Magnetic shirts offer independence to people with disabilities

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.

What started as a solution for her husband is filling a niche, offering people with limited mobility more independence.