OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
This invention relates to systems
for aiding disabled individuals
and, more particularly, to a system
that facilitates the production of
an alert signal by an individual in
need of assistance.
2. Background Art
The medical industry is constantly
seeking ways to allow disabled individuals
to function independently or with minimal
assistance. A large number of disabled
individuals are required to ambulate
with the assistance of a walker or
a cane. Others are confined to a wheelchair.
While many of these individuals are
capable of substantially independent
living, they are often placed in closely
supervised environments principally
because of the potential dangers associated
with a fall. An otherwise self-sufficient
individual might be unable to elevate
themselves after a fall. After such
a fall, it is not uncommon for some
individuals to remain in this state
unattended for hours, or days. There
are many reported cases of death as
a result of individuals falling and
being unable to right themselves or
summon the necessary help.
To allow a disabled individual
to live relatively independently and
safeguard against such situations,
an individual in a wheelchair may keep
on their person a cellular telephone.
However, after such a fall, the person
may be totally incapacitated, which
makes dialing of the phone impractical.
Further, the force of the fall may
thrust the telephone out of the reach
of the individual.
Systems are also known which allow
automatic, remote dialing of an emergency
number through a conventional telephone
line. In one such system, a transmitter
is carried on a chain which may be
worn around the user's neck. In the
event of a fall, the user need only
press a button to access an emergency
line. This system also requires that
the individual manually convey the
signal after the fall occurs. After
the fall, the individual may be in
an awkward position which prohibits
operation of the transmitter. The nature
of the person's injury may also be
such as to preclude reliable operation
of the transmitter.
The need exists for an alert system
which is reliable enough to afford
peace of mind to a handicapped individual
living in a relatively independent
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
In one form, a device is provided
for assisting relocation of a disabled
individual, which device has a frame
that is disposed between an individual
and a surface underlying the individual
to assist movement of the individual
across the underlying surface. The
frame has a first orientation in which
the frame resides with the frame being
used by the individual to engage the
underlying surface and assist movement
of the individual across the underlying
surface. The device further includes
an alarm system for causing a detectable
signal to be produced as an incident
of the frame being repositioned from
the first orientation into a second
As an example, the frame may be one
of a walker, a self-propelled unit,
a wheelchair, a crutch, and a cane.
The frame may have a different angular
orientation with the frame in the second
orientation than with the frame in
the first orientation.
The alarm system may include a tilt
switch actuator which causes the signal
to be produced as an incident of the
frame changing from a first orientation
into the second orientation.
The alarm system may include a structure
for producing at least one of an audible
and a visual signal.
The alarm system may include an actuator
for producing an actuating signal to
a receiver associated with the structure
for producing the signal.
The actuating signal may be an RF
At least one of the audible and visual
signal may be at least one of a dialing
signal for a telephone, an audible
alarm, a light, or the like.
An actuator may be provided that is
operable by a user with the frame in
the first orientation to cause the
alarm system to cause the detectable
signal to be produced.
The invention also contemplates a
device for assisting relocation of
a disabled individual, which device
has a frame that is disposed between
an individual and a surface underlying
the individual to assist movement of
the individual across the underlying
surface. The frame has a portion which
can be grasped by an individual as
the individual uses the frame to assist
movement of the individual across the
underlying surface. An alarm system
is provided for causing a detectable
signal to be produced. The alarm system
has an actuator on the frame that is
operable by an individual using the
frame to cause production of the detectable
The actuator may be adjacent to the
The actuator may be operable by the
hand of a user with the hand grasping
the portion of the frame.
In one form, the actuator is in the
form of a button that is repositionable
between a depressed position and an
extended position and the actuator
causes the detectable signal to be
produced as an incident of the button
being moved from one of the depressed
and extended positions into the other
of the depressed and extended positions.
In one form, the frame is one of a
walker and a cane with the frame portion
having a graspable handle and the actuator
is on the graspable handle.
The alarm system may be battery operated.
The alarm system may include a detectable
signal generator that is attached to
the frame either permanently or removably.
Similarly, the actuator may be attached
to the frame, either permanently or
The foregoing disclosure of specific
embodiments is intended to be illustrative
of the broad concepts comprehended
by the invention.
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