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Publication numberUS3829917 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication date20 Aug 1974
Filing date15 Feb 1973
Priority date15 Feb 1973
Publication numberUS 3829917 A, US 3829917A, US-A-3829917, US3829917 A, US3829917A
InventorsDe Laittre E, Timberg W
Original AssigneeDe Laittre E, Timberg W
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Therapeutic pillow
US 3829917 A
Abstract
A therapeutic pillow for head and neck support of a user in a horizontal resting position on a supporting surface wherein a homogeneous, integral, generally elongate pad of resilient foam rubberlike material includes a pair of user supporting lobes on an upper face thereof, the lobes being separated by a trough therebetween and the lobes extending the length of the elongate dimension of the pad and overhanging the pad therealong such that when the head and neck of a user are placed on the upper face, they cause the overhanging portion of one of said lobes under and adjacent the user to stretchedly roll toward the supporting surface and outwardly from the pad to a position contacting the surface, thereby generating a restoring force and applying the force to the neck and head of the user thereby gently stretching the neck muscles of the user and encouraging a relaxed sleeping posture.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [191 De Laittre, deceased et al.

[451 Aug. 20, 1974 THERAPEUTIC PILLOW [76] Inventors: Earle W. De Laittre, deceased, late is j etMiaedlm Timberg, executor, 5207 GiandvlEW Ln., Minneapolis, Minn. 55436 22 Filed: Feb. 15,1973

211 App]. No.: 332,671

Primary Examiner-Paul R. Gilliam Assistant Examiner-Andrew M. Calvert Attorney, Agent, or Firm-Conrad A Hansen [57] ABSTRACT A therapeutic pillow for head and neck support of a user in a horizontal resting position on a supporting surface wherein a homogeneous, integral, generally elongate pad of resilient foam rubberlike material includes a pair of user supporting lobes on an upper face thereof, the lobes being separated by a trough therebetween and the lobes extending the length of the elongate dimension of the pad and overhanging the pad therealong such that when the head and neck of a user are placed on the upper face, they cause the overhanging portion of one of said lobes under and adjacent the user to stretchedly roll toward the supporting surface and outwardly from the pad to a position contacting the surface, thereby generating a restoring force and applying the force to the neck and head of the user thereby gently stretching the neck muscles of the user and encouraging a relaxed sleeping posture.

3 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION Most comercially available pillows provide relatively poor sleeping support to the user and are often gadgetlike in shape and provide an unacceptable appearance when made up with conventional bedding. Authorities agree that the object of a well designed pillow is to support and maintain the neck and head of a user in substantially the same natural position relative to the body which is assumed by the head and neck when the user is standing or sitting. Such a position has been found most restful and avoids the unnatural stresses on the neck and cervical area at the top of the spine which often result when the head and neck are placed in unnatural positions during sleep.

Authorities have also found it desirable to apply gentle but even forces to the head and neck region during sleep or rest to gently stretch the neck muscles, causing them to relax and thereby further reducing neck and spinal stresses and inducing more restful sleep.

Pillow discomfort is often caused by excessive local pressure applied by the pillow to the head of the user. When these excessive pressures can be reduced or eliminated, comfort is substantially increased. The present invention is designed to minimize generation of such pressures.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION The invention relates to the field of therapeutic pillows for support of the head and neck region of a user to induce better, more restful sleep.

The therapeutic pillow invention comprises an integral generally elongate pad of resilient foam rubberlike material having an upper face with a pair of generally parallel, user supporting lobes extending the length of the pad and separated by a trough, one lobe positioned to support the neck region of the user and the second lobe to support the upper head region when the body of the user lies in a generally transverse orientation to the elongate dimension of the pad.

The pillow is provided with a lower, generally flat face which in association with the pair of lobes achieves a conventional pillow appearance.

Both lobes are generally convex in cross section and extend from the lower face to the trough, merging smoothly with the trough. The lobes overhang the supporting surface on which the pillow ordinarily rests, such overhanging occurring all along the elongate dimension of the pad. When the head and neck of the user are placed on the upper face, the overhanging portion of the lobe which supports the neck stretchedly rolls toward the supporting surface and outwardly from the pad from a first position overhanging the surface to a second position contacting the horizontal surface, generating a restoring force which is applied to the neck andhead of the user to thereby gently stretch the neck muscles of the user and induce a more relaxed sleeping posture.

