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United States Patent 3,702,113
Blockley November 7, 1972

ELECTRODE APPARATUS FOR EXERCISER HANDLEBAR

Abstract

An electrode apparatus is disclosed for monitoring the condition of the heart while the subject is in the process of exercising. The electrodes are mounted on the handlebar or handrail of the exercise machine and are grasped with the hands to produce the electrical signals corresponding to the functioning of the heart.


Inventors: Blockley; Walter Vincent (Malibu, CA)
Appl. No.: 04/853,233
Filed: August 20, 1969


Current U.S. Class: 600/384 ; 600/520
Current International Class: A61B 5/0404 (20060101); A61B 5/0402 (20060101); A61B 5/22 (20060101); A61b 005/04 ()
Field of Search: 128/2.6E,2.6R,2.11E,2.11R,404-406,411,417,DIG.4,363,364,394 272/69 73/379

References Cited

U.S. Patent Documents
835082 November 1906 Schmidt
2736313 February 1956 Mathison
3395698 August 1968 Morehouse
3450133 June 1969 Birch, Jr.
3518985 July 1970 Quinton
Primary Examiner: Kamm; William E.

Claims



Having thus described the invention, what is claimed is:

1. An apparatus for monitoring the condition of the heart of a person comprising:

an output network;

handgrip means for receiving the hand grasp of a person and for deriving physiological electrical signals from the hands of the person;

means for transmitting said signals to said output network;

an exerciser having a handlebar mounted thereon; and

means for mounting said handgrip means on a handlebar of said exerciser.

2. The invention of claim 1 wherein said handgrip means comprises at least one metal cylinder extending over said handlebar.

3. The invention of claim 2 wherein said mounting means comprises means for insulating said metal cylinder from said handlebar.

4. The invention of claim 3 wherein said insulating means comprises at least one insulative spacer element mounted on said handlebar, said spacer element having shoulder means for supporting said metal cylinder at a spaced relationship with said handlebar.

5. The invention of claim 3 wherein said insulating means includes a pair of spacer elements supporting both ends of said metal cylinder.

6. The invention of claim 5 wherein one of said spacer elements includes an orifice extending therethrough and said means for transmitting said signals to said output network comprises a wire extending through said orifice and connected at one end thereof to said metal cylinder.

7. An apparatus for monitoring the condition of the heart of a person comprising:

an exerciser apparatus having at least one handlebar;

an electrode apparatus having handgrip means for receiving the hand grasp of the person and for deriving physiological electrical signals from the hands of the person;

means for transmitting said signals to an output network; and

means for mounting said handgrip means on said handlebar.

8. The invention of claim 7 wherein said exerciser apparatus is an exercising cycle.

9. The invention of claim 7 wherein said exercising apparatus is an exercising treadmill.

10. The invention of claim 7 wherein said handgrip means comprises at least one metal cylinder extending over said handlebar.

11. The invention of claim 10 wherein said mounting means comprises means for insulating said metal cylinder from said handlebar.

12. The invention of claim 11 wherein said insulating means comprises at least one insulative spacer element mounted on said handlebar, said spacer element having shoulder means for supporting said metal cylinder at a spaced relationship with said handlebar.

13. The invention of claim 12 wherein said mounting means includes a pair of spacer elements supporting both ends of said metal cylinder.

14. The invention of claim 12 wherein one of said spacer elements includes an orifice extending therethrough and said means for transmitting said signals to said output network comprises a wire extending through said orifice and connected at one end thereof to said metal cylinder.

15. The invention of claim 10 wherein said handgrip means further includes a sleeve mounted on said metal cylinder, said sleeve having a highly conductive substance deposited thereon.

16. The invention of claim 15 wherein said sleeve is made of a cellular material and said substance is a liquid stored in the cells of said sleeve.
Description



The present invention relates to electrodes in general and more particularly relates to electrodes adapted for easy contact with the human body.

