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1. WO2020140113 - IMPROVED SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR IMPLEMENTING A SUSPENDED PERSONAL RADIATION PROTECTION SYSTEM

Note: Text based on automatic Optical Character Recognition processes. Please use the PDF version for legal matters

[ EN ]

IMPROVED SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR IMPLEMENTING A SUSPENDED PERSONAL RADIATION PROTECTION SYSTEM CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application claims priority on U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 62/785,814, filed December 28, 2018 and entitled System and Method for Implementing a Suspended Personal Radiation Protection System, the entirety of which is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates in general to the field of personal radiation protection. More particularly, the present invention relates to personal radiation protection of clinicians and researchers performing tests and procedures employing radiation. Specifically, a preferred embodiment of the present invention relates to an improved system and method for implementing a suspended personal radiation protection system.

2. Discussion of the Related Art

Radiation is used to perform many medical diagnostic and therapeutic tests and procedures. Medical, veterinary, or research personnel may be involved in the performance of such procedures in great numbers and over many years, and these individuals are being exposed to scattered radiation as they perform their work. Although the specific long-term effects are not fully understood at the present time, it is generally accepted that prolonged exposure to radiation is serious enough to warrant mandatory protection to operators in the form of garments or barriers containing materials that absorb a significant proportion of the radiation.

While it is certainly a priority to provide adequate radiation protection in light of the concerns outlined above, in order to properly treat patients, operators require a freedom of motion. Providing a personal radiation protection garment that properly protects operators, while allowing operators to move freely and

comfortably presents a significant challenge for medical operators in radiation environments.

A number of the issues described above were largely alleviated with the introduction of the system and drape shown in U.S. Patent Nos. 7,608,847; 8,198,616; 7,973,229; 8,558,204; 8,598,554; 8,207,516; and 8,933,426, which are incorporated herein by reference in their entirety. However, further improvements are desired.

What is therefore needed is an improved radiation protection system that overcomes at least some of the issues outlined above. What is further needed is an improved radiation protection system that can be suspended in order to allow an operator to move freely about an operating room to perform the desired procedure. What is also needed is a radiation protection system having various accessories to optimize operation of the radiation protection system.

SUMMARY AND OBJECTS OF THF INVENTION

By way of summary, the present invention is directed to an improved method, an improved system, and an improved apparatus for implementing a suspended personal radiation protection garment ensemble, which substantially eliminates or reduces the disadvantages and problems associated with previous systems, methods, and apparatuses.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, an improved method provides an ensemble that substantially covers and protects a portion of the operator's body from radiation. The ensemble is suspended from a suspension component that provides a multi-axis range of motion. The ensemble may be configured to engage with a drape component. The ensemble may include a head shield supported by the suspension component that protects at least a portion of the operator's head from radiation. The suspension component may comprise an overhead structure affixed to a vertical support. Removable attachment of the suspension component to the vertical support may be by means of an adaptor

mechanically connected to a mounting plate. The vertical support may be a wall or other structural component of a work space

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the suspension component may be placed over a work area by means of a vertical element supported by a floor pedestal. The suspension component may be attached to the vertical element by means of the mounting plate. The floor pedestal may be mobile and the control of movement of the floor pedestal may be provided by a combination of operator generated commands and autonomous commands generated by a mobile floor pedestal sensor and control module.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, the suspension component may be affixed on a horizontal surface by a wall mounting plate that is removably connected to the overhead structure by an adapter and supported by a floor pedestal. For instance, the suspension component may be mounted on a horizontal surface by a wall mounting plate that is removably connected to the overhead structure by an adaptor and supported by a floor pedestal, where the floor pedestal is mobile and control of movement of the floor pedestal is provided by a combination of operator generated commands and autonomous commands generated by a mobile floor pedestal sensor and control module. Additionally, the suspension component may include a horizontal structure that mechanically connects to a vertical mounting plate. This may be achieved using fasteners.

In accordance with a further aspect of the present invention, an improved suspended personal radiation protection system may include a garment, head shield, and a face shield supported by a suspension component that may be flexibly mounted to a vertical support. The improved suspended personal radiation protection system may incorporate a wheeled suspension component that includes control, power, and sensor modules. The movement of the system by means of the wheeled support component may be controlled via operator accessible input controls located on the ensemble or automated control located on the suspension component or a combination of operator and autonomous controls.

