When the infant son of Dr. Horst Schaaf and his wife was born in 1988 they were told that their beautiful baby boy had Cerebral Palsy. He would be blind, live in a wheel chair, and his body would become more and more deformed. All the hopes and dreams that every parent has for their child were denied to them as the doctor spoke the words of a hopeless future for their son, Mattais.
As Horst tried to listen to the doctor, his voice became a distant noise as he realized there would never be the excited moment of Mattias taking his first steps. There would be no sitting in the stands cheering their son as he played soccer on a sunny Saturday morning. As a physicist, Horst’s mind was a trained instrument of assimilating facts. How could this be happening? But at that moment in the doctor’s office, Horst wasn’t a Doctor of Physics, he was a father.
Horst had always thought outside the box, asked the “what if?” question. Mattais had already suffered through many surgeries and the resulting setbacks. Horst began to reason that perhaps there was a way to teach Mattias the skills to balance himself and strengthen the core muscles to support his spine. The “what if” now became Horst’s personal crusade.
Instead of coaching the sports team or playing ball with his son, Horst “coached” Mattias through daily grueling physical therapy sessions. Their mutual enemy the progressively curving and distorting of his spine that brought them closer and closer to spinal fusion surgery. They were told it was the only way to prevent the collapse of his torso and eventual damage to his internal organs. They were working against time. Now they not only had Cerebral Palsy to deal with, Mattias was developing neuromuscular scoliosis. Two names that meant only pain and suffering for his son. Was there a different answer out there that he had failed to see?
There were many unsuccessful experiments. But his “Ah Ha” moment came during an equestrian therapy session. Horst noticed Mattias attempted to sit straight on his own while on horseback. Mattias wasn’t even aware that his body was working for him not against him! The subtle rocking motion of the horse caused his brain to activate the dormant muscles in his core and back encouraging him to sit up straight. Unfortunately the effect lasted only as long as he was on the horse.
Well I hope you all enjoy this great story of an inventor and his love for his son.
Thank you for your time and energy ….Be well
Health and Exercise Prescriptions
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