Check Google Patent search or USPTO.gov for patent 375488 (Jan, 1888) or similar patent 2140275 (Dec., 1938) for complete information.
This toy walks the way my dad (who was handicapped) walked -- by rocking back and forth and moving the off-weighted leg forward. He had very little strength in one leg but managed by this means to walk.
I've just assembled the supplies I think I need to scale this toy up to larger-than-life size. The idea is that a person could be the payload of a device that could walk on its own -- downhill. If the user has arm strength, he could probably get it to walk on the level.
To date, this idea is completely untested. I have no interest or intent in marketing such a device. If I attain any success with this, I'd probably just post drawings of the thing so others could try it on their own. I would not consider it anything BUT a TOY (the way stilts are a toy) -- and definitely NOT a medical device.
I am wondering whether physically fit persons with limited use of their legs might be interested in such a toy.
The scale-up of the walking toy is progressing -- on the drawing board.
However, I've run into a hitch and could use some input.
There must be some means to harness the user to the walking toy. Some sort of suspension harness will be needed. If the user is not handicapped, this is trivial, but if he is handicapped, it may not be at all trivial.
The problem is that commonly available safety harnesses (for falls at construction sites or from hunting platforms) provide support mainly by two straps that run around the tops of the thighs. These are fine for catching a person in a fall, but are NOT safe for prolonged suspension. No doubt, they'd be okay for a few minutes at a time, so I plan to continue for now with some harness like these. But I'd like to come up with some harness that could be used for prolonged periods without risk of injuring the user.
There is a lot of information on the Internet about harnesses. Focusing in on harnesses for the handicapped, these seem (from my limited perusal) to fall into two categories -- harnesses for physical therapy use, and lifting slings. The former probably have the same limitations for usage duration as do fall harnesses. The latter might not, but they all seem to be designed like playground swings -- the user in a seated position with a wide strap under him and another behind him (and possibly other straps to prevent his slipping out of the sling.
In principal, such a sling could be used with the walking toy, and might prove to be the solution. However, I'd really like a sling that allows the user to stand vertically and NOT be seated. (From a design standpoint this would be to keep the center of gravity low.)
The safety harnesses I've obtained have a simple means to render them safer. The scenario is that a person falls and is caught by his harness, but then must await rescue. Since rescue might be slow to come, a special strap is supplied that the user ties between loops at hip level from one side to the other -- and under the feet. He is instructed to adjust this strap so he can stand on it. Hence, his weight will then be on his feet, off-weighting the hip straps that would otherwise support him in the harness. That's fine for a person who is not disabled, but might not be at all useful for a person without strength in or control of his legs.
So one question is whether it might be feasible to build some sort of hip and knee braces into the harness. (Unlike fall harnesses, the harness for this toy will include some sort of rigid frame, so such braces could be connected to that.) I'm envisioning crutch-like "legs" that strap to the user's legs such that his knees could not bend and only minimal motion would be possible at the hips. Key to this idea is that the user's weight could then be on the bottom of his foot, without the possibility of the knees buckling or the hips bending significantly.
Does this seem feasible? Might there already be some device "out there" that accomplishes this same end somehow?
Once again I want to emphasize that what I'm trying to do is to scale up a TOY to human size. It will still be a toy (like stilts are a toy), not be a medical device. It would be only for the amusement of the user. My concern here is to make it as safe as possible for anyone to use.
Man! Talk about an idea that's obvious in retrospect: Locate feet, front of knees and butt with pads or straps and a paraplegic can stand!
So, now I see two approaches. The simpler would be a rigid structure that acts as a standing frame for for a paraplegic and is the payload for the walking toy.
But what intrigues me is the possibility of making a "split" standing frame -- essentially one for each leg. The feet would be located on the tops of the "feet" of the walking toy, and the front of each knee would be up against a pad that would move with the feet of the walking toy. Hence, the user would actually be walking along with the toy, not just riding as a payload.
It might take some additional mechanism, but what would be ideal is if the user's feet would flex during the walking, as per a normal human walk. The reason this could matter is because there's a mass of veins between the tarsals and the plantar ligament of the foot. During a normal walk, these veins are constricted and released, literally pumping the blood back up the leg. This is one of the reasons walking is so good for you. It is also the reason that a traffic cop will rock front and back on his feet while standing, as this emulates the motions of walking and pumps blood. The only other way to return blood from the feet to the body is to raise the legs. What I'm driving at is that, so constructed, this walking toy could not only be for amusement, but for beneficial exercise. (It remains a toy, nonetheless.)
The scale-up is STILL only on the drawing board, but now is a good deal closer to actualization.
You're forgetting that I'm doing this for fun. When it's fun, it's not work. Right now my mind is engaged with the problem of how to make the "feet", which (for the prototype) I'm aiming to make from 2x12 lumber or the like. Somehow I have to finish the bottom sides of these to conform to a convex spherical arc of radius roughly six feet. I've thought of at least three ways to accomplish this, but have yet to test them. It's a challenge and I like challenges.
Besides, I'm trying to build a toy, not a paraplegic walker. I'm only wondering whether it could be used by a paraplegic, and so am aiming in that direction. Even if there be no practical application for this toy, I'd probably still be working on it.
But thanks for the tip about braces and walkers. I found a number of YouTube videos showing folks in braces walking with walkers or crutches. Whatever success I might have with this toy, I don't feel it would replace such medially approved devices. For one thing, I don't foresee that it could ever climb stairs -- a ramp, possibly, but not stairs. And those crutch + braces videos show folks climbing stairs. (I'm not sure from the videos how much disability the folks have. It seems to me one must have muscular control of the hip joints to climb stairs. Am I wrong?)
However it just might prove to allow "walking" without the constant use of the hands. If that proved true, then maybe someone would invest the time and money to turn it into a medically approved device. (But that's not for me.)