At age 20, I had just finished my first year of sciences at the University of Winnipeg when in August 1983 I suffered a horrible injury.
I was diving into water I thought was 20 feet deep, but it was on to a sandbar only 2 feet deep. I had tremendous pain for 3 days when I sought help from a chiropractor. My family ( I was the youngest of seven) had no experience with chiropractic.
Dr. Gus Lodewyks, a Gonstead doctor, took xrays and informed me I had a compression fracture of the C5 vertebrae. He told me to go to the hospital, but if I was not kept there to return to see him the next week to have an adjustment.
At the hospital I had another set of xrays, I was fitted with a rigid cervical collar and consulted with an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon told me to return to see him at the end of the week.
I went back to see Dr. Lodewyks on Monday morning and Wednesday for adjustments. By the second adjustment MOST of my pain was gone- I was elated. On Friday I returned to the surgeon. He had me take off my cervical collar and examined me. He was flabbergasted to see I was comfortable, I could move my neck, and I was no longer grimacing at every slight movement of my head.
The surgeon asked “What have you been doing?”
I said, “I have been seeing a chiropractor and its made me so much better.”
The surgeon was furious, and he said to me “If you want to DIE or be PARALYZED continue with the chiropractor. You need an operation to fuse your neck vertebrae- a posterior arthrodesis of C4-5-6.
I was confused, but I knew the adjustments had made me better. Dr. Lodewyks showed me my xrays and explained to me in terms I could understand, at age 20, that I had a compressed vertebra but the cervical spine was not unstable in flexion and extension. I did not require surgery.
It was clear to me that the chiropractor was more knowledgeable about how my spine worked versus the surgeon who wanted to fuse my neck. The choice to refuse surgery and stick with the chiropractor was to be a pivotal one and the best decision I have ever made.
Soon I was referring friends, family, and neighbours to Dr. Lodewyks- everyone was getting better. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted to be a chiropractor.
I finished my prerequisites at University and was accepted to Palmer College to start September 1986.
Dr. Lodewyks assumed a mentoring role for me. Before starting at Palmer he lent me a Gonstead booklet about sacroiliac listings. He would come to Davenport and we would drive to Mount Horeb for Gonstead seminars. The first seminar was in October 1986, during my first month of chiropractic college. At the end of my first day at a Gonstead seminar Dr. Lodewyks and I went back to our hotel room. He said to me, “now you are going to adjust my neck.” It took about 2 hours of trying- and I finally- with Dr. Lodewyks coaching, got his neck to move- a small ‘click’. My first month of chiropractic college and I had delivered my first adjustment!
Dr. Lodewyks took me to several more seminars at Mount Horeb where I started the process of learning how to be a chiropractor.
One memorable afternoon, some students and I were practicing set-ups in the Gonstead clinic, Dr. Raymond Clinton was helping to coach our technique. Dr. Clinton was about my height ( 5’5”) and had a very slight build. He adjusted my low back side posture and I was astounded how slick his adjustment was. He moved my low back so well with such little effort. I knew I wanted more than anything to be a good adjuster like Dr. Clinton.
I went to 6 seminars at Mount Horeb- the last two I was able to attend the advanced class with Dr. Doug and Alex Cox. They would discuss interesting cases and one could ask questions like “how do you palpate the occiput”- he showed me.
I studied more Gonstead technique at Dr. Larry Troxell’s 5 points clinic in Davenport. The technique gave me a solid background in adjusting. By the end of my first year at Palmer I was holding workshops for students to help them learn about palpation, cervical chair, and side posture adjustments. By the time I started in the student clinic I already had a lot of adjusting experience.
I studied other techniques- I got to do a Thompson course with Dr. Clay Thompson. I learned about extremities from Dr. Kevin Hearon and Dr. Richard Burns. In clinic various chiropractors showed me all kinds of different adjustments. Dr. Ron Frogley showed me how to adjust an elevated sternum. I began to realize that every word of wisdom, every tip from these experienced chiropractors is a gem- a valuable tool in the chiropractor’s repertoire of adjustments. There are all kinds of chiropractic techniques. The reason they exist is because they all work.
Some of the notable chiropractic doctors I learned technique directly from were: Dr. Gus Lodewyks, Dr.s Doug, Alex, and John Cox, Dr. Clay Thompson, Dr. Richard Burns, Dr. Raymond Clinton, Dr. Kevin Hearon, Dr. Gayle Cook, Dr. Ron Frogley, Dr. Charles Campbell, Dr. Bob Correlje, Dr. Wayne Henry Zemelka, Dr. Carol Mullen, and Dr. Fred Barge.
Whenever you try to execute a new technique there is a learning curve and it will seem awkward until the muscle memory is developed. If we are aware of what can be done- keep an eye out for it- we will in time become proficient at new adjustments.
Dr. Charles Campbell, of Vancouver, showed me some thumb and traction moves in 1991. I had never done these before and thought “I can’t do that”. Well, I kept trying and now I use them daily.
I graduated from Palmer in 1989 and began working with Dr. Bob Correlje in Victoria in 1990. Dr. Bob was a veteran of high volume practice and he mentored me. He educated me about practice management and showed me adjustments-the most dynamic and invaluable adjustment he showed me was the upper cervical toggle. He would answer my questions almost daily in the first year. In 1990 the BC medical plan covered chiropractic- our user fee was $5.00. By the end of my second year in practice I was adjusting hundreds of patients a week. I started to think about giving a technique seminar for chiropractors. I spent the next 15 years planning and adding to the content.
In 2008, I started my first set of seminars. One for adjusting extremities, the other for adjusting the full spine. In these seminars I present virtually all the techniques, strategies, and thought processes I use in practice on a daily basis. All the tricks, all the explicit details about how I practice and problem solve. Participants fill out a brief seminar review at the end of the seminar. Unanimously it has been well received. I get calls and emails from doctors “You know that adjustment you showed us- I use it all the time now.”
I have also gotten calls from chiropractors asking “What makes you qualified to present a technique seminar?” I am qualified because of all the training and mentoring from some great chiropractors. Also because of the experience from a high volume practice for many years. I have a keen interest to show other chiropractors what can be done, and I have planned for these seminars for over 15 years. Most of us do what we have been shown by other chiropractors. Why not see some more? I have also innovated several adjustments you won’t see anywhere else.
The focus of the seminar is the adjustment, the foundation of chiropractic.
The adjustment makes us doctors with a specialty in our own right. The art of chiropractic technique belongs to us alone-let’s run with it.
Dr. Paul Hunter