Patent application title: MULTI-FUNCTIONAL THERAPY POOLAANM SULLIVAN; KIRKAACI LakelandAAST FLAACO USAAGP SULLIVAN; KIRK Lakeland FL US
Kirk Sullivan (Lakeland, FL, US)
IPC8 Class: AE04H400FI
Class name: Baths, closets, sinks, and spittoons pool type construction details
Publication date: 2013-01-17
Patent application number: 20130014321
A multi-functional therapy pool for use in physical rehabilitation,
strengthening exercises and recreational purposes. The multi-functional
therapy pool preferably has a generally rectangular shape wherein one
side of the pool is provided with patient entry means and a seating area
adjacent thereto. The remaining three sides of the pool are preferably
provided with a continuous overflow gutter formed upon the upper
periphery that is operative to catch splashes and minimize waves during
physical activity within the pool. A number of therapeutic modalities
will further be integrated within the pool, including spa jets,
integrated underwater treadmill, and specialized hand rails to facilitate
access in and out of the pool.
1. A multi-functional therapy pool comprising: a pool body defining a
pool interior, said pool interior comprising a pool floor having a
uniform depth; access means to enable individuals to access and exit the
interior of said pool body; and a peripheral edge extending about a
portion of the perimeter of the pool body, said peripheral edge having an
overflow gutter formed thereupon, said overflow gutter being operative to
receive waves and splashes thereupon.
2. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 1 wherein said interior of said pool body includes at least one seating portion.
3. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 2 wherein said pool is provided with at least one hydro-jet formed upon said seating area.
4. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 1 wherein said access means comprises a series of steps or a ramp.
5. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 4 wherein said access means is provided with at least one set of handrails.
6. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 1 wherein said pool body is formed as a unitary fiberglass pool structure.
7. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 1 further comprising an underwater treadmill disposed upon said pool floor of said pool body.
8. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 7 wherein said treadmill is provided with at least one handrail.
9. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 5 wherein said handrails comprise dual width handrails defining dissimilar widths.
10. The multi-functional therapy pool of claim 6 wherein said pool body is formed to have a generally rectangular shape wherein one side of said generally rectangular pool body provides said access means and said overflow gutter is formed on the upper peripheral edge of the three remaining sidewall portions of said generally rectangular pool body.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
Statement Re: Federally Sponsored Research/Development
 Not Applicable
 The present invention is directed to a multi-functional therapy pool that is specifically designed and configured for use in physical rehabilitation, strengthening exercises and general recreation purposes that is significantly more advanced than conventional swimming pool design.
 Swimming pools are well-known in the art. Generally, swimming pools can take a variety of shapes and sizes, and may be designed for a wide range of purposes. In this regard, pools can range from small spas and current pools that are operative to fit no more than one to two swimmers at a time to architecturally-designed pools having complex depths, designs, and water features that sprawl across the most luxurious of resorts. With respect to standardized pools, the same can likewise vary greatly from small wading pools to Olympic-sized swimming pools, the latter being regarded as the largest and deepest of standard pool sizes.
 Swimming pool construction is also well-known in the art and may likewise take a variety of forms. In this regard, pools can either be built above or in the ground, and from materials such as concrete, and more particularly gunite, metal, plastic or fiberglass. With respect to in-ground pools, it is common to typically incorporate structures such as ledges, seats, steps and the like to provide support structures to enable people to access and exit the pool, as well as to remain in seated or reclined positions. There is likewise typically provide a change in depth across the length of the pool, and more particularly, at least one shallow portion or "end" to enable individuals to stand such that the head and shoulders extend above the water's surface, and a deep portion or end that is provided to accommodate diving, jumping and the like so as to provide enough depth of water to thus avoid impact between the swimmer and the bottom of the pool surface.
 Notwithstanding the tremendous variation in sizes and shapes of conventional pools, it is well-accepted in the fields of strength training and rehabilitation medicine that hydrotherapy is an exceptionally effective tool in injury recovery, as well as strength and endurance training. In this regard, trained physical therapists and rehabilitation specialists often prescribe underwater pool exercises as a low-impact method of developing or rebuilding muscle strength. In this regard, the buoyancy experience during pool immersion helps ease pain and a variety of conditions, such as arthritis and accident/combat injuries.
 Despite the well-known advantages of hydrotherapy, the use of most conventional pools is ill-suited to that end. In this regard, conventional swimming pool design, and in particular conventional in-ground recreational pools, only provides a limited shallow area that is actually usable for hydrotherapy and rehabilitation purposes. The "deep end" of such pools in not only impractical to perform a majority of rehabilitation exercises and activities, but also poses a risk of drowning as most recreational pools have a gradual transition from shallow to deeper portions that pose a risk that frail or non-ambulatory individuals may drown. Likewise, most conventional pools do not provide easily accessible steps or structures that readily allow hydrotherapy patients to get in and out of the hydrotherapy pool, and much less seating accommodations specifically designed for use with hydrotherapy patients.
