MIT’s Open Style Lab – Mentorship

An amazing program that I am honored to be contributing to is MIT’s Open Style Lab, the brainchild of MIT grad Grace Teo and Brown University medical student Alice Tin.  A strategic platform that focuses on new wearable technology for those with limited mobility.

Helping bring visionary designs that aid people with limited mobility and dexterity to production is the ultimate goal.  What I absolutely endear about this program is that it brings together 3 areas of focus for 1 greater goal.  To unify the occupational, engineering and textile world under one umbrella in efforts to create a level platform has long been overdue.  I am proud to be a part of the process.

Below is an article published for Boston Magazine.  I believe it sums up the program nicely.  For more information, amazing stories and updates, check out Open Style Lab.

“The greater need besides being able to [dress] independently is being able to look like everyone else, or look how you want to look,” Horton says. “Instead of standing out because of your disability, that’s one way that we should be able to all stand on a level platform.”

http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/blog/2014/08/04/mit-open-style-lab/

 

Students Create Adaptive Clothing at MIT Open Style Lab

Engineering, design, and occupational therapy majors team up to design apparel for people with disabilities.

Barbara and her Open Design Lab team. Photo provided.

After a series of fractures left her in unbearable pain, Barbara Harrison elected to have below-the-knee amputation. While she knew the surgery would change her life, she wasn’t prepared for the small changes that nobody thinks about—like how clothes will fit.

Harrison, a Winthrop resident, now has a prosthetic leg, and the process of getting dressed in the morning is more difficult. That’s why a team of college students at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working together to design a new kind of pant that can be functional for those with disabilities.

Creating apparel that is both functional and aesthetically-pleasing is the whole idea behind the MIT Open Style Lab (OSL), a new 10-week summer program where students design clothing solutions for people with physical disabilities. Funded by university grants and corporate sponsors, the program is the brainchild of MIT grad Grace Teo and Brown University medical student Alice Tin.

“Clothing is social capital. Often [clothing for people with disabilities] falls under the functional end of the spectrum and doesn’t look cool or stylish,” Teo says. “What we’ve noticed is even if you have the best intentions, the best product, the most helpful technology, if it doesn’t look great, people don’t want to wear it.”

OSL fellow Alex Peacock's sketch of a glove that can be worn by his client who has fisted hands due to a spinal cord injury. Photo by Kira Bender.

Hoping to change this trend, Teo and Tin have recruited 24 engineering, design, and occupational therapy students to this summer’s inaugural OSL program. The students work in teams of three, with each team assigned to one of the program’s eight clients—all of whom, like Harrison, have a physical disability. In the early weeks of the program, which began in June, teams met with their clients to identify specific clothing challenges. Now, students are focused on creating prototypes of their designs under the guidance of expert mentors.

Maura Horton, a professional designer, is one of them. Though her background is in designing clothing for children, Horton’s recent efforts have focused elsewhere. She is the creative force behind MagnaReady, a line of dress shirts for seniors and people with limited mobility that uses magnets instead of traditional buttons. She designed the shirts after her husband, then a 48-year-old college football coach, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease—a debilitating condition which left him unable to dress himself.

“When my husband was first diagnosed , I looked at the [adaptive clothing] choices that were available online. It frightened me,” Horton says. “What I was seeing online was not something I wanted to replicate with my family. They were not quality choices.”

Horton says one of the most important aspects of her “magnet-infused” shirt design, which her OSL students use for inspiration, is that it looks like any other dress shirt available in stores. Unlike other adaptive clothing, it does not differ in appearance from traditional clothing in an obvious way.

“The greater need besides being able to [dress] independently is being able to look like everyone else, or look how you want to look,” Horton says. “Instead of standing out because of your disability, that’s one way that we should be able to all stand on a level platform.”

As founders of the OSL program, Teo and Tin share Horton’s sensibility. The ultimate goal of the program, they say, is to make “the distribution of clothing more accessible.”

“Everyone has a range of clothing to work with because [clothing is] a channel for self expression. For populations with disabilities, that vocabulary is limited,” Tin says. “What we’re doing with Open Style Lab is to reintroduce diversity into their wardrobe.”

Student teams will reveal their final clothing prototypes at a public presentation at MIT on August 16 from 3:30 p.m to 5 p.m. The prototypes will also be presented during weekends in October at Boston’s Museum of Science. For more information, visit openstylelab.com

Grace Teo and Alice Tin try on goggles that mimic eye diseases at the MIT AgeLab. Photo by Laura Hanson.

