

5. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 3 wherein the first web is looped around the lab web anchorage mechanism and the frame anchorage mechanism, the releasable connectors thereafter connected to each other to secure the lap web anchorage mechanism to the frame anchorage mechanism.

6. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 5 further including a web length adjusting device for removing slack from, and introducing slack to, the first web.

7. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 1 further including: a lap web having one end secured a lap web anchorage mechanism that is attached to the seat and an opposite free end secured to a first lap web connector configured for releasable engagement with a second lap web connector, and a web retractor secured to the frame and having one end of the first web attached thereto, wherein a second end of the first web is secured to the lap web anchorage mechanism.

8. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 7 further including releasable connectors interposed on the first web between the retractor and the lap web anchorage mechanism, the releasable connectors configured for releasable engagement with each other.

9. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 1 further including a second web securing the frame to the seat.

10. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 2 wherein the frame anchorage mechanism is a docking structure configured for engagement with a receiving structure mounted to a support surface.

11. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 2 wherein the frame anchorage mechanism includes: a frame anchorage connector mounted to the wheelchair frame, and a second tether having one end connected to the frame anchorage connector and an opposite end anchored to a support surface.

12. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 2 wherein a support surface includes a first support surface anchor point secured to the frame anchorage mechanism and a second support surface anchorage point, and wherein the first tether is secured between the lap belt anchorage point and the second support surface anchorage point.

13. A wheelchair occupant restraint system comprising: a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, a back mounted to the frame, the seat and back configured to cooperatively support an occupant of the wheelchair, a shoulder belt support mounted to the back, and a web securing the shoulder belt support to a support surface remote from the wheelchair.

14. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 13 further including: a first web connector mounted to the shoulder belt support, and a second connector mounted to the support surface, wherein one end of the web is configured for releasable engagement with the first web connector, and an opposite end of the web is configured for engagement with the second tether connector.

15. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 13 wherein the second web connector includes a retractor mounted to the support surface, and wherein the opposite end of the web is connected to the retractor, the one end of the web extending from the retractor.

16. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 13 wherein the first web connector is mounted to a rearwardly facing surface of the shoulder belt support mechanism so that the web restrains motion of the wheelchair back in a forward direction.

17. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 13 wherein the first web connector is mounted to a forwardly facing surface of the shoulder belt support mechanism so that the web restrains motion of the wheelchair back in a rearward direction.

18. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 13 wherein the support surface is a wall of a motor vehicle.

19. A wheelchair occupant restraint system, comprising: a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, a back mounted to the frame, the seat and back configured to cooperatively support a wheelchair occupant, and a restraint assembly including a shoulder web having one end extendable downwardly across the back toward the seat, a first connecting web having one end configured to be attached to the seat and another end configured for releasable engagement with the one end of the shoulder web, a lap web having one end extendable over the seat and a second connecting web having one end configured to be attached to the seat and another end configured for releasable engagement with the one end of the lab web, at least one of the should web and first connecting web and the lap web and second connecting web including at least one indicator identifying that the shoulder web connects to the first connecting web and the lap web connects to the second connecting web.

20. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 19 wherein the at least one indicator includes portions of the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web having web widths that are sized to indicate connection therebetween.

21. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 19 wherein the at least one indicator includes labels attached to portions of the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web, the labels configured to indicate connection between the corresponding webs.

22. The wheelchair occupant restraint system of claim 19 wherein the at least one indicator includes providing the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web with matching colors.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Description

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED U.S. PATENT APPLICATIONS

[0001] This patent application claims priority to and the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/551,189, filed Mar. 8, 2004, the disclosure of which is incorporated herein by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

[0002] The present invention relates generally to wheelchair restraint systems, and more specifically to wheelchair and wheelchair occupant restraint systems.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Conventional wheelchair tie-down occupant restraint systems are used in automotive and other applications for the purpose of securing the wheelchair to a support surface or surfaces. For use in motor vehicles, the design and performance of such wheelchair tie-down and occupant restraint systems are addressed in a Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) J2249 recommended practice standard entitled WHEELCHAIR TIEDOWN AND OCCUPANT RESTRAINT SYSTEM FOR USE IN MOTOR VEHICLES. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) have proposed an ANSI/RESNA standard section 19, and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has proposed an ISO 10542-1 standard, both for the purpose of promoting occupant safety and to reduce the risk of injury for motor-vehicle occupants who remain seated in their wheelchairs during transit, by suggesting improvements relating to the crashworthiness of wheelchairs that conform with their requirements. The SAE J2249, ANSI/RESNA section 19 and ISO 10542-1 standards are incorporated herein by reference.

