US 2823668 A
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Feb- 18, 1958 c. P. VAN couRT Erm. 2,823,668
INFLATABLE sPL'INT Filed Oct. 12, 1953 an e mwnmkfm meme WMKN.. J.,
CHCM WV NFLATABLE sPLrNT Carl P. Van Court, North Hollywood, Harold E. Kinsman, Beverly Hills, and Clawson N. Skinner, Whittier, Calif.
Application October 12, v1953, Serial No. 385,522 2 Claims. (Cl. '12S- 87) This invention relates to splints and is particularly directed to an all-purpose splint capable of being readily adapted to a portion of a persons body for supporting such portion in a; set position, either temporarily, or for such time as is required for complete healing.
Various types of splints are well known varying simply from a pair of wooden sticks to complicated plaster casts. In the case of broken bones, Particularly during wartime or in other emergency situations, it is customary to set the bones with a temporary splint, usually in the form of a pair of stiilening members bound to the tissue area involved. As soon as the patient has been moved Vto a temporary field hospital or centralized medical center,
the broken bones may be reset if necessary, and a suitable cast Afabricated from plaster of Paris to support the bones in their finally set position until healing is effected. Some bone fractures may take several months to heal, and in such cases, periodic inspections are usually required. This means the destroying of the plaster cast in order kto remove it and thefabrication of a new cast. One object of the present invention is to provide an all-purpose splint which may be applied in the field as a temporary measure, or may be employed as a permanent cast to replace the present plaster of Paris type cast.
Another Objectis to provied a splint of the above type which may be easily removed to facilitate inspection of rthe tissue area involved.
In the applicationof temporary splints, or in the fabrication of permanent casts, little attention has been paid in the past to establishing maximum comfort to the patient. Forvexample, not only are the plaster of Paris casts extremely bulky and cumbersome, but due to their massive rstructures and resulting insulating properties, there' is little provision for proper sterilization and ventilation. Thus, consequent sweating, heat rashes, and analogous discomforts can easily develop. Furthermore, because of the inllexibility of the cast, certain portions of the tissue area surrounded by the cast are liable to be subjected Yto greater pressures than other portions resulting in undue discomfort and possible soreness to the patient.
Accordingly, another object of the invention is to provide a splint which is extremely light in weight, may be 'easily kept sterile, and which incorporates means for insuring maximum ventilation and comfort to the patient.
In the mending of broken bones, it is often necessary to apply a tension to portions of the injured area. This is conventionally accomplished by means of traction attachments necessitating, in some instances, the boring ofa hole `or holes through a patients bone in order to secure a suitable traction cable thereto. This operation is not only painful and irritating to the patient, but is also costly and time consuming.
2,823,668 Patented Feb. 18, 1958 ICC traction attachments to be applied thereto, rather than to the bone structure.
Other objects of the invention are to provide a splint which is readily adaptable to all limbs, is easily applied andy removed, and which is portable, the complete splint being capable of being packed in an ordinary field pack, thus making the invention highly valuable during war time.
In our copending application, Serial No. 377,382, tiled August 3l, 1953, for Method of Making Impressions for Prosthesis, there is disclosed a method and apparatus for making impressions of a portion of a persons tissue area for adapting artificial appliances. The finally fabricated artiicial appliances made in accordance with such impressions are in complete harmony with the physiologic pressure of the tissue area to which the appliance is tted. Maximum comfort to the patient is therefore assured since each portion of the artificial appliance in contact with the tissue is under a pressure in substantial harmony with the physiologic pressure of the tissue area involved.
Some of the principles set forth in the above-referred to copending application are taken advantage of in the present invention. More specilically, the various objects and advantages of the invention are attained by providing a splint which is adapted to support a portion of a person-s body in a set position, with a substantially uniform pressure over the entire covered portion, which pressure is controlled to correspond substantially to the physiologic pressure of the tissue area of the portion.
The preferred form of splint for the above purpose comprises a wrapping incorporating a flexible fluid chamber, adapted to be placed around the broken bone area. The flexible fluid chamber is then inflated under a pressure corresponding substantially to the physiologic pressure of the tissue about which the splint is wrapped. Suitable stiffening members are employed, where necessary, to render the splint rigid in one dimension while not affecting its flexibility in another. Because of the nature of the flexible iluid chamber, the contact pressure of the splint over the entire brokenbone area will be substantially equal at all points and will preferably correspond to the referred to physiologic pressure. The result is that the patient is hardly aware that he is wearing a splint. In other words, the maximum possible comfort available to the patient is secured.