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It’s A Number Game

When you look at yourself as just “a number”, like the 1 million people living with Parkinson’s disease in the U.S..  It’s often hard to think you matter or more importantly, you can make a difference.

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The daunting figure –  3 out of 5 Americans will suffer from a nervous system disease, means that someone you know, love or possibly yourself will be in this statistic.

It’s when you start looking at specific numbers that are generated that you realize people do care and had the forethought to implement actions to bring relief.

A few numbers :

$70 Million dollars was given out by The Michael J Fox Foundation alone in 2013 to new and promising research.  They funded more research in 2013 than in any year prior!

Thanks to the amazing generosity of donors, 5.9 is the total dollars (in millions!) raised by Team Fox members alone in 2013 to help speed a cure for Parkinson’s disease.

Everyone can make a difference, even just one person.

The number my children display to help make a difference in their dads day is – 7.

She shoots.. she scores... a smile from her dad

She shoots.. she scores… a smile from her dad

You see, back in the day, his number, “lucky” number, was 70. Many a days were spent cloaked in a jersey, representing a team as #70.  That was during a time when your name was never on the back of the jersey because you were part of a team. As Don relays, no one name stood out, as a team you all stood together.  Much like our fight now!

The girls always want to cary a part of him with them.  So they try to show they care and want to carry on his strength by wearing a piece of a number that meant something to him.

When he watches them play sports, much like the chances of him getting Parkinson’s, the feeling he has is 1 in a million!

Lucky Number 7

Live Your Life Without Boundaries!

I am humbled to share Justin’s story and his company UNlimiters.  He has created a wonderful resource center to help so many.  Please take a moment to watch his video but more importantly to hear his words

Watch here

 

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Felling like an outsider is not acceptable in today’s world! WE should all feel like we can do what everyone else can.

 

 

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Born with Cerebral Palsy, UNlimiters founder Justin Farley has always had a passion and determination to live an unlimited life in big ways, and in small ones.
For example, because his Cerebral Palsy causes shakiness and unsteadiness in his right side, Justin always struggled with buttons and fine motor skills. But with the help of the MagnaReady shirt, Justin can dress like the business professional he is.

http://www.unlimiters.com/default.asp

I am happy to be a small part of his journey. 

MagnaReady and Michael J. Fox Foundation Commitment

many ask me personally “What my home run is for our company” My answer is simple.  There isn’t one until there is a cure.  Therefore, for the month of April – Parkinson’s Awareness Month, we are donating a percentage of each purchase to the michael j. foundation to help fund a cure.  I truly belive we are all in this together!

 

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Below is the Blog that was posted on behalf of MagnaReady® and MJF and  teamFox

MagnaReady Supports Team Fox for Parkinson’s Awareness Month

Posted by  Maura Horton, April 02, 2014

MagnaReady Supports Team Fox for Parkinson's Awareness Month

Editor’s Note: With her portion of proceeds campaign launching this April, we asked Team Fox member and MagnaReady creator Maura Horton to tell us the story behind her innovative magnetic button down shirts.

“Mom, will you button my shirt?”

As a mother of two young children, this is a question that I have heard repeatedly over the last 10 years. When one child mastered the skill, the second began to verbalize the same basic need. Somewhere in the mix, I started hearing the same pleas from my husband Don. As the limited mobility effects of Parkinson’s began to set in, he was beginning to struggle with this simple task as well.

First, I started noticing that I was ready before Don; something that had never happened in our many years of marriage. I was the one now standing at the bottom of the stairs inquiring, “How much longer?”, pressing him, “We are going to be late!” During our morning routine, I would witness instinctive, honest-loving moments from our two girls, jumping up on our bed, using it as a ladder, to help their 6-foot-4 athletic father get ready for work by helping him to button his dress shirt.  I was naive, and thought that this challenge only happened for him when he was in the privacy of our home, not really giving thought to how Don got dressed when we weren’t around. He has Parkinson’s, but we rarely ever talked about the limitations. To admit to the struggle would mean acceptance.

As a college football coach, Don traveled quite a bit with a busy schedule in and out of locker rooms and hotels. The season brings early mornings and late nights, and honestly not a lot of time for small talk in between. However, on one particular night, after coming in from away game, he was anxious to tell me, “I had a hard day.” He repeated and elaborated, “I had a hard day. A player had to help me get dressed to catch the team plane.” Once he spoke of all the particulars I desperately wanted to help him. This was, after all, a man who never complained.

The Hortons with Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson
The Horton family with Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback.