SUMMARY

[0004] The present invention may comprise one or more of the features recited in the attached claims and the following features and combinations thereof. A wheelchair occupant restraint system comprises a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, and a first web securing the frame to the seat. A lap web may have one end secured a lap web anchorage mechanism that is attached to the seat and an opposite free end secured to a first lap web connector configured for releasable engagement with a second lap web connector. A frame anchorage mechanism may be secured to the frame. The first web may be secured between the lap web anchorage mechanism and the frame anchorage mechanism.

[0005] The system may further include releasable connectors attached to opposite ends of the first web and configured for releasable connection with each other. The system may further include a web length adjusting device for removing slack from, and introducing slack to, the first web. The first web may be looped around the lab web anchorage mechanism and the frame anchorage mechanism. The releasable connectors may be thereafter connected to each other to secure the lap web anchorage mechanism to the frame anchorage mechanism.

[0006] The system may further include a lap web having one end secured a lap web anchorage mechanism that is attached to the seat and an opposite free end secured to a first lap web connector configured for releasable engagement with a second lap web connector. A web retractor may be secured to the frame. One end of the first web may be attached to the web retractor. A second end of the first web may be secured to the lap web anchorage mechanism. The system may further include releasable connectors interposed on the first web between the retractor and the lap web anchorage mechanism. The releasable connectors may be configured for releasable engagement with each other.

[0007] The system may further include a second web securing the frame to the seat.

[0008] The frame anchorage mechanism may be a docking structure configured for engagement with a receiving structure mounted to a support surface. Alternatively, the frame anchorage mechanism may include a frame anchorage connector mounted to the wheelchair frame, and a second tether having one end connected to the frame anchorage connector and an opposite end anchored to a support surface.

[0009] A support surface may include a first support surface anchor point secured to the frame anchorage mechanism and a second support surface anchorage point. The first tether may be secured between the lap belt anchorage point and the second support surface anchorage point.

[0010] A wheelchair occupant restraint system may comprise a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, a back mounted to the frame, wherein the seat and back are configured to cooperatively support an occupant of the wheelchair, a shoulder belt support mounted to the back, and a web securing the shoulder belt support to a support surface remote from the wheelchair. The support surface may be a wall of a motor vehicle.

[0011] The system may further include a first web connector mounted to the shoulder belt support, and a second connector mounted to the support surface. One end of the web may be configured for releasable engagement with the first web connector. An opposite end of the web may be configured for engagement with the second tether connector. The second web connector may include a retractor mounted to the support surface. The opposite end of the web may be connected to the retractor with the one end of the web extending from the retractor.

[0012] The first web connector may be mounted to a rearwardly facing surface of the shoulder belt support mechanism so that the web restrains motion of the wheelchair back in a forward direction. Alternatively, the first web connector may be mounted to a forwardly facing surface of the shoulder belt support mechanism so that the web restrains motion of the wheelchair back in a rearward direction.

[0013] A wheelchair occupant restraint system may comprise a wheelchair having a frame supporting a number of wheels, a seat mounted to the frame, a back mounted to the frame, wherein the seat and back are configured to cooperatively support a wheelchair occupant, and a restraint assembly. The restraint assembly may include a shoulder web having one end extendable downwardly across the back toward the seat, a first connecting web having one end configured to be attached to the seat and another end configured for releasable engagement with the one end of the shoulder web, a lap web having one end extendable over the seat and a second connecting web having one end configured to be attached to the seat and another end configured for releasable engagement with the one end of the lab web. The shoulder web and the first connecting web and/or the lap web and the second connecting web may include at least one indicator identifying that the shoulder web connects to the first connecting web and the lap web connects to the second connecting web.

