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1. (WO1997015257) EARPLUG CONTAINMENT DEVICE
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CLAIMS:

1. An eaφlug containment device for slow-recovery eaφlugs comprising a thin-walled, hollow sleeve having an inside diameter less than the diameter of a human ear canal and at least one slow recovery eaφlug maintained in a compressed state and positioned within said sleeve, said eaφlug being capable of expanding to a diameter greater than that ofthe human ear canal.

2. The eaφlug containment device of claim 1 wherein said sleeve is cylindrical, and has an inside diameter of less than about 8 mm.

3. The eaφlug containment device of claims 1-2, wherein said hollow sleeve is tapered with a first end portion being open and having a diameter and a second end portion being hemispherical and having a diameter less than that of said first end portion.

4. The eaφlug containment device of claim 3, wherein the diameter of said first end portion is 2 to 3 mm greater than that of said hemispherical end portion.

5. The eaφlug containment device of claim 4, wherein the diameter of the open end portion is about 4 to 9 mm, and wherein said sleeve portion into which said eaφlug is inserted is at least about 15 mm long.

6. The eaφlug containment device of claim 1, wherein said hollow sleeve is open at at least one end portion thereof and a portion of said eaφlug protrudes beyond said open end of said sleeve to form a bulbous end portion of said eaφlug, and wherein said bulbous end portion comprises about 20 to 40 percent of said eaφlug.

7. A method for forming an eaφlug containment device comprising providing at least one thin-walled, hollow sleeve having an inside diameter less than the diameter of the human ear canal, compressing a slow-recovery eaφlug having a diameter greater than that ofthe human ear canal to a cross-sectional size less than that of said sleeve and inserting said compressed eaφlug into said sleeve.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein said sleeve is cylindrical, and wherein said sleeve has an inside diameter of less than about 8 mm.

9. The method of claims 7-8, wherein said hollow sleeve is tapered with a first end portion being open and having a diameter and a second end portion being hemispherical and having a diameter less than that of said first end portion.

10. The method of claims 7-9, wherein the diameter of said first end portion is 2 to 3 mm greater than that of said hemispherical end portion, and wherein said sleeve portion into which said eaφlug is inserted is at least about 15 mm long.