 Still further, most conventional pool design does not provide for any mechanism to provide for systematic hydrotherapy training or rehabilitation regimens, and in particular specific types of activities such as jogging or aerobic exercises that enable the rebuilding and strengthening of muscle and increase in range of motion and flexibility to take place in the low-impact, underwater environment. Specifically, most conventional pool designs suffer from two distinct disadvantages in this regard, namely: 1) the therapy pool is not provided with any type of specialized equipment, such as treadmills and the like, that can enable such aerobic activity to be conducted in the underwater environment; and 2) there is no mechanism by which the inevitable splashing and waves produced as a result of doing such aerobic exercise activity is suppressed or otherwise minimized to thus minimize disruption and enable any such physical activity, whether it be rehabilitation procedures or strength training, to be conducted in a continuous and uniform pool environment. In this regard, excessive splashing, waves or "choppiness" within the pool can detract from and even thwart use of the therapy pool.
 Accordingly, there is a substantial need in the art for a therapy pool, and in particular a multi-functional therapy pool that is specifically designed and configured to provide an optimum hydrotherapy environment whereby patients and pool users have exceptionally easy ingress and egress in and out of the pool, and further can be utilized to conduct a wide variety of exercise activities that has not been heretofore available. There is likewise a substantial need in the art for a multi-functional therapy pool that can accommodate specific types of training equipment, such as a treadmill and the like, to thus enable the pool to be utilized for a wide variety of exercises and is likewise provided with safeguard means to minimize splashing or wave-inducing activity so that any such activity conducted in the pool has a minimally disruptive effect. There is likewise a need for such a multi-functional therapy pool that can be readily fabricated from existing building materials, is space efficient, may be adapted for a wide variety of hydrotherapy applications, and substantially minimizes risk of injury or drowning compared to conventional swimming pool designs.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
 The present invention specifically addresses and alleviates the above-identified deficiencies in the art. In this regard, the present invention is directed to a multi-functional therapy pool that is specifically sized and configured to provide easy accessibility to patients, swimmers, physical therapists and the like that further enables a multiplicity of exercises and strengthening/rehabilitation procedures to be easily and readily performed. The multi-functional therapy pool is likewise designed to minimize disruption by waves, splashing and the like while also providing substantial comfort and reducing risk or injury and/or drowning.
 According to a preferred embodiment, the multi-functional therapy pool is designed to have a uniform, shallow depth to thus enable most individuals to stand with their heads above water. Ideally, the depth of the pool should be approximately four feet although greater or lesser depths may be utilized as may be desired. The pool is further defined by an upper periphery having a portion thereof that is provided with ingress/egress access means, which may take the form of conventional stairs or ramps. The multi-functional therapy pool is likewise preferably provided with one or more structures, such as ledges and the like, to enable one or more individuals to sit within the pool, as may be necessary to take breaks between exercises and procedures or for just general relaxation. The remainder of the periphery formed about the pool is preferably provided with a overflow gutter that essentially provides two purposes: namely 1) to provide general filtering and recirculation of the pool water; and 2) catch splashes, waves and the like so as to minimize disruptive water movements while exercises and procedures are being performed within the pool. The latter aspect is particularly advantageous insofar as the overflow gutter is operative to absorb wave energy that would otherwise be disruptive, annoying or even threatening to other individuals in the pool engaged in hydrotherapy activity, and especially geriatrics and/or non-ambulatory individuals.
 The multi-functional therapy pool is further provided with one or more devices, structures or machines operative to perform one or more exercises, procedures or the like. In this regard, the therapy pool will be designed and configured for use with any of a wide variety of exercise and physical rehabilitation equipment, such as weights, elastic bands, bars, hand rails and the like. Along those lines, it is expressly contemplated that the multi-functional therapy pool may be designed for circuit training to thus enable a multiplicity of individuals to perform a variety of exercises simultaneously. It is further expressly contemplated that one or more dual direct drive underwater treadmills will be provided with hand rails to thus enable treadmill-exercises to be performed within the pool in a low impact manner.
