US 3556105 A
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United States Patent  inventor Lillian B. Shepard 3311 Bagley Ave., Los Angeles, Calif. 90034  App]. No. 731,953  Filed May 24, 1968  Patented Jan. 19, 1971  ELECTRICAL STIMULATOR AND MITTEN 5 Claims, 8 Drawing Figs.
 11.8. C1 128/417  Int. Cl A61n 1/32  Field otSearch. 128/404, 406,410,41 1. 417,418,381, 362, 24.5. (Velcro. Digest), (Pickup Digest)  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 206,474 7/1878 Morel 128/24.5 459,144 9/1891 Matthews"... 128/417X 1,545,413 7/1925 Elmvall 128/24.5 1,583,087 5/1926 Morse 128/417 1,915,721 6/1933 Diaz 128/24.5X 2,632,447 3/1953 Dobes 128/404 3,063,749 1 1/1962 Struble et a1 297/220 Primary Examiner-L. W. Trapp Ass istant Examinerl(yle L. Howell Attorney-Smyth, Roston & Pavitt ABSTRACT: An electrical stimulator of the type which applies a low frequency oscillating current to selected regions of the body to cause periodic contraction and release of the muscle tissue through which the current flows. In a preferred form, the stimulator includes an intermediate ply sandwiched between two outer plies and defining a hand receiving enclosure therewith. A pair of spaced contacts are mounted on one of the outer plies and a pair of conductors extend along one face of such ply and are connected, respectively, to the contacts. The conductors are connectable to a source of oscillating electrical current and are retained against such face of the ply by suitable means. Preferably, an absorbent pad covers both of the contacts and spans the space therebetween so that when the pad is soaked with a conductive fluid, a conductive path between the contacts is provided.
ELECTRICAL STIMULATOR AND MITTEN BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION As is well known. electrical current can be pulsed through local regions of the human body to contract the muscles through which the current passes. When current flow is halted, the muscles are permitted to relax. Accordingly, the muscles can be exercised or flexed by passing a low frequency oscillating current therethrough. Such muscle exercise can be used to firm and strengthen the muscles for cosmetic purposes, or to massage and relax the muscles. Thepresent invention is primarily concerned with an electrical stimulator that is particularly adapted to accomplish all of these purposes.
Numerous devices have been used to apply oscillating current to regions of the body; however, each of these has possessed some disadvantages. For example, someof these stimulators are relatively rigid, and therefore are uncomfortable to maintain in continuous contact with the body. Such rigidity may be brought about. for example. by the use of numerous large conductive metal portions on the exterior surface thereof. Still other stimulators require the application of a conductive liquid or other flowable substance to the body prior to usage of the .stimulator. Other significant disadvantages of prior art stimulators is that they are generally difficult to construct and they cannot simultaneously pass current through both the facial and temporal nerves.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The present invention provides an electrical stimulator of simple construction which generally overcomes the disadvantages noted above. Construction is substantially simplified by using an intermediate ply and first and second outer plies with the intermediate ply being sandwiched between the two outer plies. Each of the plies are constructed of relatively flexible material and are joined together along peripheral portions thereof to define ahand receiving enclosure between the intermediate ply and the first ply. A portion of the peripheries of the intermediate and first plies are unjoined to define an opening for providing access to the enclosure. Thus, the three plies form amitten. As the three plies of material are all relatively flexible, they can becomfortably applied to the body and will easily conform to the contour thereof.
First and second spaced contacts are mounted on the second outer ply. and they are spaced sufficiently to contact the facial and temporal nerves simultaneously. It has been found that such spacing should be at least 1% inches and preferably 1% inches. in order to assure that both of the nerves can be simultaneously stimulated. The intermediate ply is constructed of electrically insulating material to electrically insulate the contacts from the interior of the mitten to preclude current flow to the hand of the user.
The contacts are supplied with electrical energy by a pair of conductors which may be electrically connected to a suitable source of low frequency oscillating current. The conductors extend along one face of the second outer ply. and are suitably.
retained thereagainst to prevent them from becoming entangled with the mitten or the surrounding structure. Such retaining means may be in the form of a tunnel on the outer face of the second ply or may be provided by running the conductors between the. second ply and the intermediate ply.
