US 3866241 A
There is disclosed herein an inflatable cushioning means comprising a relatively thin, narrow inflatable tubing outlining shoulder areas to be protected and adapted to be disposed underneath conventional semirigid outer shoulder pads.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent 1 [111 3,866,241 Grant Feb. 18, 1975 SHOULDER PAD CUSHION 876.237 1/1908 Ridlon 2/2 7 6] Inventor: Munro M. G n 3 ueb e 2,247,96l 7/l94l Mulvey ../2
212 Vanderbuilt Tower II, Naples, FOREIGN PATENTS OR APPLICATIONS 33940 213,443 3/1958 Australia 2/2  Filed: Nov. 9, 1973 I 1 pp NO'Z 414,347 Przmary ExammerAlfred R. Gues-t 7  [1.8. Cl. 2/2 [5 I T T  Int. Cl A41d 13/00 is dlsclo'sed herem an Inflatable Cushlonmg  Field of Search 2/2 means Comprising a relatilelyv thin, "arrow .lnflatable tubing outlining shoulder area to be'protected and [5 References Cited adapted to be disposed underneath conventional semi- UNITED STATES PATENTS rigid outer shoulder pads.
ll/l903 Gamble 2/2 6 Claims, 6 Drawing Figures 1 SHOULDER PAD CUSHION This invention relates to athletic protective equipment and particularly to an inflatable modular shoulder pad cushion adapted to be worn in pairs underneath football shoulder pads.
The use of inflatable cushioning means under the shoulder pads of a football player is well known to those familiar with the art. The general object of the present invention is to provide an improvement over known cushioning means of the type referred to.
A more specific object of the present invention is to provide a shoulder pad cushion which is modular in form whereby it can be worn on either the right or left shoulder with equal ease. Another object of the invention is to provide such a shoulder pad which is symmetrical in the fore and aft direction whereby it may be worn on either the rightorleft-hand shoulder with the same surface disposed upwardly.
Still another object of the invention is to provide an improved shoulder pad cushion which substantially reduces bulk over prior known models.
Yet another object of the invention is to provide an inflatable shoulder pad cushion formed from two sheets of plastic to provide thin, narrow tubular passage means outlining the area of protection and having integrally formed connector flaps for lacing a pair of the shoulder pad cushions together at the front and back of the wearer.
A still further object of the invention is to provide modular shoulder pad cushions as set forth above which have simple means for orally inflating the cushions without the use of needles, pumps or the like.
Other objects of the invention and a number of advantages thereof will be clearly understood from the following description of a preferred embodiment of the invention as shown in the accompanying drawings, in which said drawings:-
FIG. 1 is a front elevation of a pair of football shoulder pads as they would be positioned upon the shoulders of a player, a pair of shoulder pad cushions of this invention being shown in dotted lines beneath said shoulder pads;
FIG. 2 is a side plan view of the shoulder pads and shoulder pad cushions of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of the shoulder pad cushion of this invention laid flatwise;
FIG. 4 is a side edge view of the shoulder pad cushion of this invention in the position it takes when disposed over a players shoulder, the same being drawn to the scale of FIG. 3;
FIG. 5 is a still further enlarged section through the shoulder pad cushion taken along the line 5-5 of FIG. 3; and
FIG. 6 is an enlarged section taken along the line 6-6 of FIG. 3 showing the valve in the open position in full lines and in the closed position in dotted lines.
Referring now to the drawings in all of which like parts are designated by like reference numerals, FIGS. 1 and 2 show football shoulder pads 10 of conventional form having front chest protecting extensions 11, rear back protecting portions 12, and laterally projecting shoulder caps 13. It will be understood that all of the portions 11, 12 and shoulder caps 13 comprise appropriately shaped shells of semirigid material having padding or other relatively soft liner means disposed on the sides thereof adjacent to the players body. It will be further understood that when one of the semirigid protecting portions sustains a sudden impact, the force of such impact is spread throughout an enlarged area and softened by the padding means.
The shoulder pad cushion of'this invention is indicated by the numeral 20, the same being shown in dotted lines in FIG. 1 and in portions of FIG. 2. Referring particularly to FIG. 3, each shoulder pad'cushion 20 comprises a medial portion 21, adapted to be disposed on top of the players shoulder, and laterally offset extensions 22 and 23. The medial portion 21 has an outermost curved edge 24 adapted to extend outwardly toward the edge of the shoulder and an inner concave edge 25 adapted to pass around one side of the wearers neck. The extensions 22 and 23 are of generally rectangular shape extending downwardly in front of the players chest and downwardly behind his upper back whereby inner straight edge portions 26 and 27 respectively thereof are disposed adjacent to the middle of the players chest and back. Inwardly projecting, lacing flaps 28 and 29 project inwardly from the edges 26 and 27, respectively, and are provided with lacing holes 28a and 29a, respectively. As herein illustrated, the extension 23 is provided adjacent to the distal end thereof with an oral inflating valve 30. A plurality of variously shaped cutouts or openings 31, 31a, 31b and 310 are so provided and are of such size that the entire cushion is skeletal in form comprising continuously connected, relatively thin, narrow inflatable tubing indicated at 32 in FIG. 5. The tubing 32 comprises contour tube portion 32a defining the outer shape of the cushion, interconnecting tube portions 32b across the extensions 22 and 23, interconnecting tube portions 320 adapted to be disposed at the front and rear of a wearers shoulder, and interconnecting tube portion 32d disposed fore and aft across the wearers shoulder.