The sensor module may include networked sensors and displays that may be integrated with the ensemble and suspension component to monitor radiation exposure, motion, and task related information and provide information to the operator and external receivers via computers and displays integral or external to the system. Additionally, the suspension component may incorporate a power and mobility component that enables self-propelled movement of the garment. Further still, the system may include a seat that is suspended from the suspension component and configured for an operator to sit on during an operating procedure.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, an improved suspended personal radiation protection apparatus may include an ensemble component comprising a garment, a head shield, and a face shield where the radiation protection ensemble may be suspended from a suspension component. The face shield may be removably attached to and independently operable from the head shield. The face shield may be formed or coated to resist damage and prevent glare or reflection in the field of view of the operator. The apparatus may include a display of task related information that is presented to the operator on the face shield. The suspension component of the apparatus may incorporate a swivel that mechanically connects the cable supporting the ensemble components with an overhead structure. The apparatus may include radiation absorbent material providing the equivalent of at least 1mm of lead at 150 KVp.

Important technical advantages of certain aspects of the present invention include increasing the mobility and flexibility of the structure supporting the weight of the personal radiation protection system and improving the radiation protection and exposure monitoring provided by the personal protection ensemble. Improved radiation protection reduces operator's risk of cancers, cataracts, and skin damage. Increased mobility and flexibility improve the operator’s ability to perform procedures successfully and efficiently while minimizing operator fatigue and physiological impact of the system on the operator.

Other important technical advantages of certain aspects of the present invention include further reducing the risk and incidence of musculoskeletal injuries from wearing heavy radiation protection garments. Operators using the present invention have normal freedom of motion as if the operator is not wearing a heavy material. Furthermore, the present invention allows operator to move about in such a way that the suspension device supports all of the weight of the radiation protection garment such that operators can work long periods without fatigue.

Other technical advantages of the present invention will be readily apparent to one skilled in the art from the following figures, descriptions, and claims. Moreover, while specific advantages have been enumerated above, various embodiments may include all, some, or none of the enumerated advantages.

These, and other aspects and objects of the present invention will be better appreciated and understood when considered in conjunction with the following description and the accompanying drawings. It should be understood, however, that the following description, while indicating preferred embodiments of the present invention, is given by way of illustration and not of limitation. Many changes and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention without departing from the spirit thereof, and the invention includes all such modifications.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

To provide a more complete understanding of the present invention and features and advantages thereof, reference is made to the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying figures, wherein like reference numerals represent like parts, in which:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an improved suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a perspective view of a user within the improved suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 is a rear view of a hanger suspending an improved personal radiation protective ensemble in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a front view of a hanger suspending an improved personal radiation protective ensemble in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a front view of a hanger suspending an improved personal radiation protective ensemble in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a suspension device flexible mounting kit associated with the improved suspended personal radiation protection system;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of the flexible suspension device mounting kit associated with the improved personal radiation protection ensemble;

FIG. 8 is a simplified flowchart that illustrates an example method of the suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a perspective view of a swivel used with the suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of another swivel used with the suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a perspective view of a user within the improved suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with a particular embodiment of the present invention; and

FIG. 12 is a cutaway view of the personal radiation protection system taken about line 12 of FIG. 4.

DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention relates to an improved suspended radiation protection system 10 and method related thereto incorporating an operator 12, an improved suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20, a suspension device 60 and a flexible suspension device mounting kit 120. The improved suspended radiation protection system 10 and method provides substantially greater radiation protection to the operator 12 while increasing the flexibility of the mounting of the suspension device 60 to include wall and floor supported configurations not subject to the limitations found in other suspended radiation barriers. Other architectures and components of system 10 may be used without departing from the scope of this disclosure. FIG. 1 is a perspective of the improved suspended personal radiation protection system 10.

In accordance with the teachings of the present invention, the improved suspended personal radiation protection system 10 achieves an effective way for operators 12 to better protect themselves properly and comfortably from harmful radiation while increasing the mobility of the operator in performing procedures. The ensemble 20 may include a garment 21, a head shield 22, a flap 24, and a face shield 26 that are operable to protect operator from harmful radiation. The suspension device 60 and hanger 75 are operable to suspend the garment 21, head shield 22, flap 24, and face shield 26 such that the operator 12 is not hindered or burdened by the weight from the ensemble 20. The operator 12 is able to freely move around in all three axes while the garment 21, head shield 22, flap 24, and face shield 26 are substantially contoured to the operator's body.