 As is further contemplated, and per conventional spa design, the multi-functional therapy pool may be provided with jets and/or hydro-massage chairs and the like that may be adapted to serve as a patient waiting area. In a preferred embodiment, the multi-functional therapy pool will be formed to have a generally rectangular shape whereby one side of the pool will be provided with steps, ramp and the like with hand rails to enable individuals to easily enter and exit the pool with the remaining three sides having a periphery defining the aforementioned overflow gutter. To that end, it is contemplated that dual width handrails may be provided to accommodate the needs of certain individuals. It is likewise contemplated that the multi-functional therapy pool may be constructed per conventional swimming pools, whether above ground or in ground, as well as may be fabricated from conventional building materials. Along those lines, it is believed that forming the multi-functional therapy pool as a molded piece of fiberglass is optimal. It is further expressly contemplated that the multi-functional therapy pool will have a prefabricated surge tank and plumbing that may be readily manufactured as part of the unitary fiberglass pool shell structure to thus dramatically simplify and expedite pool installation and operation.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
 These and other features and advantages of the various embodiments disclosed herein will be better understood with respect to the following description and drawings, in which like numbers refer to like parts throughout, and in which:
 FIG. 1 is an elevated, perspective view of a multi-functional therapy pool constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention.
 FIG. 2 is a cross-sectional view of the multi-functional therapy pool of FIG. 1 showing an individual, partially submerged, running upon a treadmill disposed within the multi-functional therapy pool.
 FIG. 3 is a top view of the multi-functional therapy pool of FIGS. 1 and 2.
 The detailed description set forth below in connection with the appended drawings is intended as a description of certain embodiments of the present disclosure, and is not intended to represent the only forms that may be developed or utilized. The description sets forth the various functions in connection with the illustrated embodiments, but it is to be understood, however, that the same or equivalent functions may be accomplished by different embodiments that are also intended to be encompassed within the scope of the present disclosure. It is further understood that the use of relational terms such as first and second and the like are used solely to distinguish one entity from another without necessarily requiring or implying any actual such relationship or order between such entities.
 Referring now to the drawings, and initially to FIG. 1, there is perspectively illustrated a multi-functional therapy pool 10 constructed in accordance with a preferred embodiment of the present invention. As illustrated, the pool 10 comprises a pool body 12 having a generally rectangular configuration defined by side wall portions and a pool floor 14. With respect to the latter, pool floor 14 will preferably be configured to have a uniform depth as shown in FIG. 2, and generally formed to be shallow in nature to thus enable individuals to freely stand thereupon so, at a minimum, their heads and shoulders extend above the water's surface. An exemplary depth would be approximately four feet, although greater or lesser depths, such as three feet to five feet, may be selected depending on the specific applications and any unique characteristics of the population for which the multi-functional therapy pool 10 will target.
 Formed upon the periphery of pool body 12 is an entry area 16 that is provided with structures, such as a ramp or steps 18 as shown, to enable the interior of the pool body 12 to be readily and easily accessed. To further achieve that end, it is contemplated that hand rails, such as those shown in FIG. 1, will be integrated with ramp or steps 18 to thus provide means for individuals to grasp as they enter and exit the pool body 12. In a more highly refined embodiment, as further illustrated in each of FIGS. 1-3 such hand rail portions will be formed such that two sets of hand rails are provided, namely, a narrow set of rails and a wider set of rails to thus accommodate individuals with narrow or wider grasps. Such rail portions may take any of a variety of forms well-known in the art, and may include plastic rails, aluminum rails or the like.
 Further preferably formed upon pool body 12 is a seating portion, such as 20, that enables individuals to sit and rest within the pool, whether it be for recreational purposes or between exercises, physical rehabilitation procedures and the like. Also, although not shown, it is further expressly contemplated that pool body 12 may be provided with one or more therapeutic spa jets per conventional spa design and readily known and understood by those skilled in the art. In this regard, it will be readily appreciated and acknowledged that seating area 20 may be specifically configured as one or more hydro-massage chairs and operative to define a patient waiting area within the pool during hydrotherapy sessions.
 Formed around the remainder of the periphery of pool body 12 and abutting opposed ends of entry area 16 is a continuous overflow gutter 22 that is preferably integrally formed as part of the pool body 12 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 3. Advantageously, overflow gutter 22 is operative to act as a catch or spill over basin for any type of waves or splashing that occurs within the pool body 12. Preferably, and as shown, the overflow gutter 22 will extend about the three remaining sides of the generally rectangular pool body 12 which, in use, will be operative to catch and disperse any waves or wave energy transferred across the pool during physical activity within the pool for which the therapy pool 10 is designed. As a consequence, the therapy pool 10 of the present invention is exceptionally effective in mitigating, if not eliminating, unwanted splashes and waves which may be annoying, distracting or even threatening to certain individuals using the therapy pool 10, such as geriatrics and non-ambulatory individuals, that has not heretofore been available per conventional swimming pool design.