A better understanding of the invention and its additional objects and advantages will be had by referring to the accompanying drawings in which:
Figure l is a general perspective view showing the splint of the present invention in position on a persons forearm;
Figure 2 is a plan view of the stiffening means of the splint in unwrapped position;
Figure 3 is a cross-section taken along the line 3--3 of Figure 2;
Figure 4 is aplan view of the pressure-controlled, iluid chamber system in unwrapped position; and
Figure 5 is a cross-section taken along the line 5-5 of Figure 4.
Referring to Figure 1, the splint is designated generally by numeral 10, and for purposes of illustration, is shown applied to a persons arm 11. The splint itself is preferably formed of an outer wrapping 12 placed about a wrapper 13 carrying a flexible fluid chamber. The wrapper 13 is in turn placed about a gauze or cloth wrapper 14 applied to the tissue area of the persons arm. Portions of one side edge Iof the outer wrapper 12 may be provided with fastenings 15 adapted to lit through openings 16 in the other side edge of the wrapper, for securing the splint to the patients arm. By the use of several openings 16 aligned as shown, or by other suitable ad-v justing methods, the wrapping may be approximately adjusted to the size of the individuals limb.
As shown in greater detail in Figures 2 and 3, the outer wrapping 12 may comprise a suitable flexible material within which there is secured a plurality of stays 17 in the form of elongated strips of metal, for example. These stays are arranged in generally parallel relationship whereby the wrapper is rendered stiff in one dimension while still remaining flexible in its other dimension. To retain the stays in position, an additional strip of cloth C may overlap the stays and be sewn along longitudinal edges to the material 12. The stays may be removed by sliding them out the ends of the overlapping cloth.
Opposite sides of the wrapper 12 are provided with hooks 18 to which traction equipment may be axed.
Referring now to Figures 4 and 5, the wrapper 13 may comprise a double layer of material dening a series of flexible fluid chambers 19 divided into elongated enclosures by cementing, heat sealing, or otherwise aflixing portions of the chamber-dening walls together as at I 20. It will be noted that the chamber walls are left open at their upper and lower ends, as at 21, whereby all of the elongated uid chambers are in uid communication with each other. A stern 22 is provided at one corner of the wrapper 13 communicating with the flexible fluid chambers and connects to a flexible tube 23 for introducing Huid. As shown, the flexible tube 23 branches into tubes 24 and 25, connected to a pressure gauge 26 and a pressure bulb 27, respectively. The bulb 27 may be provided with a check valve 28 communicating with the atmosphere to admit air into the bulb whereby successive squeezings of the bulb will force the air into the flexible uid chambers 19.
As shown more clearly in Figure 5, the wrapper 13 comprises two layers 29 and 30 of iiexible material suitably sealed about its periphery and including the further sealed portions 20. The material is such that it is perfectly flexible, but preferably will not stretch, whereby the pressure within the chamber will not depend upon the elastic properties of the material but only on the pressure of the fluid pumped thereinto as determined by gauge 26.
It will be apparent from the above arrangement that the pressure of fluid pumped into the flexible fluid cham bers may be adjusted to any desired value. Furthermore, it is to be noted that when the wrappers 13 and 12 are in postion on the persons arm, such as shown in Figure l, application of pressure to the uid chamber will result in an absolutely uniform pressure about the entire contact area covered by the splint.
Operation In applying the splint, after the broken bones have been preliminarily set, the patients arm, for example, is rst covered with a suitable gauze or cloth material which may simply be wrapped around the arm and frictionally retained in position. Next, the wrapper 13 is placed around the gauze or cloth to encircle the persons arm, the ilexible fluid chambers 19 being in collapsed condition. The outer wrapper 12 is then placed about the wrapper 13, the stiffening stays 17 serving to rigidly support the various wrappings in the longitudinal direction of the persons arm. The outer wrapping 12 is secured to itself as by means of the fastening means inserted in suitable holes 16.
The pressure-applying bulb 27 is then pumped to inilate the fluid chambers 19 which, due to their interconnections will cause a uniform pressure to be exerted on the entire contact portion of the persons arm embraced bythe splint. This pressure, as indicated by gauge 26, is preferably made to correspond substantially to the physiologic pressure of the tissue area covered. This physiologic pressure of the tissue area, as pointed out in lthe referredato copending application, is different at different parts of a persons body, and may readily be determined by normal blood pressure-taking methods. In
cases, however, where the requirements of pressure are greater or less than the vascular pressures, such pressures may be readily attained by pumping in or releasing the fluid from the chamber.