The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 may include a mounting plate 122, a bridge connector 124, and a mobile pedestal mount 125, as seen in FIGS. 1 and 7. The mobile pedestal mount 125 may be a two-wheeled motorized personal vehicle consisting of a platform for the feet mounted above an axle and an upright post surmounted by handles, controlled by the way the operator distributes their weight as shown in FIG. 5. Alternatively, the mobile pedestal mount 125 may be a wheeled device, an automated wheeled device, or a remotely controlled wheeled device. The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 significantly increases the adaptability and mobility of the improved suspended personal radiation protection system 10 by enabling the mounting of the suspension device 60 on a wall or mobile pedestal mount 125. The improved suspended personal radiation protection system 10 allows the operator 12 to have complete freedom of motion commonly used during medical and research procedures. Furthermore, the operator 12 and system 10 can remain sterile while using the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 by utilizing a drape 150.

The system 10 may include an operator seat kit 140 including at least one sling connector 144, and a suspended seat 146 that is supported by the at least one sling connector 144 as shown in FIG. 3. The operator seat kit 140 is attached to the suspension device 60 in the same manner as the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. The operator 12 may, at any point during a procedure, sit on the seat 146 while wearing the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 without any adjustments to the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. Operators 12 may position themselves on the suspended seat 146 to further reduce fatigue and enhance operator endurance and effectiveness during extended or multiple procedures. Details relating to these operations are explained below in relation to FIGS. 1-5.

In general, the ensemble 20 suspends from the hanger 75, which suspends from the suspension device 60. The operator 12 positions himself into the suspended ensemble 20, which may include the garment 21, head shield 22, flap 24, and face shield 26 such that operator 12 is not supporting the weight of the ensemble 20. The operator 12 may alternatively position himself or herself on the suspended seat 146 after donning the ensemble 20. While using radiation 18 to

treat the patient 14, the operator can move freely in the X, Y, and Z spatial planes, such that the ensemble 20 is substantially weightless relative to the operator 12.

The elements of the personal radiation protection ensemble 20 function to protect the operator 12 from radiation 18, both direct and scattered, produced by the radiation source 16. The improved personal radiation protection ensemble 20 embodies improvements that significantly increase the areas of the body shielded from radiation while still maintaining all the benefits derived from the suspension of the ensemble 20 from the suspension device 60. The improved personal radiation protection ensemble 20 substantially protects the entire body of the operator 12, including the head, to a degree not provided by other configurations. The garment 21 is configured with peripheral fasteners 170 as shown in FIG. 12. The peripheral fasteners 170 enable access to the interior of the garment 21. The peripheral fasteners 170 may be one of hook and loop fabric, buckles, snaps, clips, magnets, or any suitable fastening means for attaching two pieces of a heavy material together. Unfastening of the peripheral fasteners 170 enables access to the shielding material 190 enclosed within the garment 21.

The shielding material 190 may be formed from lead or other radiation shielding materials. The shielding material 190 may provide at least 1mm of lead protection from 150 kVp (peak kilovoltage) radiation. Of course, the shielding material 190 could also provide various amounts of lead protection from various amounts of radiation in addition to 1mm of protection from lkVp of radiation. The shielding material 190 may be removed from the garment 21 by unfastening the peripheral fasteners 170. Replacement or improved shielding material 190 may be inserted into the garment 21 as needed.

The garment 21 or ensemble 20 may be integrated with a drape 150. The drape 150 may be formed from a lightweight flexible material. When integrated with the suspended personal radiation protection garment 21 or ensemble 20, the sterile drape 150 prevents contamination of suspended personal radiation protection garment 21 by acting as a barrier between the patient 14 and the

garment 21 or ensemble 20 but does not limit operator 12 freedom of movement. The drape 150 may be disposable or sterilized after use greatly simplifying the effort required to clean and sterilize the garment 21 or ensemble 20.

