As a chiropractor, specifically an upper cervical chiropractor, I’ve had many mentors who have guided me along the way, and saying that I am grateful for their expertise, guidance, and vision would be a gross understatement. Upper cervical chiropractic is not only a science, but an art that has to be practiced, honed, and coached to be mastered, and, just like a golfer, always striving to get that “hole in one”. In order to obtain the knowledge and expertise, having mentors is key. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to stand at the feet of the giants who laid the groundwork long before me and those today who are forging forward in the research and development of upper cervical chiropractic.
As I mentioned above, a specific upper cervical adjustment is often called the “hole in one” adjustment as it affects the entire body and is the most profound, yet gentle, adjustment anyone can receive. It’s one of the oldest and most researched techniques. However, it’s unfortunately the most under-utilized due to the equipment necessary and the study required to analyze and apply the adjustment properly. Most of the Chiropractic Colleges today, except for Sherman in South Carolina, only teach that the technique exists and may or may not have it as an elective or possibly a “club” on campus.
This is why upper cervical chiropractic is considered a specialty within the profession and why many of our patients seek out HealthWorks specifically.
Who are My Mentors?
What Did BJ Palmer Invent?
B.J. was the son of Chiropractic’s Founder, D.D. Palmer. He was a brilliant scientist, clinician, and philosopher, who was truly ahead of his time. Through his innovative research at the time, he was convinced that the upper cervical spine was a major influencer in the health of the human body. His thirst for knowledge was unparalleled and was known to spend hours upon hours studying the human body. The groundwork he laid was so far ahead of his time, this gave us the beginnings of the advanced technology we utilize today.
What is the Orthospinology Technique?
Dr. John D. Grostic was a second-generation chiropractor who was the main contributor to creating the technique we use at HealthWorks; Orthospinology. His groundbreaking research was based on the principle that the upper cervical spine, when misaligned or subluxated, can cause severe detrimental effects that could affect the entire body both in form and function. His hypothesis, The Dentate Ligament Theory, was the basis of that research.
“The Dentate Ligament – Cord Distortion Hypothesis utilizes the unique anatomy of the cervical spine to provide a model that explains how a misalignment of C1 or C2 can produce neurological insult directly via mechanical irritation of the spinal cord, and indirectly via vascular compromise of the cervical cord. The hypothesis is that misalignments of the upper cervical structures, because of their unique attachment to the spinal cord utilizing the dentate ligaments, can directly stress and deform the spinal cord. Subsequently, this stress on the cord, in addition to direct mechanical
irritation, may produce venous occlusion with stasis of blood and resulting anoxia in particular areas of the upper cervical cord.” (1,2)
Chiropractors using exclusively upper cervical adjusting methods have observed sudden and dramatic improvement in some patients with severe low back pain and sciatica as well as changes in muscle tone and posture. It is not unusual for
this to occur almost simultaneously with the adjustment. It is also not uncommon for the patient to experience sensations of warmth down the spine and into the lower extremities simultaneously with the adjustment. Normally these changes and sensations would be considered indicative of spinal cord involvement and why Dr. Grostic was so intrigued by this area of research. Unfortunately, he passed away before he could see his hypothesis come to fruition. Today, his work is still being used
and written about to further the understanding of the upper cervical spine or the craniocervical junction as it is referenced in the literature.
1. Romanes, G.J.: Cunningham's Textbook of Anatomy 11th Ed. Oxford University Press, London 1978.
2. Warick, R., and Williams, P.L.: Editors Gray's Anatomy, 35th British Ed., W.B. Saunders Co. Philadelphia, 1973.
While the above paved the way for upper cervical chiropractic and our technique, Orthospinology, in the past, these are the doctors who have taught me and molded me into the upper cervical chiropractor I am today. I rely on to continually hone my skills. I’m forever grateful that I have these doctors as my mentors and can call on them anytime for guidance and to further my skills. No doctor can know everything and being able to call on others that are giants in their field is not only a gift for me, but for the patients I serve.
A second-generation chiropractor, Dr. Ken was born and raised knowing all about chiropractic. His father, Dr. J. K. Humber, was a well-known upper cervical chiropractor in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. Dr. Ken teaches the Advanced Orthospinology training classes and is also a staple speaker at our annual Symposiums. His enthusiasm for teaching Orthospinology and his vast knowledge on how to perfect our skills and his appreciation for the history of Orthospinology is second to none.