I realized in his words that despite the wins and losses on the field, here in this moment, my husband felt defeated. His dignity had been lost, and the simple fact that his body was betraying him was almost unbearable. For over twenty years, I had been on the sidelines watching Don be a leader, inspiring his players to be better players; to be better men. Mentally, I knew he could overcome the changes he was going through and could motivate himself to stay strong and move forward, but physically, I realized, that his battle with Parkinson’s was not going to be a fair fight, and I could see that my husband’s spirit was starting to deflate.

Getting dressed shouldn’t be stressful; living with a disability is hard enough. As I thought through how I could help, the epiphany came, and soon MagnaReady – Stress Free Shirting was born. If there is anything that I have learned from being a coach’s wife, perseverance prevails and something constructive comes from every defeat.

How you can join us this April for Parkinson’s Awareness month:

In our office hangs a sign that says – “Remember Why You Started”. Our mission is simple and MagnaReady is dedicated to giving back to the Parkinson’s community that we are proud to be a part of. So throughout the month of April, MagnaReady is committed to donating 10 percent of every purchase to the MJF Foundation during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.

TAGS: Caring for Someone with Parkinson’s Disease, Team Fox, Getting Involved

Until there is a cure we will be the change.

Just Being Is Fun

Sometimes we dwell on the changes we have undergone and are scared of what lies ahead but because of these two little ones we opt for a different path.

I never lose sight of the fact that just being is fun. ~ Katharine Hepburn

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Quote is by Katharine Hepburn – Many know her from her amazing breath of work on-screen.  Others know her for having Essential Tremor as well.

Essential Tremor is a neurological condition that causes a rhythmic trembling of the hands, head, voice, legs or trunk. Some even feel an internal shake. It is often confused with Parkinson’s disease although ET is eight times more common and affects an estimated 10 million Americans alone.

A few great resources for ET are  International Essential Tremor Foundation and Tremor Action Network

Another quote by Katharine Hepburn

“Now to squash a rumor. No, I don’t have Parkinson’s. I inherited my shaking head from my grandfather Hepburn. I discovered that whiskey helps stop the shaking. Problem is, if you’re not careful, it stops the rest of you too. My head just shakes, but I promise you, it ain’t gonna fall off!”.

Parkinson’s doesn’t stop former NCSU Pack assistant coach Horton, from teaching life and football

We have been married for 20 years.  United in our goals of raising a compassionate family who is making a difference, not only on a football field.  We just happen to believe, people with disabilities can do amazing things!
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Don Horton has coached 15 offensive linemen who have played in the NFL. He was once named by ESPN.com as one of the two best offensive line coaches in the United States. He gained national prominence as a longtime assistant to former N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien.

Now he is an assistant coach at Ravenscroft School.

And he loves it.

“I got into coaching because I wanted to have an impact on young men,” Horton said recently, before going out into the rain for a Ravens practice. “I hope these guys that I’m coaching now will be better men because we worked together.”

Horton has Parkinson’s disease. He has had the chronic and progressive movement disorder for about seven years. Boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Michael J. Fox have Parkinson’s, which can cause trembling hands, uncontrollable tics, stiffness, unsteadiness in walking among other things. Symptoms can worsen over time. There is no cure, and the cause of the disorder is unknown.

The disease has affected Horton’s speech and his movement. Former N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson once needed to help him button his shirt after a game.

But Parkinson’s has not affected his desire to help young people.

Mike Fagan, a 6-foot-2, 320-pound tackle at Ravenscroft, said he is a better person because of Horton.

“First thing, he is a remarkable coach,” Fagan said. “He has so much knowledge. Learning from him has been immensely profitable.

“And to know what he is going through and how he is handling it is inspiring. No matter what obstacles you come up against, you shouldn’t ever give up.”

Horton, who has coached for 34 years, can still motivate players.

Don Horton - Ravenscroft

“Oh yeah, when he wants you to hear something in practice he gets his point across,” Fagan said. “He can get pretty emotional.”

“It’s tougher in high school to have an impact because you don’t have the time,” said Horton, 55. “You don’t meet and watch film together like you do in college. But you’re still trying to do the same thing – teach them the basics, the techniques – and trying to have an impact on their life.”

Coaching at Ravenscroft has given him the opportunity to continue doing what he has wanted to do essentially his entire life. He resigned from coaching in 2012 but continued working in football operations at State until this spring when he said he was fired less than a month after brain surgery.

“Don always has wanted to be coaching kids,” said Maura Horton, his wife of 20 years. “I admire that. He found what he wanted to do and pursued that. He hasn’t changed.”

He moves more slowly now. Some physical changes seem to happen overnight. Other changes have been so gradual that he didn’t realize they were happening until he noticed a major change.