[0014] The at least one indicator may include portions of the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web having web widths that are sized to indicate connection therebetween. Alternatively or additionally, the at least one indicator may include labels attached to portions of the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web, wherein the labels configured to indicate connection between the corresponding webs. Alternatively or additionally, the at least one indicator may include providing the shoulder web and first connecting web or the lap web and second connecting web with matching colors.

[0015] These and other features of the present invention will become more apparent from the following description of the illustrative embodiments.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0016] FIG. 1A is a side elevational view of one illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing the wheelchair frame to the existing occupant restraint harness.

[0017] FIG. 1B is a side elevational view of another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing the wheelchair frame to the existing occupant restraint harness.

[0018] FIG. 1C is a side elevational view of yet another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing the wheelchair frame to the existing occupant restraint harness.

[0019] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of the wheelchair occupant restraint systems of FIGS. 1A-1C.

[0020] FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing the wheelchair frame to the existing occupant restraint harness.

[0021] FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of yet another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing the existing occupant restraint harness to a support structure to which the frame of the wheelchair is secured.

[0022] FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of still another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing a portion of the wheelchair back near an existing occupant restraint harness attachment point to a support structure.

[0023] FIG. 6 is a side elevational view of a further illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system including an auxiliary web securing a portion of the wheelchair back near an existing occupant restraint harness attachment point to a support structure.

[0024] FIG. 7 is a plan view of connecting ends of a shoulder web and corresponding connecting web, and of a lap web and corresponding connecting web, illustrating one embodiment for identifying the ends of the various webs that are configured for connection with each other.

[0025] FIG. 8 is a plan view of connecting ends of a shoulder web and corresponding connecting web, and of a lap web and corresponding connecting web, illustrating another embodiment for identifying the ends of the various webs that are configured for connection with each other.

[0026] FIG. 9 is a plan view of connecting ends of a shoulder web and corresponding connecting web, and of a lap web and corresponding connecting web, illustrating yet another embodiment for identifying the ends of the various webs that are configured for connection with each other.

DESCRIPTION OF THE ILLUSTRATIVE EMBODIMENTS

[0027] For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to a number of illustrative embodiments illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same.

[0028] Referring to FIGS. 1A and 2, side elevational and top plan views respectively of one illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10 is shown. In the illustrated embodiment, a conventional wheelchair 12 includes a frame 14 that supports a set of back wheels 16A and 16B and a pair of front wheels 18A and 18B (illustrated generally as 16 and 18 in FIG. 1A). A seat 20 is mounted to the wheelchair frame 14 and is configured to support a wheelchair occupant 15 in a conventional manner as shown in FIGS. 1A and 2. In the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 2, a docking structure 22, in the form of a docking bar or frame, is mounted to the frame 14 of the wheelchair 12 between the rear wheels 16A and 16B. The docking structure 22 is configured for engagement with a complementarily configured receiving structure mounted to the support surface 24 supporting the wheelchair 12 and occupant 15. The docking structure 22 thus forms a frame anchorage mechanism that is secured to the frame 14 and configured to anchor the frame to the support structure 24. In one embodiment, the support surface 24 is a floor of a motor vehicle, although for purposes of the restraint system 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 2, the support surface 24 may be any support surface.

[0029] The wheelchair occupant restraint system 10 includes a conventional lap restraint belt or web 26 that is, in the embodiment illustrated in FIGS. 1A and 2, integral with the wheelchair 14. The lap restraint web 26, in one embodiment, comprises a pair of lap restraint webs 26A and 26B, each having one end secured to the seat 20 at a lap web anchorage point and each having a free end configured for releasable engagement with each other as illustrated in FIG. 2. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 2, a conventional buckle and tongue arrangement 36 is attached to the free ends of the lap webs 26A and 26B, and the lap webs 26A and 26B may be releasably engaged with each other via the buckle and tongue arrangement in a known manner. Referring again to FIG. 1A, a lap web anchorage 28 is affixed to the seat 20 in a conventional manner, and one end of the lap web, indicated generally as 26, is secured to the web anchorage 28 in a conventional manner. The opposite side of the seat 20 includes another lap web anchorage 28 (not shown) affixed thereto, and one end of the other lap web (e.g., web 26B) is affixed thereto in a conventional manner.