The pillow is shaped to conform to the head and neck of the user and thereby minimizes generation of unwanted pressures on the head of the user while providing desired support.

The pillow may also be used in an inverted position with the flat face upward, which for many users provides substantial support and comfort.

In the inverted position, the pillow closely conforms to the head and neck. This close conformation occurs before the foam is fully compressed and thus distributes the pressure more evenly. The more even pressure distribution substantially reduces the likelihood of excessive localized pressures, a most serious cause of discomfort.

The deformation of the essentially flat face also provides a large contact surface which, since the load remains constant, reduces the overall pressure, further increasing the pillows comfort.

The invention is sturdy, long lasting, easy to manufacture and provides a highly desirable pillow for the support of a user in his preferred sleeping position, which retains the users head and neck in a natural, comfortable position substantially identical to the position occupied by them when in a normal sitting or standing position. Since the pillow is formed of a homogeneous block of material having substantially the same resilient characteristics throughout, it assures that the neck and head of a user receive evenly distributed support throughout the head-neck region thereby diminishing unnatural distortion of the spine and undesired pressure on nerves and neck muscles.

The supporting lobes of the pillow extend the length of the pillow permitting the user to lie on his back or side with equal comfort and facility and to move from side to side as may appear most comfortable to him during his sleeping period without sacrificing the even support of the pillow. The lobes are of different heights so as to provide a comfortable position for heads and necks of various shapes and sizes. The flat lower face of the pillow, in association with the lobes, gives the pi]- low a conventional pillow appearance when made up with standard bedding.

These and other advantages will become apparent from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS and indicating the supporting forces applied to the head and neck region of a user.

FIG. 3 is a top elevational view of the pillow of FIGS. 1 and 2 showing the distribution of supporting forces when occupied by a user.

FIG. 4 is a rear elevational view of the pillow of FIG. 3 taken in direction 4-4 and showing an alternative use position of the pillow.

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of the pillow showing another position of use and illustrating the distribution of supporting forces occasioned by such use.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the pillow showing its lower face in an upward orientation with the lobes resting on the supporting surface.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION Referring now to FIG. 1, the therapeutic pillow 10, embodying the invention, is shown on a supporting surface 12 with a user 14 resting thereon. The pillow, which is formed of an integral, homogeneous, generally elongate pad 11 of resilient foam rubberlike material, such as urethane foam or the like has upper and lower faces 16 and 18, respectively, the entire pillow 10 being contained in a commercially available pillowcase 20. A tailored, zippered cover 22 encases the pillow 10, but has been partially cut away to better show the pillow construction.

The upper face 16 of the pillow 10 is provided with a first user supporting lobe 24, the first lobe positioned on the pillow to support the neck region of the user when the users body is generally transverse to the elongate dimension of the pillow as shown in FIG. 1. A second user supporting lobe 26 is spaced from and generally parallel to the first lobe 24, and the lobes 24 and 26 extend the length of the pillow 10 along the elongate dimension thereof. The second lobe 26 is shown in FIG. 1 supporting the upper head region of the user and cooperating with the lobe 24 and trough 28 to cradle the head. A trough 28 extends the length of the pillow l and separates the first and second lobes from one another and merges smoothly into the curvature of the lobes.

The lower face 18 is provided with a fiat, generally rectangular base 30, best seen in FIG. 6. This flat rectangular base 30 provides excellent foundational support for the pillow as it rests on the supporting surface 12. When the pillow is inverted such that the lobes 24 and 26 rest upon the surface 12, with the base 30 upward, the flat base 30 in association with the lobes 24 and 26 achieves a conventional pillow appearance when a pillow slip is placed thereabout and the bed is made up in conventional fashion.

Referring now to F IG. 2, the lobes 24 and 26 are generally convex in cross section and extend from the lower face 18 and merge smoothly with the trough 28.

In the embodiment of the pillow invention shown herein, the first and second lobes 24 and 26, respectively, are each of substantially constant diameter from its line of intersection with the lower face 18 to its line of intersection with the trough 28 as is best indicated in FIG. 6 where the radii 32 and 34 and the approximate extent of their rotation are indicated. While the lobes have been shown as being of constant radius herein, it should be understood that this is not essential and that other curvatures achieving a generally similar lobe shape are within the purview of the invention.