In another embodiment, the sterile drape may have a fold-up skirt 152. The fold-up skirt 152 may be configured to encompass the lower section of the suspended personal radiation protection garment 21 to prevent soiling of the garment 21. In another embodiment, suspended personal radiation protection garment 21 may be integrated with a sterile drape 150

The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 and face shield 26 may contain radiation-absorbing materials, such that the head shield 22 and face shield 26 attenuate radiation, but the face shield 26 is transparent to visible light allowing the operator unhindered vision. The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 can be heavier and curve or bend around to cover more of the operator's head than traditional radiation protection face shields, because operator 12 does not support the weight of the suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22. The head shield 22 and face shield 26 may fully enclose the head of the operator 12 providing improved protection from both direct and scattered radiation 18. In one embodiment, the head shield 22 may be formed from rigid, radiation absorbent material molded into a shape that fits loosely over the head of the operator 12. In another embodiment, the head shield 22 may be formed from flexible panels of radiation absorbent material supported by a frame 180 or stiffeners 182. The head shield 22 may be attached to and suspended by the hanger 75 with a plurality of ropes or wires or rigid rod systems. The flap 24 may be attached to the head shield by means of fasteners 170 or may be used separately and attached to the garment 21. Both the head shield 22 and face shield 26 may have a coating that improves the durability of the head shield 22 and face shield 26. For instance, a HydroSeal Hydrophobic lens treatment could be applied to one or both of the head shield 22 and face shield 26. Appendix A, which is attached hereto and incorporated herein by reference, provides further information relating to the HydroSeal Hydrophobic coating. This lens treatment could be used in conjunction with a broadband anti-reflective coating. This would result in head shields 22 and face shields 26 that are more durable, cleanable, and scratch resistant.

The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 and face shield 26 may protect the operator 12 from radiation approaching from the front, sides, back, and top of operator's head. In one embodiment, the face shield 26 may be attached to the head shield 22. In another embodiment, the face shield 26 may be used without the head shield 22. In a further embodiment, the face shield 26 may be formed or coated to prevent glare or reflection in the line of sight of the operator 12. In a further embodiment, the face shield 26 may be formed and configured to permit the operator 12 to roll or fold the face shield 26 up or down. In a further embodiment, the operator 12 may adjust the height of the face shield 26. The operator can wear normal corrective optical lenses behind face shield 26. The head shield 22 and face shield 26 may incorporate a head up display 29 wherein information may be displayed to the operator 12 as shown in FIG. 2. Displayed information provided via the head up display 29 may be projected on to the face shield 26 by a head up display computer and projector 30 or may be provided via a miniature monitor. Images to be displayed on the head up display 29 or miniature monitor may be generated by the head up display computer and projector 30 attached to the head shield 26 or hanger 75. Data and images may be transmitted to the head up display computer and projector 30 via cable or wirelessly. Displayed information may include one of hemodynamics, intra vascular ultrasound/ pressure, live fluoroscopy, static images, or any other information related to the medical procedure or operating room. The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 may incorporate provisions 33 for mounting one of a phone, tablet, or external display wherein the phone, table, or external display is visible to the operator and the weight of the phone tablet of external display is borne by the head shield hanger 75, for instance as shown in FIG. 11. The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 suspends from the hanger 75, such that hanger 75 supports the weight of the head shield 22. The suspended personal radiation protection head shield 22 allows the operator to move freely in the X, Y, and Z planes simultaneously, such that operator 12 can move normally as if operator 12 is not wearing a heavy radiation protection head shield 22. Details relating to the suspension device 60 are explained below in reference to FIG. 1. Details relating to the head shield 22 and face shield 26 are explained below in reference to FIG. 2.

In one embodiment, radiation exposure sensors 28 may be removably attached to one or more of the garment 21, the head shield 22, the flap 24, the face shield 26, or the ensemble 20. Radiation exposure sensors 28 may include one of dosimeters, rate meters, or Geiger counters. Output measurements of the radiation exposure sensors 28 may be displayed to the operator 12 in real time via a display incorporated into the head shield 22, via a monitor visible to the operator or remotely to a radiation exposure monitoring system. The output measurements of the radiation exposure sensors may be recorded by the sensors 28 and collected after use radiation exposure sensors 28.