[0030] The wheelchair occupant restraint system 10 further includes at least one auxiliary web or tether 30 extending between the docking structure 22 and the lap web 26. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1A, the auxiliary web 30 is a single loop of web extending around the docking structure 22 and around the web anchorage 28. A conventional buckle 32A is attached to one end of the web 30, and a conventional tongue 32B is attached to the opposite end of the web 30. The buckle 32A and tongue 32B are configured for releasable engagement with each other in a conventional manner. Alternatively, other conventional engagement structures may be affixed to the free ends of the auxiliary web 30 for releasably securing the two ends of the auxiliary web 30 together. Although not specifically shown in FIG. 1A, any such engagement structure may include a web length adjuster for introducing slack into, or removing slack from, the auxiliary web 30. Alternatively, the web 30 may be sized to fit tightly about the docking structure 22 and web anchorage 28 when the two free ends of the web 30 are secured together. In any case, when the auxiliary web 30 is mounted to the wheelchair 12 as shown in FIG. 1A, the web 26 and web anchorage 28 are secured to the docking structure 22 so that the seat portion 20 of the wheelchair seating system is secured to the wheelchair frame 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the wheelchair 12 may include only a single auxiliary web 30 as shown in FIG. 1A, or may alternatively include two such auxiliary webs 30 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0031] Referring now to FIG. 1B, a side elevational view of another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10 is shown. The wheelchair occupant restraint system illustrated in FIG. 1B is identical in many respects to that illustrated in FIG. 1A, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like elements. In the illustrated embodiment, the web anchorage 28 of FIG. 1A is replaced with a web anchorage that comprises two anchorage members 28A and 28B. The lap web 26 is affixed to the anchorage member 28A in a conventional manner, and one end 30A of the auxiliary web 30 is likewise affixed to the anchorage member 28B. Alternatively, the web anchorage 28 may be as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and the free ends of the lap web 26 and the auxiliary web 30 may both be affixed to the web anchorage 28. In any case, another web anchorage 28C is affixed to the docking structure 22, and the opposite end 30B of the auxiliary web 30 is affixed to the web anchorage 28C in a conventional manner. Alternatively still, the auxiliary web 30 may be configured to loop around the web anchorage 28A, 28B as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and to attach at its free ends to the web anchorage 28C.

[0032] The auxiliary web 30 may be a single length of web as illustrated in FIG. 1B, or may alternatively comprise two lengths of web having conventional releasably engagable structures attached to their free ends. For example, as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 1B, one free end may be attached to a conventional buckle 32A and the opposite free end may be attached to a conventional tongue 32B, wherein the buckle 32A and tongue 32B are configured to be releasably engaged with each other. Alternatively, other conventional engagement structures may be affixed to the free ends of the two lengths of the auxiliary web 30 for releasably securing the two free ends together. Although not specifically shown in FIG. 1B, any such engagement structure may include a web length adjuster for introducing slack into, or removing slack from, the auxiliary web 30. Alternatively, the web 30 may be sized to fit tightly between the web anchorages 28B and 28C. In any case, when the auxiliary web 30 is mounted to the wheelchair 12 as shown in FIG. 1B, the web anchorage 28B is secured to the web anchorage 28C so that the seat portion 20 of the wheelchair seating system is secured to the wheelchair frame 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the wheelchair 12 may include only a single auxiliary web 30 as shown in FIG. 1B, or may alternatively include two such auxiliary webs 30 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0033] Referring now to FIG. 1C, a side elevational view of yet another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10 is shown. The wheelchair occupant restraint system illustrated in FIG. 1C is identical in many respects to that illustrated in FIG. 1B, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like elements. In the illustrated embodiment, the web anchorage 28C of FIG. 1B is replaced with a conventional locking web retractor 34 that is securely mounted to the docking structure 22. The auxiliary web 30 has one end secured to the web retractor 34, and the web 30 is payable out of the retractor 34 in a known manner. In this embodiment, any required web length adjustment is accomplished automatically via the web retractor 34. The web retractor 34 may be of the inertial locking type, or may alternatively or additionally include a manual web locking mechanism.