The lobe 24 is formed with a smaller diameter than the lobe 26 to assure that the lobe 24 does not rise as high above the support surface 12 as does the lobe 26. This has been found desirable in order to accommodate the varying comfort demands of different users, since shapes and sizes of heads and necks vary.

The first lobe 24 is arranged to overhang the supporting surface 12 at 36 all along the elongate dimension of the pillow for a purpose which will now be discussed in detail. It has been found extremely helpful to the inducement of restful sleep that the users head and neck be supported in substantially the same natural position relative to the body as that ordinarily used in standing or sitting. In addition it is beneficial if the head and neck region can be gently upwardly stretched from the shoulders during sleep; a gentle evenly applied force stretching the neck muscles reduces spinal tension and pressure on nerves and neck muscles thereby achieving more restful sleep. These objectives are attained by the present invention.

When the user lies on the pillow 10 as shown in FIG. 2, the resilient pad 11 compresses and adapts itself to the contours of the users neck and head region. As the neck region compresses the first lobe 24, the lobe 24 moves from the unstressed condition 36 successively and stretchedly rolling toward the supporting surface 12 and outwardly from the pad 11 to and through a position 40 and finally to a position 42, shown in phantom, wherein the first lobe 24 has an increased amount of its circumference resting on the supporting surface 12 and generating supporting forces on the users head and neck region as will now be described.

Referring now to FIGS. 2 and 3 the final position 42 is representative of the portion of the pillow directly under and adjacent the users neck and head; force vectors F exert an upward force on the neck of the user and also exert a traction-like force tending to gently urge the neck and head toward the trough 28 of the pillow 10 which results in the neck muscles being gently stretched. The force vectors F are generated as a result of the first lobe 24 being stretchedly rolled outward from the trough and toward the supporting surface 12 as indicated by the successive positions 36, 40 and 42 through which the lobe 24 moves.

The second lobe 26 is constructed in a fashion identical to that already described and discussed for the first lobe 24 and is provided with an overhang similar to that of lobe 24 such that a user lying thereon will cause it to stretchedly roll outward in the same manner described for lobe 24 resulting in a similar distribution of force vectors and an identical result in gently stretching and supporting the neck muscles of the user. Since the result achieved by the second lobe 26 is substantially identical to that for the lobe 24, it will not be discussed in further detail. It should be understood, however, that the user can place either the low or high lobe 24 or 26, respectively, under the neck region depending upon which is most comfortable for him.

While the lobe 24 provides a supporting and stretching effect for the neck region of the user, the trough 28 simultaneously provides upward support F for the head, and the remaining lobe 26 provides additional head support as also indicated in FIGS. 2 and 3 by vectors F Accordingly, the shown lobes 24 and 26 cooperate to cradle the head of the user therebetween to further encourage a relaxed sleeping posture.

While FIGS. 1 through 3 have emphasized the utility of the pillow 10 for supporting a sleeper in a supine position, it should be understood that the pillow is equally confortable for other sleeping positions. FIG. 5 shows the user 14 in a side position and indicates the distribution of forces F in the pillow adjacent the lower head and neck region of the user which gently support the neck and lower head regions. As already described and discussed in detail in FIGS. 2 and 3, when the user depresses the lobe 24 it stretchedly rolls outward from the pad 11 and downward toward the supporting surface 12 to generate the force vectors F, which gently stretch the neck muscles.

Referring now to FIG. 4, the pillow 10 has its ends 44 and 46 rounded, the curve following a gentle contour from the upper face 16 to the lower face 18. The ends 44 and 46 are constructed and arranged to overhang the supporting surface 12 in order to provide greater confort to a user. Some users prefer sleeping on their stomachs with the head in a generally sidewards position on the pillow such that the user 14 looks toward the end 44 of the pillow 10. By shaping the end 44 to overhang the surface 12, greater head comfort is achieved when the user rests his head 48 between the first and second lobes and on the trough 28 because the trough 28 adjacent the end 44 or 46 is easily depressed to a lower position 50 which places less stress on the cervical spine area and permits a more comfortable position of the head 48. As shown in FIG. 4 the head need not be forced wholly to right or left since the depressed end of the trough 28 allows the more comfortable intermediate position 50. The overhanging ends 44 and 46 of the pillow are thus of importance in providing the more comfortable sleeping position 50 shown in FIG. 4 when a user lies on his stomach with head turned to the side. The arrangement permits the head 48 to incline downwardly at the end 44 or 46 of the pillow 10 instead of being aligned directly sideward.

