Inventions are often the result of personal experience. So is the case of the one that I am about to introduce to you, as well as its creator who happens to be the perfect example. Meet, Bill Schultz, known as the "mad scientist," who became passionate about finding the alternative that would allow him to avoid spinal fusion surgery.
Though he found that solution 11 years ago, Bill continues working many 14+ hour days inventing in his laboratory, creating product iterations to play out the designs in his head, and working with his incredible medical advisors to ensure his products are doing what they claim to do.
“Rather than operating, forward thinking team docs are putting our products on their players” says Bill. “There are doctors all around the country who are replacing common shoulder and back surgeries with our products.”
Like many, I suffer from back pain, so when I became acquainted with AlignMed, the first apparel born of medical science and clinical validation, I was immediately intrigued.
I recently tried The Posture Shirt® 2.0 Pullover for women and I have to say that I have noticed a big difference when I’m wearing it, versus when I’m not.
The Original Posture Shirt® is anatomically constructed with tension panels also referred to as NeuroBands® that activate and stimulate specific muscle groups and joints to keep the body upright. Perfect for correcting, maintaining and preserving Proper Posture for increased mobility, range of motion, pain reduction and enhanced performance.
Clinical research and medical validity are generally required for approval from the FDA to establish a product as a medical device. AlignMed made the decision, in order to be the leader in garments with beneficial health effects, they would submit to the products rigors of clinical testing and FDA for registration.
Of course, I had many questions for the inventor, Bill Schultz…
Chronic back pain has become the condition of the century. How did you come to develop Alignmed?
As AlignMed’s President, Founder and personal victor over my own chronic back pain, it was so severe on myself that 11 years ago my doctor was proposing spinal fusion surgery. I went on a mission to find a non-surgical alternative. As an executive then in orthopedic surgical equipment I knew many top physicians and enough about the fledgeling sciences to set out to find it, and find it I did. I was also able to get off the addictive pain meds. I have an obligation and calling to help people with pain and loss of their physical independence with a logical alternative.
What makes Alignmed different from the other products on the market?
AlignMed develops body-worn devices that unlock the body’s peak performance potential through proper postural alignment. The human body has remarkable and often miraculous self-healing capabilities. Our products tap into that. AlignMed’s sole purpose is to integrate scientific understanding of human biology with our revolutionary garment technology to pioneer new personal wellness standards and create a paradigm shift in healthcare. AlignMed is far from being the first technology to target an individual's postural health. It stands out from most of the others because its advice and knowledge are scientifically based, well documented, well studied, and addresses patient comfort and compliance. Our products are "evidence based" and steeped in clinical research.
Tell me about the Neuroband™ technology and how it works within the fabric.
Our garment technology uses built-in, customizable, variable elastic NeuroBands™ to kinetically join specific muscle groups creating YOUR ideal posture and to fight pain. “To be precise, the strategic placement of NeuroBands™ are a patented means to enhance the functions of a body in motion, not while it is static. The product does not compress your skin or restrict natural movement like compression clothing or bracing. The user benefits from the choice of where, when and how long the therapy takes place.” NeuroBands™ stimulate the body's nerves and muscles and get the blood flowing. These actions cause the body to react. The bands pull the shoulders back to help correct posture. The body breathes easier taking in oxygen, allowing systems and organs to work better. The advantages of living with good posture are well documented, as are the damaging results of living in poor posture.
Two very prominent and very eminent physicians have provided these quotes:
“This is an important tool to take control of your own musculoskeletal health and reduce inflammation and pain,” says Stephen Hochschuler, MD, Spine Surgeon and Medical Director of the Texas Back Institute. Unlike braces that restrict natural movement or compression garments that use tight fitting fabrics to compress skin, AlignMed’s multi-functional innovation is a construction matrix of strategic elastic fabric panels (NeuroBands™) shown to fire muscles and align joints. AlignMed Posture Systems and the NeuroBand™ activators were the brainchild of an esteemed group of medical clinicians motivated to find an alternative to injury prevention and recovery as well as for those people interested in the everyday wellness that good posture, poise and confidence brings.
“The garments not only work but look good as well,” says C. Thomas Vangsness, Orthopedic Surgeon, Professor and Director of Sports Medicine at USC, “AlignMed technology activates muscles to support the way muscles relay sensory information to the spinal cord, and brain for processing. In this manner NeuroBands™ help keep our muscles active and balanced.”
Did you work with spinal specialists and chiropractors to develop the line?
AlignMed has created and maintained a world-class medical advisory panel made up of eminent orthopedic surgeons, doctors of physical therapy, spine surgeons, professional sport team physicians and other professionals. Our products are invented, tested and proven with their help often in clinical and real-world settings. Members of our AMAP are found here: http://www.alignmed.com/technology/ourexperts
What came first in the line, the vest or the posture shirt?