[0034] The opposite end 30A of the auxiliary web 30 is affixed to the anchorage member 28B. Alternatively, the web anchorage 28 may be as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and the free ends of the lap web 26 and the auxiliary web 30 may both be affixed to the web anchorage 28. Alternatively still, the auxiliary web 30 may be configured to loop around the web anchorage 28A, 28B as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and to attach at its free end to the web 30 or other suitable structure.

[0035] The auxiliary web 30 may be a single length of web as illustrated in FIG. 1C, or may alternatively comprise two lengths of web having conventional releasably engagable structures attached to their free ends. For example, as illustrated in phantom in FIG. 1C, one free end may be attached to a conventional buckle 32A and the opposite free end may be attached to a conventional tongue 32B, wherein the buckle 32A and tongue 32B are configured to be releasably engaged with each other. Alternatively, other conventional engagement structures may be affixed to the free ends of the two lengths of the auxiliary web 30 for releasably securing the two free ends together. In any case, when the auxiliary web 30 is mounted to the wheelchair 12 as shown in FIG. 1C, the web anchorage 28B is secured to the web retractor 34 so that the seat portion 20 of the wheelchair seating system is secured to the wheelchair frame 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the wheelchair 12 may include only a single auxiliary web 30 as shown in FIG. 1C, or may alternatively include two such auxiliary webs 30 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0036] Referring now to FIG. 3, a side elevational view of yet another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10' is shown. The restraint system 10' is identical in many respects to the restraint system 10 illustrated in FIGS. 1A-1C and 2, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like components. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 3, a conventional loop, ring or other attachment structure 40 is attached to the frame 14 and is configured for releasable connection to another loop, ring or other attachment structure 41. The attachment structure 41 is attached to one end of a web or tether 42 having an opposite end attached to a web length adjuster 44. The web length adjuster 44 is configured to be releasably secured to the wheelchair support structure 24. The web length adjuster 44 may be manually actuated to remove slack from the web 42 to thereby secure the frame 14 to the support structure 24. The web length adjuster 44 may also be manually actuated to add slack to the web 42 to thereby allow the attachment structure 41 to be removed from the attachment structure 40 for release of the wheelchair 12. It will be understood that any number of such tethers 42 and associated attachment and web length adjustment devices may be used to secure the frame 14 of the wheelchair to the support structure 24.

[0037] Another loop, ring or other attachment structure 28C is provided in the form of a web anchorage, and is attached to the frame 14 adjacent to the attachment structure 40. One end of the auxiliary web 30 is affixed to the web anchorage 28C in a conventional manner, and the opposite end is affixed to the web anchorage 28B as described hereinabove. Alternatively, the web anchorage 28C may be omitted, and the one end of the auxiliary web 30 may be attached directly to the attachment structure 40. Alternatively still, the web anchorage 28 may be as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and the free ends of the lap web 26 and the auxiliary web 30 may both be affixed to the web anchorage 28. Alternatively still, the auxiliary web 30 may be configured to loop around the web anchorage 28A, 28B as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and to attach at its free ends to the web anchorage 28C or attachment structure 40. In any case, the auxiliary web 30 is attached between the web anchorage 28 (or 28A, 28B) and the frame 14 of the wheelchair 12.

[0038] The auxiliary web 30 may be a single length of web as illustrated in FIG. 3, or may alternatively comprise two lengths of web having conventional releasably engagable structures attached to their free ends as described hereinabove with respect to FIGS. 1A-1C. Any such engagement structure may include a web length adjuster for introducing slack into, or removing slack from, the auxiliary web 30. Alternatively, the web 30 may be sized to fit tightly between the web anchorages 28B and 28C. Alternatively still, the web anchorage 28C may be replaced with a locking retractor as described hereinabove with respect to FIG. 1C, in which case the web 30 may have an automatically adjustable length. In any case, when the auxiliary web 30 is mounted to the wheelchair 12 as generally shown in FIG. 3, the web anchorage 28B is secured to the web anchorage 28C so that the seat portion 20 of the wheelchair seating system is secured to the wheelchair frame 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the wheelchair 12 may include only a single auxiliary web 30 as shown in FIG. 3, or may alternatively include two such auxiliary webs 30 as shown in FIG. 2.