The incident with the shirt button inspired Maura Horton to develop clothing that can fasten using magnets, an example of how the family has worked to adapt to Horton’s condition.

“I take umbrage at the term resilience,” Maura Horton said. “The lives of our children (daughters who are 10 and 6) have been changed forever because of Parkinson’s. The lives of our children have changed for the better because they have seen how their father has faced this.”

Toughness

Horton wants to keep coaching football, a sport he considers the last bastion of toughness.

“You get knocked down, you get up,” he said. “You lose, but you don’t quit trying. You push yourself farther than you want to go, but you keep going. Football teaches toughness, physically and mentally.”

Horton was excited when Ravenscroft coach Ned Gonet offered him a job because he believes he still has things to offer young men.

“I hope he’ll have me back next year,” Horton said.

No worries there, Gonet said.

“We are honored to have such a man be associated with our program,” Gonet said. “Not only does he do a tremendous job with the kids, he has been great for our coaching staff.”

Horton started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at New Mexico State, Ohio State and Virginia before he got his first head coaching job in 1977 at Norfolk (Va.) Catholic. He led a program that had scored 18 points the previous season to a 4-6 record. He is still in touch with some of the players there.

Joe Sparksman, a Department of Corrections probation parole officer in Raleigh who was a runner and linebacker at Norfolk Catholic, said Horton inspired him years ago and inspires him today.

“He has been tough,” Sparksman said. “Just watching him handle everything thrown at him has been an inspiration. He was tough as a coach, but he was a coach who stressed that I was a student as well as an athlete. There was never any question that he wanted what was best for me.”

Wittenberg University, Horton’s alma mater, offered him a job as an assistant in 1978 and he remained in college coaching until arriving at Ravenscroft.

Horton said there has been little adjustment to teaching high school players after working for years with much bigger and stronger college players.

“It’s relative,” he said. “In college, those 6-5, 280 guys play against other 6-5, 280 guys. High school players, 6-3, 230, play against high school players about the same size. Most of the college players know they aren’t going to play beyond their senior year and so do the high school players. It’s about the same.”

And the lessons taught through athletics are the same, too.

Horton and his wife were talking about that just the other day.

Life is not always fair, but you have to keep getting up.

Birthday Wishes

I recently celebrated a birthday.

As I blew the candles on my perfectly pink homemade cake

I wished …..

That UNTIL there is a cure there will be compassion and understanding for all.

Understanding = Campassion

Education + Understanding = Compassion

MagnaReady and FOX News – Jonathan Serrie

Jonathan Serrie sporting MagnaReady

Jonathan Serrie sporting MagnaReady

MagnaReady with FOX News and Jonathan Serrie

Magnetic shirts offer independence to people with disabilities

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/04/magnetic-shirts-offer-independence-to-people-with-disabilities/#ixzz2Y6cCvO7s

They say necessity is the mother of invention. And in the case of former NC State Football Coach Don Horton, it was a desire to maintain independence while living with Parkinson’s disease that inspired his wife to come up with an entrepreneurial solution.

Maura Horton is CEO of “MagnaReady,” a line of dress shirts embedded with magnets so that the wearer doesn’t have to fumble with buttons.

She says the inspiration came four years ago when her husband returned from a game feeling embarrassed. The disease had affected his hand movement so much that he had to ask one of his players to button his shirt.

“It was humbling,” Coach Horton said.

The conversation spurred Maura Horton into action.

“There were a lot of challenges or changes he might have been going through that I couldn’t help,” she said. “But that was one I thought I would try to get to the bottom of it.”

She used her skills as a former children’s clothing designer to create high-end shirts with buttons, and button holes, that were purely decorative. “Buttoning” the shirts is as simple as lining up the magnets and hearing them click.

“They made a tremendous amount of difference,” Coach Horton said. “Having the confidence to get done what you’ve got to get done and what you want to wear.”

More recently, Don Horton stopped wearing magnets to avoid interference with a pacemaker-like device he received to deliver electronic stimulation to his brain. But the deep brain stimulation (DBS) therapy has improved his mobility and he is once again able to button conventional shirts.

Meanwhile, Maura Horton, who started selling her “MagnaReady” shirts online in January, has seen her home-based office flooded with orders — not only for people living with Parkinson’s, but arthritis, stroke and even war injuries.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/07/04/magnetic-shirts-offer-independence-to-people-with-disabilities/#ixzz2Y6afgEER

Independence Day!!

Happy 4th of July!

From our family to yours! Happy 4th of July!

Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.  ~Louis D. Brandeis