 The therapy pool 10 will further preferably incorporate or be used in conjunction with any of a variety of conventional exercise and/or physical therapy equipment, such as weights, pulleys, elastic bands or any of a wide variety of resistance training apparatus known and utilized in the art. Along those lines, it is expressly contemplated that the therapy pool 10 may be designed for use with any of a variety or combinations of exercise equipment positionable about and/or within the pool 10 to thus enable the therapy pool 10 to be utilized for circuit training whereby various exercise stations are provided that selectively target a particular exercise and enable multiple individuals to complete a workout regimen in a systematic and orderly fashion. Advantageously, however, the circuit training can be conducted within a pool environment that has typically not heretofore been available due in part to the continuous overflow gutter 22 that is operative to minimize waves, splashes and the like to thus enable circuit training to be conducted in a hydrotherapy environment in a much more systematic and effective way than prior art pool design.
 As an example of the types of therapeutic modalities that may be incorporated within pool body 12 include an underwater treadmill, such as 26. Preferably, the hydrotherapy pool 10 will be provided with at least one, if not two or more dual direct drive underwater treadmills 26, which are commercially available and well-known in the art. Exemplary of such underwater treadmills, also known as aquatic treadmills, include those produced by Hydroworx of Middletown, Pa. and Swimex of Fall River, Mass. Numerous other manufacturers of underwater treadmills and underwater treadmill design would be readily understood and easily ascertainable by one skilled in the art.
 Per conventional treadmill design, the treadmill 26 is provided with a treadmill belt that is operative to rotate in a manner that enables an individual, such as 30 depicted in FIG. 2 standing thereon to simulate a jogging or walking motion while staying in place. To facilitate the ability of the individual 30 to engage in such activity, one or more handrails, such as 28, may be provided for support. Advantageously, the incorporation of an underwater treadmill 26 by virtue of being positioned within the general center of pool bottom 14 as shown in FIG. 3, enables an exceptionally low-impact aerobic exercise activity to be performed while at the same time enabling the remainder of the pool body 12 to be utilized for other physical training, exercise and/or rehabilitation activities. Although disposed generally within the center of pool floor 14, it is understood that one or more treadmills 26 can be positioned in any of a variety of configurations well-known to those skilled in the art.
 With respect to the construction of the multi-functional therapy pool 10 of the present invention, it will be readily understood and appreciated that the same may be fabricated from any of a wide variety of conventional materials. Exemplary of such materials include concrete (i.e., gunite), metal, plastic and the like, and further may be designed as either an above-ground or in-ground pool. Preferably, the multi-functional therapy pool 10 will be fabricated from fiberglass as a unitary fiberglass pool body structure. Fiberglass pools and their construction are well-known and readily understood by those of ordinary skill in the art, and essentially involve the creation of a mold within which the pool body 12 is cast and formed. Exemplary of such fiberglass pools and the manner in which they are constructed are offered by San Juan Products, Inc. of Lakeland, Fla. Among the various advantages associated with fiberglass pools include the exceptionally greater strength and more durable nature of the fiberglass material, the reduced use of chemicals to maintain ideal pool water conditions, and the ability of fiberglass pools to flex and withstand ground movement, unlike gunite pools and the like.
 Along those lines, although not shown, it is expressly contemplated that the multi-functional therapy pool 10 will preferably be provided with a prefabricated surge tank and plumbing as part of the fiberglass body design, which in turn will greatly enhance the ease of installation, as well as expedite usage of the therapy pool 10. Also, fabricating the pool body 12 from fiberglass enables any of a variety of ports, outlets and the like to be formed anywhere upon the pool body 12, as may be desired for any of a variety of applications, whether it be spa jets, to run connections, serve as attachment points or the like.
 Additional modifications and improvements of the present invention may also be apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art. Thus, the particular combination of parts and steps described and illustrated herein is intended to represent only certain embodiments of the present invention, and is not intended to serve as limitations of alternative devices and methods within the spirit and scope of the invention. Along those lines, although depicted in FIG. 1 as having a generally rectangular shape whereby entry section 16 is provided with both pool access means and a seating area with the periphery of the three remaining side portions defined by overflow gutter 22, it will be understood that a wide variety of pool configurations may be provided, such as circular, oval, kidney, hourglass and the like. It is contemplated that in all such embodiments, however, that but for the pool access means and/or pool seating area, the periphery will preferably be provided with the overflow gutter, such as 22, to the greatest extent possible to thus mitigate, if not eliminate, splashing or wave generating activity that would otherwise be operative to disrupt the physical activity within the pool for which the multi-functional therapy pool 10 is designed.
Patent applications by Kirk Sullivan, Lakeland, FL US
Patent applications in class Construction details
Patent applications in all subclasses Construction details