[0039] Referring now to FIG. 4, a side elevational view of still another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10" is shown. The restraint system 10" is identical in many respects to the restraint system 10' illustrated in FIG. 3, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like components. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 4, web or tether 42 is secured between the frame 14 of the wheelchair 12 and the support surface 24, as described hereinabove with respect to FIG. 3, to thereby secure the frame 14 to the support surface 24. As with the embodiment described with respect to FIG. 3, it will be understood that any number of such tethers 42 and associated attachment and web length adjustment devices may be used to secure the frame 14 of the wheelchair to the support structure 24. In the illustrated embodiment, the auxiliary tether 30 is affixed between the web anchor 28B and the support surface 24 to thereby secure the web anchor 28B and the web 26 to the support surface 24. By securing both the web anchor 28B and the frame 14 to the same support structure 24, the seat 20 is therefore indirectly secured to the frame 14.

[0040] A web length adjuster 46 is attached to one end 39B of a web or tether 39 having an opposite end 39A attached to a conventional buckle 32A. One end of another web or tether 38 is attached to a conventional tongue 32B, and the opposite end of the tether 38 is attached to the web anchor 28B. Alternatively, the opposite end of the web 38 may be attached to the web anchor 28A. Alternatively still, the web anchor 28A, 28B may be as illustrated in FIG. 1A, and the web 38 may loop around the web anchor 28 and attach back to the web 38. In any case, the auxiliary web 30 comprises the webs 38 and 39, and is attached between the web anchorage 28, 28A or 28B and the retractor 46 by engaging the buckle 32A and 32B. In alternative embodiments, the buckle 32A and tongue 32B may be replaced by other conventional releasably engagable structures. In one embodiment, the locking retractor 46 provides for automatic adjustment of the overall length of the auxiliary web 30. Alternatively, the retractor 46 may be a manually actuatable web length adjusting device of the type described hereinabove with respect to the web length adjusting device 44. In any case, when the auxiliary web 30 is mounted between the seat 20 of the wheelchair 12 and the support structure 24 as generally shown in FIG. 4, the seat portion 20 of the wheelchair seating system is secured to the wheelchair frame 14. In the illustrated embodiment, the wheelchair 12 may include only a single auxiliary web 30 as shown in FIG. 4, or may alternatively include two or more such auxiliary webs 30.

[0041] Referring now to FIG. 5, a side elevational view of still another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair restraint system 10'" is shown. The restraint system 10'" is identical in many respects to the restraint systems 10 and 10' illustrated in FIGS. 1-3, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like components. However, it will be understood that in the illustrated embodiment, the auxiliary web 30 may, but need not be, included. In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5, the frame 14 of the wheelchair 12 is further shown as having another frame anchorage mechanism 43 mounted thereto and secured via an attachment structure 41 to one end of a tether 45 having an opposite end attached to another attachment structure 47 mounted to the support structure 24. The attachment structure 47 may be similar to or identical to the attachment structure 44 described hereinabove. Those skilled in the art will recognize that the tethers 42 and 45 represent two of typically four conventional wheel chair tie-downs for securing the frame 14 of the wheelchair 12 to the support surface 24, wherein surface 24 may be a floor of a motor vehicle or other support surface. It will be understood that any of the embodiments 10, 10 and 10" illustrated and described hereinabove may include one or more such wheelchair tie-downs, although not all of the embodiments are specifically illustrated in FIGS. 1-4 with such tie-downs.

[0042] In any case, the seating system of the wheelchair 12 of FIG. 5 includes a back 48 mounted to the frame 14 with a lower portion of the back 48 adjacent to the seat 20 and an opposite upper portion of the back 48 extending upwardly away from the seat 20 in a conventional manner such that the seat 20 and back 48 are configured to cooperatively support the wheelchair occupant 15.