With the flexible fluid chambers inflated to the proper pressure, the persons arm will be uniformly supported over its entire area, the cemented portions 20 between the various fluid chambers permitting Ventilating passages to be formed between the fluid chambers.
It is to be emphasized that because of the absolutely uniform application of pressure over the entire tissue area, the Isplint will support the set bones with the maximum possible comfort to the patient. It should also be noted, that throughout stages of the healing, the pressure within the fluid chambers may be changed in accordance with normal changes in the physiologic pressure of the tissue area.
Because of the fact that there is uniform pressure at every point of contact between the splint and the persons arm, the splint itself will be held with considerable frictional force and thus the use of the traction hooks 18 will not result in the sliding of the splint along the persons arm. Further, anyV traction force will be uniformly distributed over the entire tissue area, in View of the fact that the flexible fluid chamber is in contact therewith and automatically adjusts itself to maintain such contact pressure uniform.
While the invention has been illustrated in connection with setting a persons arm, it is, of course, to be understood that the splint may be utilized on any portion of a persons body, such as the neck, back, hips, etc. Furthermore, changes in the geometry of the splint may be effected for particularly difficult adaptations. The stays may themselves be formed `of two telescoping tubes or sliding members, whereby their length may be adjusted individually, such that top or side portions may be suitably stiffened, while permitting other portions to be relatively iiexible.
ln addition, it is feasible to employ stays which may be angulated or articulated at intermediate points to permit joint movements by the patient. Further, some of the uid chambers may be isolated from the others whereby greater or lesser pressures may be applied to certain portions of the tissue area than are applied to other portions. The invention also nds useful application in providing uniform pressure to ybandages covering severe burns, an extremely important factor in the treatment of such burns. Also, it will be evident that the splint may Vbe used for the reduction of fractures and in orthopedic treatments in connection with extensions of the skeleton.
It will be evident from the above description that the splint of the present invention has a wide range of applications, is extremely simple to apply, remove for inspection, sterilize, and will provide the patient with maximum comfort during healing of the injured area. The invention is therefore not to be thought of as limited to the particular embodiment disclosed for illustrative purposes.
l. A splint for supporting a portion of the body comprising: a flexible and easily deformed inner wrapper of a size to be placed over said body portion and having a series of elongated uid chambers therein arranged in substantially parallel relationship and interconnected for lluid communication; means connected to said Wrapper for introducing fluid into said chamber; a fluidbody in said chambers under a controlled pressure corresponding substantially to the physiologic pressure of the tissue in the body portion; a separate outer wrapper adapted to overlay said inner wrapper, said outer wrapper having a plurality of spaced parallel stays therein rendering said outer wrapper substantially rigid in one direction; and means mounted on said outer wrapper for tightening said wrapper around said inner wrapper to hold said lluid chamber against outward deformation while allowing free relative adjustment of said chambers inwardly to conform to the natural shape of said body portion and exert a uniform pressure thereagainst.
2. A splint for supporting a portion of the body cornprising: a exible and easily deformed inner wrapper of an area adapted to encircle and cover said body portion and having a series of elongated fluid chambers therein arranged in substantially parallel relationship and extending longitudinally and perpendicular to the circumferential dimension of said wrapper and interconnected for uid communication; means connected to said wrapper for introducing fluid into said chambers; a fluid-body in said chambers under a pressure corresponding substantially to the physiologic pressure of the tissue in the body portion; a separate outer wrapper adapted to enclose said inner wrapper and being exible for circumferential bending and relatively inelastic, said outer wrapper having a plurality of pockets therein extending 1ongitudinally; rigid stays removably mounted in said pockets and holding said outer wrapper against longitudinal bending; and means mounted on said outer wrapper for tightening said wrapper around said inner wrapper to hold said fluid chamber against outward deformation while allowing free relative adjustment of said chambers inwardly to conform to the natural shape of said body portion and exert a uniform pressure thereagainst.
References Cited in the le of this patent UNITED STATES PATENTS 653,179 Hughes July 3, 1900 1,916,789 Fordham July 4, 1933 2,028,060 Gilbert Ian. 14, 1936 2,104,758 Poppen Jan. 11, 1938 2,651,302 Berry Sept. 8, 1953
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