The inflatable shoulder pad cushion of this invention is preferably made of two superimposed sheets of a suitable lightweight plastic such as a flexible but relatively nonstretchable thin nylon. To obtain the skeletal cushioning form, the outer edges of the cushion and the edges of the cutouts are heat and pressure fused to form outer and inner edge seals 34 and 35, respectively.
The lacing flaps 28 and 29 are also integrally formed from the same sheets of plastic, the flaps being rendered non-inflatable by a seal 36 disposed between each flap and the adjacent tubing along a line coextensive with the straight edge portions 26 and 27. A seal 37 is provided around the outer and side edges of each lacing flap, and the holes 28a and 29a are further sealed around the edges thereof.
The oral inflating valve shown in FIG. 6 has a base 40 of substantially rigid plastic, the base being in the form of an inwardly projecting cup having openings 41 in a peripheral side wall 42 thereof. An integrally formed, upwardly projecting plug 44 is disposed in the bottom of the cup-shaped base 40 in the center of said base.
The peripheral edge of the base is provided with a flange 45 which is sealed to one of the plastic sheets. Superimposed thereabove is an inverted cup-shaped member 46 having a central sleeve 47, a flexible, generally dome-shaped surrounding wall 48, and a peripheral flange 49 sealed to the sheet material above and overlying the flange 45. The upper edge of the sleeve 47 is provided with a short pull tab 50 the purpose of which will hereinafter be fully explained.
To orally inflate the shoulder pad cushion, the inflating valve 30 is disposed in the position shown in full line in H6. 6 whereby the person can blow through the sleeve 47 into the inflatable cushion. All of the cutouts 31, 31a, 3lb and 310 are so arranged that the tubing 32 is continuous andfully interconnected whereby the entire shoulder pad cushion is inflated by a single valve. Upon inflation of the shoulder pad cushion, the sleeve 47 is pushed downwardly quickly whereby the wall 48 collapses inwardly and the sleeve 47 is projected over the plug 44 to prevent the escape of air. ln this position, it will be readily seen that the valve is quite flat and is nearly completely recessed beneath the level of the sheet material to which it is attached.
When it is decided to deflate the shoulder pad cushion 20, the sleeve 47 is removed from the plug 44 by grasping the pull tab 50 and pulling outwardly to separate the sleeve from the plug.
The present construction has been found to have several advantages over known inflatable shoulder pad cushions. First of all, the shoulder pad is preferably made of a lightweight nylon in such skeletal form as to be much lighter in weight and greatly reduced in bulk. The cushion is adapted to be worn under any standard football shoulder pads to increase the comfort and shock-absorbing characteristics thereof. Manufacture of the shoulder pad cushion 20 is simplified by the use of heat and pressure fusing to seal the edges thereof and to integrally and simultaneously form the lacing flaps 28 and 29. In prior cushioning means with which the present inventor is familiar, lacing flaps are manufactured separately and then attached to the cushioning means in a separate manufacturing operation. The savings in time and cost made possible by simultaneously forming the entire cushion and lacing flaps in one operation is obvious. Additionally, the shoulder pad cushion of this invention is made symmetrical in the fore and aft direction whereby the same can be readily used on either shoulder with the valve facing outwardly in either instance. If desired, the modular cushions may be provided in mirror-image pairs by locating the inflating valves such that in each pair the valves are conveniently located at the front of the wearers chest. This, however, does not affect the adaptability of the cushions of this invention to be worn on either shoulder, once inflated.
Although the preferred form of the invention as herein illustrated discloses the use of an oral inflating valve which eliminates the need for conventional inflating needles and pumps, it will be understood that con- 4 ventional or other valve means may be used whereby the shoulder pad cushions would be inflated mechanically.
It will be understood that many changes in the details of the invention as herein described and illustrated may be made without, however, departing from the spirit thereof or the scope of the appended claims.
l. A modular, inflatable shoulder pad cushion for one shoulder adapted to be worn in readily detachable pairs for use underneath football shoulder pads, said cushion comprising skeletal, interconnected, relatively thin, narrow inflatable tubing forming a symmetrical medial portion for extending symmetrically in the fore and aft direction with respect to a wearer substantially over the top of one shoulder of the wearer; said medial portion having fore and aft, symmetrically formed cushion extensions for projecting over the chest and back of the wearer; said extensions comprising part of said skeletal tubing and being inwardly offset whereby inner edges of the extensions of a pair of said cushions worn on the shoulders of a wearer aredisposed adjacent to each other; integrally formed lacing flats projecting from said inner edges for connecting a pair of cushions to each other at the extensions thereof; and inflating valve means provided at one point in said inflatable tubing.
2. A modular inflatable shoulder pad cushion as set forth in claim 1 wherein the tubing is made ofa flexible, substantially nonstretchable plastic material.
3. A modular inflatable shoulder pad cushion as set forth in claim 1 wherein said tubing is made of a flexible, substantially nonstretchable nylon plastic sheet material.
4. A modular inflatable shoulder pad cushion as set forth in claim 1 comprising two superimposed sheets of plastic material in the shape of said symmetrical medial portion, extensions and flaps; said superimposed sheets having aligned openings therein whereby the sheet material defines a pattern of narrow, interconnected strips of said material, said sheets being heat and pressure fused at the outer edges thereof and at edge portions defining said openings whereby to provide said skeletal, interconnected tubing.
5. A modular inflatable shoulder pad cushion as set forth in claim 4 wherein said sheets are heat and pressure fused along a line between said flaps and said extension to prevent inflation of said flaps.
6. A modular inflatable shoulder pad cushion as set forth in claim 1 wherein said valve means comprises means for orally inflating said shoulder pad cushion.