[0043] In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 5, the wheelchair restraint system 10'" includes a shoulder restraint belt, web or tether 50 having a releasable connector attached to one end 50A, and having an opposite end 50B secured to a shoulder belt support mechanism 52 extending upwardly away from the upper portion of the back 48 of the wheelchair 12. A conventional lap restraint belt, web or tether 26 may also be included, and may have one end attached to the end 50A of the shoulder belt 50 so that the lap restraint belt 26 and shoulder restraint belt 50 may be releasably connected simultaneously to the releasable connector as shown in FIG. 5. Alternatively, the end 50A of the shoulder restraint web and the free end of the lap web may not be attached to each other and may instead each have a releasable connector attached thereto. In this embodiment, corresponding releasable connectors may be attached to the seat 20 and configured for releasable connection to the webs 50 and 26. In any case, the shoulder belt support mechanism 52 may be mounted to, or integral with, the back 48 of the wheel chair 12.

[0044] In the illustrated embodiment, a wall 64 extends upwardly from the support surface 24 behind the wheelchair, and may represent a wall or frame of a motor vehicle. The wheelchair restraint system 10'" further includes a wheelchair back restraint mechanism 60 including a web or tether connector 62 securely mounted to the wall 64 and connected via web or tether 66 to a rear surface of the shoulder belt support mechanism 52. In the illustrated embodiment, the web or tether connector 62 is a locking retractor mounted to the wall 64 near its base, and may alternatively be mounted to the support structure 24 near the base of the wall 64. A ring or other pass-through structure 63 is mounted to the wall 64 above the retractor 62. One end of the web or tether 66 is attached to the retractor 62, and its opposite end passes through the ring or other pass-through structure 63 and is attached to a releasable connector 68B such as a conventional tongue. Another releasable connector 68A is mounted to or integral with the shoulder belt support mechanism 52.

[0045] In the illustrated embodiment, the releasable connector 68A is a conventional buckle and the releasable connector 68B is a conventional tongue. The buckle 68A and tongue 68B are configured to releasably engage each other in a conventional manner. Alternatively, the buckle 68A and tongue 64B may be reversed from the configuration shown in FIG. 5. Alternatively still, the buckle 68A and tongue 68B may be replaced with other conventional releasable connector structures. In any case, the web or tether 66 is connectable between the shoulder belt support mechanism 52 and the wall 64. During an abrupt forward motion in the direction of the arrow 100, such as during a vehicle impact, the locking retractor 62 locks and the web or tether 60 inhibits the back 48 of the wheelchair 12 from also moving in the direction of the arrow 100.

[0046] Referring now to FIG. 6, a side elevational view of still another illustrative embodiment of a wheelchair occupant restraint system 10"" is shown. The restraint system 10"" is identical in many respects to the occupant restraint system 10'" illustrated in FIG. 5, and like numbers are therefore used to identify like components. In the illustrated embodiment, the web retractor 62 is mounted to a front wall 65 that faces the occupant 15. The web or tether 66 is connectable between the shoulder belt support mechanism 52 and the wall 65, as described hereinabove with respect to FIG. 5. During an abrupt rearward motion in the direction of the arrow 102, such as during a vehicle impact, the locking retractor 62 locks and the web or tether 66 inhibits the back 48 of the wheelchair 12 from also moving in the direction of the arrow 102.

[0047] With some conventional wheelchairs including an integral shoulder restraint belt 50, such as the wheelchair 12 illustrated in FIGS. 5-6, it may be desirable to secure the shoulder belt support mechanism 52 extending from the wheelchair back 14 to a rigid support surface for the purpose of transferring loads between the support surface and the shoulder belt support mechanism 52, as described hereinabove in the BACKGROUND section. The wheelchair restraint embodiments 10'" and 10"" illustrated in FIGS. 5-6 are directed to techniques for achieving this goal.