To eliminate the need for the user having to'coat a region of the body with a conductible flowable substance prior to usage of the stimulator, the present invention provides for the mounting of an absorbent pad on the mitten. The absorbent pad overlies both of the contacts and extends therebetween. The absorbent pad can be soaked or impregnated with a conductive fluid such aswater of a special conductive cosmetic preparation to thereby provide a conductive path between the two contacts.
To facilitate soaking of the pad and to permit soaking of the pad without wetting of the mitten. the present invention provides means for removably mounting the absorbent pad on the second outer ply. Such removable mounting means may include Velcro strips on the second ply and the pad. In another form of the present invention. such means includes cooperating connector members on the pad and the second ply with the connector member on the second ply forming at least a portion of the contacts.
To minimize the cost of replacement and to facilitate repair of the mitten. the present invention teaches that the electrical conductors may be removably connected to the mitten. In a preferred form of the invention, this is accomplished by mounting one connector member on the second ply and by fixedly attaching the end of the conductor to the contact. The contact includes a cooperating connector member which is interlockable with the connector member on the second ply to releasably interconnect the two connector members.
The invention. both as to its organization and method of operation together with further features and advantages thereof may best be understood by reference to the following description taken in connection with the accompanying illustrative drawings.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a perspective view showing the electrical stimulator in use.
FIG. 2 is a top plan view of one form of electrical stimulator constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention and electrically interconnected to a source of low frequency oscillating current.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line 3-3 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged. fragmentary, sectional view taken along line 4-4 of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is an enlarged. fragmentary. exploded, sectional view illustrating one of the contacts and the adjacent portions of the three plies and sponge.
FIG. 6 is a top plan view of a second form of an electrical stimulator constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged sectional view taken along line 7--7 of FIG. 6 with the absorbent pad elevated. above the contacts.
FIG. 8 is anenlarged, fragmentary. exploded, sectional view illustrating one of the contacts and the adjacent portions of the three plies and sponge.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS Referringto the drawings and in particular to FIGS. 1-5 thereof, reference numeral 1 I designates an electrical stimulator constructed in accordance with the teachings of this invention. As best shown in FIG. 3, the stimulator II includes first and second outer plies 13 and I5 and. an intermediate ply l7 sandwiched between the two outer plies. The intermediate ply l7 and the outer ply 13 are preferably coextensive and the outer ply I5 is slightly larger than either of the other two plies to permit the ply 15 to form a loop 19 which embraces the peripheral regions of the plies l3 and 17. The plies l3. l5 and 17 are thus interconnected along the peripheral regions thereof as by stitching or bonding.
Each of the plies 13, I5 and 17 are preferably constructed of a relatively flexible material so that they can readily adapt to the contour of the body portion which they engage. The intermediate ply l7 performs an insulating function. as described more fully hereinbelow. and accordingly, this ply should be constructed of a nonconductive material such as plastic which may be transparent. The outer plies l3 and 15 are also preferably constructed of a nonconductive material, and in the embodiment illustrated, the ply 13 is constructed of a transparent plastic material while the ply 15 is constructed of a soft decorative fabric. Alternatively. all three of the plies 13,15 and 17 can be constructed from a heat scalable plastic material to thereby permit joining of the peripheral edge portions thereof with a heat sealing technique.
As shown in FIG. 3. the plies l5 and I7 cooperate to define a hand receiving space or enclosure 21. Edge portions 23 (FIG. 2) of the plies and 17 are disconnected to form an opening 24 (FIG. 1) through which the hand of the user may project into the enclosure 21.
A pair of contact mounting members 25 which are preferably identical, are mounted on the outer ply 13. The contact mounting members 25 shown in FIG. 5 includes first and second aperturedplate members 27 and 29 positioned respectively on opposite sides of the outer ply 13. The contact mounting member 25 may be the female portion of a conventional fastener known as a car fastener. Thus, the plate member 29 has an upwardly extending segmented, annular flange 31 which projects through the aperture in the plate member 27 and is either crimped over the rim of the aperture or the flange 31 may include a plurality of resilient outwardly biased segments with which frictionally retain the two plate members together. With the contact mounting members 25 thus arranged, they provide an upwardly opening aperture 33.
The stimulator 11 also includes a pair of conductors 35 and 37 which are connectable to an electrical energy source, in the form of oscillator means 39 (FIG. 2). The electrical energy source 39 is preferably of the type which supplies low frequency oscillating current, the intensity of which can be appropriately manually varied as by varying the voltage thereof.