The suspension device 60 incorporates all components end functions of previous embodiments and operates to suspend the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 such that the entire weight of the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 and the operator 12 is borne by the suspension device 60. Specifically, the suspension device 60 may include rails 62, a bridge 64, end trucks 66, a trolley 68, a balancer 70, a cable 72 a cable stop 74, and a hanger 75. Additionally, the suspension device 60 may include at least one swivel 200. The swivel 200 is configured to allow the system 10 to be repeatedly rotated during operation procedures without the failure of any component of the suspension device 60. Potential embodiments of the swivel are shown in FIGS. 9 and 10. In previous embodiments, the suspension device 60 may be attached to a ceiling or overhead support in a work space. In the present invention, the

suspension device 60 may be alternately mounted to a ceiling, wall, horizontal support or mobile pedestal. The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 enables the mounting of suspension in a variety of different ways.

FIG. 4 is a simplified schematic diagram that illustrates a flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 includes mounting plate 122 and bridge connector 124. The bridge 64 may be removably attached to bridge connector 124 to connect the suspension device to the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120. The bridge connector 124 is attached to the mounting plate 122. In one embodiment, the way that the bridge connector 124 is connected to the mounting plate 1212 may be one of a hinge or joint. The mounting plate 122 may be configured to accept one of a variety of fasteners including bolts, screws, brackets, and any other fasteners known to those of ordinary skill in the art. The mounting plate 122 may be attached to a wall or other vertical support structure by any of the fasteners described above. The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 vertically supports the suspension device 60 by an adjustable stanchion 126 and the floor pedestal 128. The floor pedestal 128 is weighted to counterbalance the weight of the suspension device 60, the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20, the operator seat kit 140, and the operator 12. The height of the suspension device above the work area may be set by means of the adjustable stanchion 126.

In one embodiment, the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 may be removably attached to the adjustable stanchion 126 by means of fittings provided on the reverse side of the mounting plate 122. In this embodiment, suspension device 60 is be mounted to the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 via mounting brackets attached to or formed in the reverse side of mounting plate 122. As in previous embodiments, the suspension device 60 and suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 when supported by the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120, permit the operator 12 to move freely in the X, Y, and Z axes as the operator 12 performs a procedure. Use of the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 provides greater flexibility in positioning the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 and operator 12 relative to the patient 14 and radiation source 18. The flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 may also permit the use of suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 in operator work spaces where this was previously not feasible due to the inability of the work space ceiling or overhead support to bear the weight of the suspended personal radiation protection system 10.

In another embodiment, the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 may incorporable a control and mobility module 131. In this embodiment, the control and mobility module 131 operates to enable movement of the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 under its own power across the floor of the operator’s work space. The flexible mounting kit 130 with the control and mobility module 131 receives inputs from the operator that command the flexible pedestal mounting kit with the attached suspension device 60 and personal radiation protection ensemble 20 to move with the operator 12 in the X, Y, and Z axes as the operator 12 performs a procedure.

The control and mobility module 131 comprises control unit 132, and power and drive unit 134. The control and mobility module 131 is mechanically attached to floor pedestal 138 and mechanically connected to adjustable stanchion 126. In this embodiment, the control and mobility module components include various modes of travel including one of casters, wheels, or bearings. The operator 12 controls the settings and movement of the pedestal mounting kit 130 by means of operator interfaces accessible on the suspended personal radiation protection garment 21 and connected to the control unit 132. The operator interfaces of the control unit 132 may include haptic, verbal, tactile, or motion sensing. The power and drive unit 134 provides independent self propulsive capability to the flexible pedestal mounting kit 130. The flexible pedestal mounting kit 130 and attached suspension device 60, the suspended personal

radiation protection garment 21, the head shield 22, and the operators seat kit 140 move synchronously with the operator 12 based on operator commands provided through the operator interfaces. Collision detection sensors 136 located on the flexible suspension device mounting kit 120 and suspension device 60 detect obstructions and provide obstruction detection indications to the operator 12 via operator interfaces 138 of the control unit. Collision detection sensors 136 located on the flexible pedestal mounting kit 130 and the control unit 132 may automatically prevent or cease movement of flexible pedestal mounting kit 130 if an obstacle is detected in the path of movement commanded by the operator 12.