[0048] In embodiments of the wheelchair occupant restraint assembly that include both a lap restraint belt 26 and a shoulder restraint belt 50 that each have a releasable connector attached to a free end thereof, it may be desirable to provide one or more visual indicators identifying which of the shoulder restraint belt 50 and lap restraint belt 26 connect to each of corresponding mating releasable connectors. Such visual indicators may be particularly helpful when either of the shoulder web 50 or the lap web 26 does not form part of the occupant restraint harness mounted to the wheelchair 12.

[0049] In one embodiment, for example, the widths of the lap restraint web 26 and of the corresponding connecting web 26' adjacent to their corresponding connecting ends are sized to indicate that these respective ends are configured for releasable connection with each other. Likewise, the widths of the shoulder restraint web 50 and of the corresponding connecting web 50' adjacent to their corresponding connecting ends are sized to indicate that these respective ends are configured for releasable connection with each other. As illustrated by example in FIG. 7, the widths of the shoulder web 26 and of the corresponding connecting web 50' adjacent to their connecting ends are sized to be wider than the remaining portions of the respective webs, while the widths of the lap web 26 and corresponding connecting web 26' have uniform width. Alternatively, the widths of the lap restraint webs 26 and 26' may be sized to be wider than those of the shoulder webs 50 and 50'. Alternatively still, portions of the lap webs 26 and 26' or shoulder webs 50 and 50' may be sized to be narrower than those of the other webs. Generally, the webs 26, 26', 50 and 50' may be sized in any desirable manner to provide an indication that the lap web 26 should connect to the web 26' and that the shoulder web 50 should connect to the web 50'. Although not specifically shown in FIG. 7, the opposite ends of the connecting webs 26' and 50' are configured for attachment to the wheelchair seat 20 in a conventional manner.

[0050] In another embodiment, for example, the lap restraint web 26 and the corresponding connecting web 26', and/or the shoulder restraint web 50 and the corresponding connector web 50' may alternatively or additionally include an identifying label attached adjacent to their corresponding connecting ends as illustrated by example in FIG. 8. Generally, the labels 80, if included, will be configured, via color, texture, printed text, graphics, the mere presence of such labels, or the like, to indicate that the webs 26 and 26' are configured for connection together. Likewise, the labels 82, if included, will be configured via color, texture, printed text, graphics, the mere presence of such labels, or the like, to indicate that the webs 50 and 50' are configured for connection together.

[0051] Alternatively or additionally, the lap restraint webs 26 and 26' and/or the shoulder restraint webs 50 and 50' may each be color coded in a manner that indicates that the respective connections. As illustrated in FIG. 9, for example, the webs 26 and 26' may be provided in one color while the webs 50 and 50' are provided in a different color. Those skilled in the art will recognize other techniques and/or mechanisms for identifying adjacent ends of the webs 26 and 26' and/or webs 50 and 50' that are configured to connect together, and any such other techniques and/or mechanisms are intended to fall within the scope of this disclosure.

[0052] While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the foregoing drawings and description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only illustrative embodiments thereof have been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected.

Related Patent
Patent NO. Wheelchair Patent Title
20050248121 Automatic wheelchair brake device
20050248105 Device for climbing stairs for a wheelchair
20050238471 Wheelchair lift
20050238453 Wheelchair locking device
20050236812 Wheelchair with elevating seat
20050236208 Power wheelchair
20050229317 Wheelchair cushion to transfer heat and moisture
20050225040 Obstacle traversing wheelchair
20050214090 Wheelchair docking system
20050214089 Wheelchair docking system
20050214088 Wheelchair occupant restraint system
20050212255 Wheelchair provided with legrest and calfrest
20050211011 Wheelchair mobility hndle
20050206116 Fold-up wheelchair and elevating apparatus of the same
20050206115 Wheelchair with a steering/driving device
20050199449 Wheelchair wheel immobilizer
20050199157 Folding table for wheelchair
20050189803 Pelvic hip positioner for a wheelchair seat
20050183900 Wheelchair
20050179230 Wheelchair and leg support accessory
20050173166 Locating structure of a brake device of an electric wheelchair or the like
20050168033 Adjustable wheelchair
20050167942 Wheelchair drive mechanism
20050156404 Combined wheelchair, walker, and sitting chair
20050127631 Curb-climbing power wheelchair
 
 
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
Quick Index
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z