The other ends of the conductors 35 and 37 are connected respectively to identical contacts 41 as shown in FIG. 5. The connection between the conductors 35 and 37 and the contacts 41 may be of a permanent nature and may be accomplished. for example, by soldering. Each of the contacts 41 is preferably in the form of a conductive connector member having a projection 43 adapted to be received within the aperture 33 and resiliently retained therein by the flange 31. Thus, the the contact 41 forms the male portion of the so-called car fastener and serves to detachably connect the conductors 35 and 37 to the members 25. The members 25 are preferably constructed of a conductive metal, and therefore may be considered as part of the contacts of the stimulator.
The conductors 35 and 37 may be in the form of insulated wires and movement thereof can be advantageously restrained by a fourth ply or layer of material 45 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. Although the ply 45 may take various forms, in the embodiment illustrated, the ply 45 is in the form of a narrow, thin layer of plastic material which is heat-sealed to the ply 13 to define therewith a tunnel 47 through which the conductors 35 and 37 extend.
An absorbent pad 49 is detachably mounted on the ply 13. The pad 49 may be of any material capable of absorbing and retaining a sufficient amount of conductive liquid such as tap water to provide a conductive path between the contacts 41. A relatively thin sponge may be suitable for this purpose.
In the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1-5, the sponge is removably mounted on the ply 13 with strips 51 of Velcro. As is well-known, the strips 51 include a strip of soft material 53 (FIG. 3) mounted on the pad 49 and a coextensive strip 55 of hooked elements, which interlock with the soft material to retain the two strips 53 and 55 together. Of course, the positions of the soft material 53 and the hook elements 55 may be reversed, if desired.
In operation of the stimulator 11, the contacts 41 are connected to their respective contact mounting members 25 to thereby provide a conductive path between the oscillator means 39 and the contacts 41. The absorbent pad 49 is then soaked with a conductive liquid to the extent required to provide a conductive path between the contacts 41 when the pad is placed in contact with the user. The pad 49 is then mounted on the ply 13 using the Velcro strips 51. The hand of the user is then inserted through the opening 24 to position the pad 45 in contact with the body portion which is to be stimulated.
The oscillator means 39 is then energized and a control knob thereof is turned to provide the desired intensity of stimulation. The conductive liquid within the pad 49 wets the skin portion contacted thereby and the electrical energy passes between the contacts 45 through the user.
A second form of stimulator 101 is shown in FIGS. 6--8. The stimulator 101 differs from the stimulator ll primarily in the manner for attaching the pad to the stimulator, the positioning of the conductors, and then the construction of the contacts.
The stimulator 101 includes a pair of outer plies 103 and 105 and an intermediate ply 107 (FIGS. 7 and 8) which are arranged as described above in connection with FIGS. 1-5. A pair of identical contacts 109 are mounted on the ply 103. As best shown in FIG. 8, each of the contacts 109 includes the male portion of a car fastener, such male portion including a peripheral flange 111 and a projection 113 with an enlarged head. The projection 113 protrudes through an aperture in the ply 103 and the flange 111 engages the inner face of the ply 103. Although any suitable means for retaining the contact 109 in this fashion on the ply 103 may be utilized in the embodiment illustrated, such means includes a ring member 115 having radial lances 117 therein. The projection 113 can be forced through the opening in the ring member 115 with a snap action, and the enlarged head thereof is resiliently retained by the ring member.
A pair of electrical conductors 119 and 121 are connected at one end to oscillator means and at the other end to the contacts 109. As shown in FIG. 8, the conductor 119 is wrapped around the base of the projection 113 so that when the contact 109 is in position. the conductor is clamped between the flange 111 and the lower or inner face of the ply 103. In order to make this arrangement possible, the conductors 119 and 121 extend between the plies I03 and 107 with the ply 107 serving to insulate the contacts 109 from the volume enclosed by the plies 105 and 107. In order that the plies 103 and 107 may guide the conductors 119 and 121, these plies may be secured together as by heat sealing along spaced parallel portions 123 (FIG. 6).