Call me a total nerd, but research is a hobby for me. I just love researching different topics and applying them in practice. These two doctors are at the top of their game when it comes to research regarding Orthospinology.
Together, they wrote the only textbook for upper cervical chiropractic utilizing the Orthospinology protocol and analysis. I still use this textbook every week as I analyze my films and find the most precise adjustment for each patient.
There is also a companion book that outlines the studies that support Orthospinology and upper cervical procedures. These were compiled to show the safety, efficacy, and inter-examiner agreement of the technique.
Forever grateful to have a solid educational background within my technique and these doctors took time out of their busy lives to put this information out to other doctors in the field. Not only do they provide vital references to perfect our adjustments, but they also provide pertinent studies to back up our procedures. I was also privileged to have Dr. Bo as an instructor during my Diplomate program from 2016 to 2019.
What can I say about Dr. Julie…well first and foremost, she paved the way for women in upper cervical chiropractic. When she graduated, the majority of the profession were men and she definitely set the bar high and demonstrated that women have a permanent place in this healing arena. She’s received multiple professional awards, held many board appointments, and is part of multiple research studies and shows no sign of stopping!
Fun fact: Currently, as of 2023, the ratio of men to women in chiropractic is a solid 50/50!
She is a 2 nd generation chiropractor. Her father, Dr. David Mayer currently has the longest-held active license in the state of Florida…65 years! Her son, Dr. Travis is also a chiropractor and they all work in their legacy practice in Clearwater, Florida.
Dr. Julie’s expertise is even more specialized within Orthospinology. She has a passion for taking care of children and babies. She contributed a chapter to a pediatric chiropractic textbook that outlines upper cervical care for this population. Again, vital information for the field upper cervical chiropractor…better to correct upper cervical
subluxation as a child than trying to unravel years of damage as an adult!
She was also an instructor during my Diplomate Program and was pivotal in creating the program as well. Most recently, she published a study with many other of my colleagues that showed a significant improvement in immune system health following upper cervical care.
In 2016 I started my studies for the Diplomate in Craniocervical Junction Procedures. This 3-year commitment was probably the most rewarding, yet challenging time in my professional life. This was where I met Dr. Rosa. He taught several of my modules during these 3 years. His knowledge of the upper cervical spine and his research using FONAR Upright MRI imaging in relation to mild traumatic brain injury was nothing short of amazing. After hearing his lectures, I knew I was in the right program. His most notable contribution to helping those who suffer from traumatic brain injury is his work within the NFL. Concussions run rampant in this sport and determining how to negate their deleterious effects as well as making sure
these athletes get the proper treatment after an injury is vital to the longevity of the player as well as their overall health after they retire.
Jim McMahon is a perfect example of this and his story before and after receiving upper cervical care should give all athletes and parents of young athletes pause…it’s vital to get a baseline BEFORE an injury to properly determine the gravity of the injury sustained.
McMahon has been suffering from the effects of all these hits and it’s been well-documented that his life has been forever changed by excruciating head pain, early-onset dementia, depression, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. The 30 for 30 documentary tells the story of the Bears, of his chiropractor, Dr. Scott Rosa, but it also may ultimately provide hope for many who also suffer from life-altering and sometimes threatening symptoms associated with spinal joint alignment.
If you want to catch a glimpse of his story and his journey with Dr. Scott Rosa, you can see a short video here:
Last, but definitely not least, Dr. Bart is who inspired me to finally take the plunge and become a chiropractor. Many of my long-term patients have heard the story of when I saw a 12-day old infant come back to life after being given her first atlas adjustment. She was not breathing properly after her birth and the medical doctors had no idea
why. This family landed on our doorstep as a last resort as they were seeing her slowly slip away. It was at his office, while working as his assistant, that I witnessed this miracle and I knew I had to buckle down and finally go back to school. Not only was he a mentor, but he and his wife, Kellye helped me open my first office. They loaned me the capital and Kellye, for four solid months traveled from Austin to help me put furniture together, train me on all things business, find my first assistant, and train her as well as both being my sounding boards as I navigate into business ownership. Now we have come full circle and Dr. Bart is President and I’m the Vice President of The Society of Chiropractic Orthospinology, our technique association.
This is definitely not my entire list and I’m sure I will have many more mentors in the future. Angels come in many forms and with these doctors, they have been my guides, and I could not be more grateful.
Who are your angels? Have you thanked them lately??