FIG. 6 is a simplified flowchart that illustrates an example improved method of the suspended personal radiation protection system in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The flowchart begins at step 800, where the operator 12 steps into the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. The operator 12 can adjust the suspension device's 60 height, such that the ensemble 20 is optimally position relative to the operator 12. The operator 12 can adjust the length of the ensemble 20 by various fasteners, such that the ensemble 20 covers substantially all of the operator's legs. The suspended ensemble 20 is weightless to operator 12.

At step 802, the operator 12 or another individual can strap the ensemble 20 closed by fastening the ensemble 20 so that it is substantially contoured to the operator's body. The drape 150 may be attached to the ensemble 20 to protect the ensemble 20 from contamination. The operator 12 can also wear a sterile gown and gloves. This process is very fast and effortless.

At step 804, the operator 12 can move freely in all three spatial planes while wearing the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. The operator 12 can walk diagonally, crouch, or bend sideways in a free motion while receiving protection of the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20.

At step 806, the operator 12 has complete freedom of motion to use the radiation device to properly treat the patient 14. The suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 is substantially weightless to operator 12, such that operator 12 is comfortable and unhindered. The operator's arms are able to freely move in order to properly treat the patient 14. The operator 12 can bend over the patient 14 without causing pain to operator's spine.

At step 808, the suspended ensemble 20 properly protects the operator 12 from harmful radiation 18. Since the ensemble 20 is suspended, the ensemble 20 can be heavier to provide more protection to the operator 12. The suspended ensemble 20 is substantially contoured to the operator's body, such that a substantial area of the operator's body is protected. The suspended ensemble 20 can also be made of thicker material to provide extra protection to the operator 12. The head shield 22 provides substantially complete protection to the head and neck from both direct and scattered radiation.

At step 810, the operator 12 can move freely to return to the spot where operator 12 initially stepped into suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. The operator 12 can move freely in all three spatial planes while wearing the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20. The operator 12 can walk diagonally, crouch, or bend sideways in a free motion while receiving protection of the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20.

At step 812, the operator 12 or another individual can quickly and effortlessly unfasten the ensemble 20. The operator 12 can easily step out from the suspended ensemble 20. The ensemble 20 can remain suspended after removal.

It is important to note that the stages and steps described above illustrate only some of the possible scenarios that may be executed by, or within, the present system. Some of these stages and/or steps may be deleted or removed where appropriate, or these stages and/or steps may be modified, enhanced, or changed considerably without departing from the scope of the present invention. In addition, a number of these operations have been described as being executed concurrently with, or in parallel to, one or more additional operations. However, the timing of these operations may be altered. The preceding example flows have been offered for purposes of teaching and discussion. Substantial flexibility is provided by the tendered system in that any suitable arrangements, chronologies, configurations, and timing mechanisms may be provided without departing from the broad scope of the present invention. Accordingly, any appropriate structure, component, or device may be included within suspended personal radiation protection system 10 to effectuate the tasks and operations of the elements and activities associated with executing compatibility functions.

Although the present invention has been described in detail with reference to particular embodiments, it should be understood that various other changes, substitutions, and alterations may be made hereto without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention. The illustrated system 10, including the suspension device 60, has only been offered for purposes of example and teaching. Suitable alternatives and substitutions are envisioned and contemplated by the present invention: such alternatives and substitutions being clearly within the broad scope of the present invention. In addition, while the foregoing discussion has focused on medical procedures, any other suitable environment requiring radiation protection may benefit from the compatibility teachings provided herein. Although the present invention has been described with several embodiments, a myriad of changes, variations, alterations, transformations, and modifications may be suggested to one skilled in the art, and it is intended that the present invention encompass such changes, variations, alterations, transformations, and modifications as fall within the scope of the appended claims.

Materials and/or components may be included in the system 10, including the suspended personal radiation protection ensemble 20 in order to achieve the teachings of the protective, free moving, and weightlessness features of the present invention. However, due to its flexibility, any of the components of the system 10 may alternatively be equipped with (or include) any suitable component or material, or any other suitable element or object that is operable to facilitate the operations thereof. Considerable flexibility is provided by the structure of the suspended personal radiation protection garment 21, and any other component described above, in the context of suspended personal radiation protection system 10 and, accordingly, it should be construed as such.