An absorbent pad 125 is detachably secured to the remainder of the stimulator 101 in overlying relationship to the contacts 109. The pad 125, like the pad 49. is constructed of suitable absorbent material and it performs the same function as the pad 49. The pad 125 is however detachably secured directly to the contacts 109. To this end, the pad 125 carries a pair of identical female connector members 127, which may be the female portions of a conventional car fastener. The connector members 127 cooperate with the contacts 109, which form the male portion of the fastener to removably mount the pad on the remainder of the stimulator 101.
Each of the connector members 127 includes ring members 129 and 131 having resilient axially extending flanges which can be assembled in telescoping relationship to resiliently retain the two ring members 129 and 131 together in a conventional manner. The flange portions of the ring members 129 and 131 then engage the opposite faces of the pad 125 to firmly mount the connector member 127 on the pad. With the connector member 127 thus mounted on the pad 125, it can receive and lockingly retain the projection 113 of the contact 109. Thus, the contact 109 and the member 127 form a fastener element for releasably retaining the pad 125 in overlying relationship to the contacts. As the member 127 is preferably constructed of metal it may be considered as a portion of the contact 109. The operation of the stimulator 101 is the same as that described above for the stimulator 11.
Although exemplary embodiments of the invention have been shown and described, many changes, modifications and substitutions may be made by one having ordinary skill in the art without necessarily departing from the spirit and scope of this invention.
1. An electrical stimulator mitten comprising:
first and second outer plies;
an intermediate ply sandwiched between said outer plies,
each of said plies being constructed of relatively flexible material and said intermediate and second plies being constructed of nonconductive material, said second ply having outer and inner faces;
said plies being joined together along at least a portion of the peripheries thereof to define an enclosure between said first and intermediate plies, a section of the peripheries of the intermediate ply and the first ply being unjoined to define anopening for providing access to said enclosure, said opening and said enclosure being sized to receive the hand of a user whereby said enclosure is of mittenlike construction;
first and second spaced contacts;
means for mounting said contacts on said second ply, said intermediate ply insulating said contacts from the interior of said enclosure whereby the intermediate ply does not provide a conductive path between said contacts and the hand of a user within said enclosure;
first and second electrical conductors; I
means for connecting said first and second contacts to said first and second conductors, respectively;
tunnel means for guiding said conductors away from said contacts whereby electrical energy can be supplied through said conductors to both of said contacts;
an absorbent pad overlying said first and second contacts and being in electrical contact therewith, said pad extend-' ing between said contacts with the pad overlying and confronting at least a portion of the outer face of said second ply; and r means for connecting said pad to at least one of said plies.
2. An electrical stimulator mitten as defined in claim 1 wherein said means for mounting said contacts on said second ply includes a first connector element mounted on said second ply and clampingly engaging said inner and outer faces thereof, said first contact includes a second connector element, said first and second connector elements being releasably interconnectable to releasably connect said first contact to said second ply.
3. An electrical stimulator mitten as defined in claim 2 wherein said pad is constructed of a sponge material, said one ply is said second ply, to said second ply includes soft material on one of theseeond ply and the pad and second ply and said sive.
and said means for connecting said pad hooklike elements on the other of said pad, said plies being substantially coexten- 4. An electrical stimulator mitten as defined in claim 1 6 wherein said last mentioned means includes a first connector element mounted on said absorbent pad, saidfirst contact defining a second connector element, said first and second connector elements being interlockable to releasably affix said absorbent pad to said second ply.
5. An electrical stimulator comprising: first and second outer plies; an intermediate ply sandwiched between said outer plies, each of said plies being constructed of relatively flexible material and said intermediate and second plies being constructed of nonconductive material, said second ply having outer and inner faces; said plies being joined together along at least a portion of the peripheries thereof to define an enclosure between said first and intermediateiplies, a section of the peripheries of the intermediate ply and the first ply being unjoined to define an opening for providing access to said enclosure, said opening and said enclosure beingsized to receive the hand or whereby said enclosure is of mittenlike construction; first and second spaced contacts; means for mounting said contacts on said second ply, said intermediate ply insulating said contacts from the interior of said enclosure whereby the intermediate ply does not provide a conductive path between said contacts and the hand ofa user within said enclosure; first and second electrical conductors; means for connecting said first and second contacts to said first and second conductors, respectively; tunnel means for guiding said conductors away from said contacts whereby electrical energy can be supplied through said conductors to both of said contacts; an absorbent pad overlying said first and second contacts