From Sufferer to Conqueror: The Meilus Success Story
After graduating from Cleveland State University in June of 1977 with a B.S.E.E. and M.S.E.E., Al Meilus immediately put his degrees to work as an automation engineer with GE Corporation. Within six months the talented young engineer, fresh out of college and armed with the latest technology, was promoted to program manager of GE’s automation engineering and artificial vision (electronic eyes) programs. Life looked promising and for the next ten years Al never imagined himself doing anything else.
But then fate dealt Al a blow. Unexpectedly and with absolutely no explanation, the physically active and otherwise healthy man suddenly couldn’t get out of bed without an overwhelming wave of dizziness and nausea sweeping over him. The sudden loss of equilibrium was so bad that Al could barely stand for any period of time, much less drive a car or function at his job.
Completely baffled by the onset of this disability, Al immediately sought medical attention. Time and time again he saw doctors who just weren’t sure what was wrong with him. Finally, after a year of being on disability, he was told that the problem must be rooted in an inner-ear disorder and his only hope for a normal life was a surgical procedure that would likely restore his equilibrium. However, there would be no guarantees.
Unwilling to accept surgery as the only option, Al assembled a “team” of specialists consisting of a dentist, an osteopath, a physical therapist, an orthodontist, and a massage therapist. Using his experience as a program manager, he gave his “medical dream” team a mission: to fix his problem using their collective understanding of how the human body creates and maintains its equilibrium. It was a last ditch effort at avoiding surgery. It worked!
Together, the three doctors and two therapists determined that muscles in Al’s neck and jaw were severely contracted and placing tremendous strain on the muscles around the bone that surrounded his inner ear. The stress on his inner ear was creating the dizziness and nausea. Employing his “engineer’s eye” to assess the information that the team of doctors and therapists had provided him, Al developed an unusual treatment plan. Only because of the team’s open-minded and progressive attitudes did Al’s strategy have an opportunity to reach fruition.
The osteopath and massage therapist did hands-on therapy to relax Al’s muscles while the dentist and orthodontist realigned his jaw and teeth. As if someone had waived a magic wand, suddenly Al was able to walk again. He wasn’t completely healed (there were still regular recurrences of the problem), but he could finally go back to work and regain his freedom.
It was a life-altering experience. Fascinated by how dramatically the human body could be affected by nothing more than constricted muscles, Al soon gave up his lucrative career with GE and set out to study different therapies. As with everything else in his life, Al’s thirst for knowledge and understanding drove him to learn everything he could about the human muscular, neurological, and skeletal systems. Before long, his engineering perspective on how things work began to formulate a great many innovative ideas about treating pain and injuries.
Within just a few years of earning his license to practice, Al set out on his own and opened up a clinic that would specialize in a new treatment method that he knew would help a large part of the population: muscular therapy.
When not surprisingly, his new ideas worked. He quickly built a large patient base, some of which, like Al himself, had been seeking solutions to long-term problems for years. People suffering from all kinds of ailments, including sports injuries, slip and fall injuries, chronic back pain, arthritis, carpal tunnel, post surgery pain, Parkinson’s, and even fibromyalgia, came to see Al for treatment. He was able t help them all. He was even able to develop a regular treatment routine for himself that alleviated his own problems.
Despite the tremendous success he was experiencing, Al was still not satisfied. He began an extensive effort to teach his patients how to treat themselves, liberating regular patients from the burden of coming into the clinic two or three times a week. As an integral component of this self-help program, he developed tools that patients could take with them in order to make their home treatment more effective. Once again, things were looking good.
But fate wasn’t done shaping Al’s life just yet. In January of 1994, he incurred a serious hernia while administering treatment to a patient. The tear in his abdomen required immediate surgery. Although a major setback, Al took the downtime after the injury to develop a solution: a “robot therapist” that could apply pressure and do the therapy for him.
As he worked feverishly to build prototypes so that he could get back to his therapy business, fortune smiled upon the inventor when he was able to formulate a working partnership with Lockheed Martin, The University of South Florida, and the Southern Technology Application Center. Utilizing a series of grants and awards provided by these organizations, Al was able to overcome the considerable expense and engineering challenge involved in building his automated therapists.
Today, the inventor/therapist/patient is still offering a permanent solution to their aches and pains, improving sports performance, and enhancing the quality of life for hundreds, all while continuing to develop new and improved tools to better the science of muscular therapy. Many of the devices that Al has invented re being used across the country and now around the world by therapists and patients alike, all of whom are better off for the turn in fate that drew an electrical engineer into developing a new therapy method.