As is well known, electrodes are used to detect the electrical activity of the heart for purposes of analyzing its electrical pattern (electrocardiogram) or of measuring the rate of its beat (cardiotachometer). Typical of the electrodes in the prior art are metallic plates which are strapped to various parts of the body while the subject lies in a reclining position, with some kind of conductive paste or gel applied to the skin under the plate. Another more recently developed form is a miniature metallic cup which is affixed to the skin by adhesive, after preparation of the skin site, again with conductive paste or gel as the conductive medium between electrode and skin. In even newer forms of electrodes the skin site is prepared and then coated with a mixture of metallic dust and adhesive with a wire imbedded therein, thus eliminating the paste or gel component.

The foregoing techniques for acquiring electrical information about the heart from the skin surface are suitable and satisfactory in the context of a medical examination or in the case of a patient or experimental subject undergoing a medically supervised treatment. These methods are quite unsatisfactory, however, as a means of routinely and continuously monitoring the heart beat rate during exercise in the home, in a gymnasium or outdoors.

While most authorities advise that the continuous monitoring of the heart rate during exercise is the most positive and reliable way of preventing overexertion and ensuring maximum benefits from the exercise, widespread adoption of this advice has been blocked by the inconvenience and discomfort associated with applying conventional electrodes in conventional ways. The clothing has to be removed, at least partially, the skin has to be cleaned and abraded and the small electrodes with their attaching means have to be prepared, manipulated and applied, all of which is awkward, time consuming, and sometimes painful for a person to do for himself. Upon completion of the monitoring period the electrodes have to be removed again, and the messy residue of jelly or paste has to be wiped off the body before the clothes can be redonned.

The net result of the foregoing difficulties is that the individual is discouraged from utilizing the benefits of heart-rate guidance and information in controlling and adjusting his exercise regimen. Accordingly, for the many reasons mentioned, there has been a long-felt need for a new and better electrode arrangement for detecting the heart beat which would entail no preparation, no clean-up afterwards, and no abrasion of the skin.

It is, therefore, an object of the present invention to provide electrodes for use in monitoring the heart rate which can be grasped in the user's hands.

It is another object of the present invention to provide hand-held electrodes for use in monitoring the heart rate that can be used while the user is undertaking exercise.

It is an additional object of the present invention to provide hand-gripped electrodes which can be made integral with and a part of the handles, rails or other graspable parts of various exercise machines and devices, in particular cycle exercisers.

It is a further object of the present invention to provide electrodes that are easily transportable and instantly useable, without preliminary preparations of the subject for the measurement of heart rate in conjunction with many different kinds of monitoring devices.

It is still another object of the present invention to provide electrodes which, when combined with a portable metering device, permits the determination of heart rate in a large number of individuals in a short space of time by a single unskilled operator who may quickly pass from one subject to the next, spending a few seconds only on each measurement.

The novel features which are believed to be characteristic of the invention, both as to its organization and method of operation, together with further objects and advantages thereof, will be better understood from the following description considered in connection with the accompanying drawing in which an embodiment of the invention is illustrated by way of example. It is to be expressly understood, however, that the drawing is for the purpose of illustration and description only and is not intended as a definition of the limits of the invention.

FIG. 1 illustrates the use of a pair of electrodes according to the present invention on the handlebar of a bicycle exerciser;

FIG. 2 is a side view, in cross-section, of one of the handlebar's electrodes shown in FIG. 1;

FIG. 3 illustrates the use of a pair of these electrodes mounted on the handrail of a treadmill exerciser machine; and

FIG. 4 illustrates one possible modification to the FIG. 2 electrode, only a small cross-sectional portion being deemed necessary to effectively illustrate this modification.

For a consideration of the invention in detail, reference is now made to the drawing wherein like or similar parts or elements are given like or similar designations in the several figures. In FIG. 1, there is shown the FIG. 10 of a human being sitting on and operating a bicycle exerciser, generally designated 11. Exerciser 11 obviously includes a handlebar 11a, on the two extremities of which are respectively mounted a pair of electrodes 12a and 12b, the person using this bicycle exerciser respectively electrically connected by means of a pair of wires 13a and 13b to an output network 14 which may, for example, be a cardiotachometer or pulse meter, an oscilloscope, an electrocardiograph or any other device or instrument for monitoring heart rate or the electrical activity of the heart.