In operation, the user can position the pillow in any position comfortable to himself, the preferred positions being shown in FIGS. l5 wherein the pillow l0 rests on the lower face 18 and the user lies on the upper face 16 with the users body transverse to the elongate dimension of the pillow. In FIGS. 1 and 2 the back of the head is supported by the trough 28 with the first lobe 24 and second lobe 26 providing support to the neck region and upper head region, respectively. As the users neck region depresses the lobe 24, the lobe rolls outwardly and downwardly as shown in FIG. 2, generating restoring forces F which gently lift the head of the user and gently stretch the neck muscles in a direction toward the trough 28 thereby reducing stress to cervical spine area, neck muscles and nerves and inducing more restful sleep. The distribution of the forces F, is shown in FIGS. 2 and 3. The second lobe 26 provides support for the upper head as indicated by force vector F 2 and cooperates with lobe 24 to cradle the head therebetween.

In the event the user finds the pillow more comfortable if the higher lobe 26 is positioned at the neck region, the pillow 10 can be easily rotated and the lobe 26 placed in the position relative to the neck occupied by lobe 24 in FIGS. 1 and 2. In addition, if greater comfort is achieved by placing the pillow in the position shown in FIG. 6 with the base 30 being oriented upward, this too can be used as an alternative position for the pillow. It should be understood that the lobes 24 and 26 are curved such that the lobes 24 and 26 overhang the supporting surface 12 in either the orientation shown in FIG. 6 or FIG. 1. Consequently use of the pillow in either position will cause the generation of the forces described in FIGS. 2 and 3 and the resulting gentle stretching of the neck muscles which has been found so useful in inducement of restful sleep.

Naturally it should be understood that the pillow 10 may be made in various sizes and lengths and the material from which it is formed may be selected to produce pillows of various hardnesses to suit the user.

When the pillow is to be used in making up a bed, the lower face 18 is positioned upward as shown in FIG. 6 to achieve a normal decorative appearance for the bed.

From the foregoing description it will be appreciated that the invention provides a long lasting and comfortable therapeutic pillow which supports the head and neck of a user in a horizontal resting position and allows the neck and head to assume the same relative position with respect to the body which would normally be occupied in a standing or sitting position. While the preferred embodiment of the present invention has been described, it should be understood that various changes, adaptations and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention and the scope of the appended claims.

What is claimed is:

l. A therapeutic pillow for head and neck support of a user in a generally horizontal resting position on a horizontal supporting surface comprising a homogeneous, integral, generally elongate pad of resilient foam rubberlike material, said integral pad including:

an upper face provided with first and second, generally parallel, user supporting lobes extending the length of said pad and connected by a concave trough therebetween, said trough extending the length of said pad, said first lobe spaced from said second lobe so as to support the neck region of the user while said second lobe and said trough simultaneously support the head of the user when the body of the user is generally transverse to the elongate dimension of said pad;

a lower, generally flat face constructed and arranged to, in association with said first and second lobes, achieve a conventional pillow appearance when said lower face confronts a viewer; and

said first and second lobes being generally convex in cross section and extending from said lower face to said trough and merging with said trough, said first lobe overhanging the horizontal surface along the elongate dimension of said pad such that the head and neck of a user, when placed on said pad transverse to the elongate dimension, cause the overhanging portion of said first lobe under and adjacent the user to stretchedly roll toward the supporting surface and outwardly from said pad from a first position overhanging the supporting surface to a second position contacting the supporting surface to thereby generate a restoring force and apply the force to the neck region and head of the user, thereby stretching the neck muscles of the user and cooperating with said second lobe and trough to cradle the head to encourage a relaxed sleeping posture.

2. The therapeutic pillow of claim 1 wherein said first lobe is of constant diameter from the line of intersection with said lower face to the line of intersection with said trough, said first lobe being of smaller diameter than said second lobe.

3. The therapeutic pillow of claim 1 wherein the ends ing surface.

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Classifications
U.S. Classification5/636, D06/601
International ClassificationA47G9/10, A47G9/00
Cooperative ClassificationA47G9/10
European ClassificationA47G9/10