The first product was a version of the Posture Shirt that has seen many hundreds of iterations since those early days. That first product was invented to help me to successfully avoid spinal fusion surgery and to get me off addictive pain meds. As the science of NeuroBands™ developed we were able to very successfully incorporate them into prescription level products that have proven to simply be miraculous in many situations.
You have a medical advisory panel for Alignmed products. Who is this comprised of and what do they do?
Our AMAP medical advisory board includes the likes of the team doctors for the L.A. Dodgers and Lakers, the Chicago Bulls and White Sox, the esteemed head of the famed Texas Back Institute, the head of orthopedics at New York's HSS (Hospital for Special Surgery), the President of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute, and others around the country of similar stature. Professional sports team doctors work out in front of the industry. We're very fortunate to work so closely with so many of them as they must work with a sense of urgency to get star players back to playing. We often invent products for these needs which then benefit the masses. Pro team trainers are consumed with creating good posture for their players as that's a key aspect of elite performances. The general public benefits.
Who do you recommend Alignmed for? (Arthritis, chronic pain, your site even says headeaches.)
This tech is for everyone. Everyone would benefit from their body being in proper alignment. We have multiple products that are specifically for those who want to relieve their pain, and improve their performance, but we also want to improve how people look and feel which we can all relate to. And who doesn't look and feel better with better posture and alignment. In past generations the elderly have been the stereotypical poor posture group, but that's always been a misnomer. The truth is very young people today are falling victim to the damage being done by the use of smart phones and devices. Many documented and troubling cases of "text neck" are realized in pre-teens, teens, and the use of computers and smart devices has created a near epidemic of poor posture-related issues for everyone from age 9 all the way through the elderly. The easy fact is that all anyone has to remember about Alignmed is to simply wear it! Nothing else. But it must be worn and worn with some intensity at the outset to get the body into the proper alignment where muscle memory with intermittent wear later can work well. All the research we've conducted proves remarkable bio-feedback results that motivate people to want to take better care of themselves and makes them more aware of the needs to take charge of their own good health. Continuous wear is the best use. We live in posture 24 hours of each and every day. Our products are on duty every minute they're worn.
Who are the people who wear it?
We currently have over 170,000 people using our products from the everday person who works at a computer, to the professional athletes, to the overworked sedentary office worker, to the large population bubble of boomers and seniors, and everything in between. We are gaining more awareness and users each day. With the revelation of the "text neck" phenomena, a wider audience is becoming aware of the need to stop shunning their elder's orders to sit and stand up straight, and take posture and their general health seriously. Wearing Alignmed products is a mindless activity, thus it's perfect for every type of person. We would love nothing more than to make sure people are aware of Alignmed.
How can people find out about you and where are you sold?
All our products are available for sale on our website, at: www.alignmed.com We'll also soon be available in 16 countries. We already have a strong presence in Canada, Australia and parts of Europe.
How long do you recommend wearing it, and how long before you see results?
That depends on the condition of the individual. To improve body alignment a daily wearing of 21 days is usually a point where the body has been trained and the mind is newly conditioned to understand the behavioral change that will have maximum impact. Those who get the most out of Alignmed wear our products continuously and have adopted us as part of their behavioral change. There are numerous users who wear it every day. Many find pain relief in sleeping in it as well. People with chronic conditions, neurological disorders such as Parkinson's, MS and Cerebral Palsy have seen dramatic improvement in quality of life with consistent use.
Would you say that Alignmed is also effective in stress relief?
Yes! Greatly in fact. If we think about it poor posture is really a depressed state of our body, but we all seem to focus on the mind being depressed and not the body. I know if we can improve the body's posture to be more in line with thriving we can influence the mind to do the same. We all take for granted that having poor posture can influence how you feel, and even how you perceive yourself. We are all under tremendous amounts of stress every day and some of us handle it better than others, but I know for a fact if you have better posture which is conducive to good health, then we know that our ability to manage stress will be much better. And with less stress we end up sleeping better and feeling better as a result. It really is a domino effect and we can interrupt that depressed cycle through improving our body's posture. Research that is to soon be published in the journal JOSE proves that simply wearing Alignmed at work can increase productivity 13% and lessen fatigue by up to 29%. That's a remarkable difference that results in more fulfillment at work and life in general.
What is in the future for Alignmed?
AlignMed’s vision is to bring the industries of healthcare in line with the consumer revolution witnessed in other sectors. I believe disruptive innovation and value based propositions are the two most important requirements for change in the delivery of healthcare. If you look at the top 50 academic medical centers in the U.S., not one of them has reimagined or re-evaluated their vision statements. My vision is to reimagine healthcare and the way in which it is delivered. Our alternatives to surgery, to being given a routine diet of addictive pain pills and to living a life in a poor state of posture is unique, without peer and here at the right time.
Again, if you suffer from any kind of back pain. I highly recommend that you give AlignMed a try.