An enlarged side view, in cross-section, of one of the electrode arrangements shown in FIG. 1, for example electrode 12a, is illustrated in FIG. 2 and, as shown therein, the arrangement comprises the handlebar 11a, the electrode itself, 12a, and a pair of insulative spacer elements 15 and 16. More particularly, as is customarily the situation, electrode 12a is a cylindrical bar of metal, such as steel, and is hollow so that it can fit over the handlebar. Accordingly, in order to space and insulate the electrode from the handlebar, insulative spacer elements 15 and 16 are respectively inserted at opposite ends of the electrode and it should be mentioned that these elements not only insulate and space the electrode from the handlebar, but also serve to rigidly mount the electrode on the handlebar. Toward this end, elements 15 and 16 respectively include lips 15a and 16a whose outside diameter is substantially equal to the inside diameter of electrode 12a, the diameter of these lips being such that the ends of the electrode will fit snugly over them.

As may also be seen from FIG. 2, element 16 has an opening that goes completely through it, the diameter of this opening, which is designated 16b, being such as to permit the handlebar to extend through it in a snug fit.

Element 15, on the other hand, has only a circular recess 15b in its lip 15a, the diameter of this recess being such as to permit the end of the handlebar to fit snugly into it and be held in place. Thus, elements 15 and 16 both fit snugly on the handlebar, the electrode, in turn, fitting snugly on the elements, with the result that the electrode is firmly mounted over the handlebar and electrically insulated from it. Finally, element 16 also has the orifice through it designated 16c, the orifice being of small diameter but large enough to permit a wire 17 to pass through it, the wire 17 being electrically connected at one end thereof to electrode 12a and electrically connected at the other end thereof to a connector 18 by means of which the electrode may be electrically connected to some external heart-monitoring system, such as output network 14 in FIG. 1. A heart-monitoring system particularly adapted for the electrode arrangement shown in FIG. 1 is described in the U.S. Pat. application Ser. No. 763,122, filed Sept. 27, 1968, entitled "Heart Rate Sensor Device." To illustrate this point, a jack 19 is shown inserted in connector 18, the wire 13a extending from the jack to the network.

When in use, the person on the bicycle exercisor merely grasps the electrodes in the same manner as he would the handlebar, the electrical signals derived thereby being fed via wires 13a and 13b to network 14. While this handlebar-electrode arrangement is normally satisfactory in producing useful signals, there may be times, however, when the signals are too weak to be of value as, for example, when the palms of the user are quite dry, thereby resulting in poor electrical conductivity and electrical contact between the two. Such a condition can be overcome in the manner shown in FIG. 3 wherein although only a small portion of a handlebar-electrode arrangement is shown, it is nevertheless considered sufficient to illustrate the modification contemplated. More particularly, the handlebar-electrode arrangement of FIG. 3 is the same in every respect as that in FIG. 2 but with one addition, namely, a sleeve 20 is slipped over and covers electrode 12a, the sleeve being constructed of a porous or spongy type of material and containing a substance that provides good electrical conductivity, such as saline solution. The electrically conductive substance is stored in the pores or cells of the sleeve material and wets the palms of the hands as well as the electrode when grasped and, therefore, squeezed with the hands, with the result that the desired degree of electrical contact is thereby provided.

It was previously mentioned that electrodes according to the present invention could be used in connection with a variety of exerciser machines, including a treadmill, and this fact is illustrated in FIG. 4 wherein a treadmill exerciser, generally designated 21 is shown. At the front of the machine is the customary handrail 21a supplied and used with it, and mounted on the handrail-type handlebar are the electrode devices 12a and 12b. The electrode devices are mounted on this handrail in the same manner illustrated in FIG. 2, except for one slight difference, namely, insulative spacer element 15 also has an opening completely through it just as does element 16, this being necessitated by the fact that the handrail doesn't end at the electrode as in the case of the handlebar of FIG. 1, but, rather, continues on. Aside from this, the construction, mounting and use is the same. It should also be mentioned that the modification illustrated and described in connection with FIG. 3 may also be applied here.

Although a couple of arrangements of the present invention have been illustrated and described herein, it is to be understood and recognized that this has been done by way of example and, therefore, that the invention is not to be limited thereto or restricted thereby. Accordingly, the present invention includes all modifications and variations that come within the scope of the annexed claims:

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