Chiropractic innovator trained as a scientist to advance profession
Chandler, Arizona based inventor, and CEO, Christopher J. Colloca, DC carried the College of Health Solutions banner leading the procession of colleges at Arizona State University’s (ASC) Commencement ceremony on Monday, December 14, 2015. Michael M. Crow, PhD, President of the University conferred the Doctorate degree, a PhD in Kinesiology, to Colloca and the other graduates at Wells Fargo Arena on ASU’s main campus in Tempe.
Asked about the Banner Marshall honors, Colloca joked, “I was probably asked to carry it because I’m the oldest one getting my doctorate today.”
Colloca originally enrolled at ASU in 2003 in the master’s program of the Department of Kinesiology to improve his research skills. He took courses part-time in between his other two jobs, directing a full-time chiropractic practice and overseeing his new Chandler based medical device technology and education company, Neuromechanical Innovations.
He found a home in ASU’s Department of Kinesiology, where he could study coursework in both biomechanics and motor control (neuroscience) as well as learn research methodology and become trained in statistics.
In the years that followed, the Kinesiology program became part of the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion. And finally the master’s program matriculated into the PhD Kinesiology Program in Arizona State’s College of Health Solutions. Colloca’s great sense of gratitude is appreciated in his Dissertation Thesis where he acknowledges his adviser and committee and the University for having become formally trained as a scientist.
Colloca’s dissertation entitled, Biomechanical evaluation of a cervical intervertebral disc degeneration model, is the first to examine the spine’s stiffness and motion response during chiropractic interventions to understand the effect of disc degeneration on the biomechanical response.
Colloca’s research supports the medical device technology that his company has patented, providing chiropractic doctors with more objective means to determine when spinal joints are dysfunctional and how to better determine how much treatment is necessary to improve joint motion with chiropractic treatment. Colloca’s inventions, the Impulse Adjusting Instruments are currently in use in over 10,000 chiropractic offices in over 50 countries worldwide.
Colloca’s career path began at Ithaca College in Ithaca, New York, just 90 minutes’ drive from his home town of Oswego, New York. He studied Exercise and Sport Science and received his Bachelor of Science (BS) from Ithaca College in 1990. At Ithaca he lettered in Football over four years, winning a Division III National Championship in 1988 and earned All-American honors from his inside linebacker position in 1990. He also won the Richard D. Lyon Memorial Scholarship and was chosen by his peers as team co-captain in 1990.
Having a passion for education, after graduation Colloca enrolled in the Master of Education program at State University College of New York at Oswego and received graduate assistant football coaching offers from Albany State University and Springfield College in Massachusetts. He began taking courses and working in construction—a job that had helped support him throughout his high school and college years. He developed carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms that led him to seek out a local chiropractor.
The chiropractic experience led him to enroll at Life College School of Chiropractic where he graduated four years later cum laude with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree in 1995. He immediately went into private practice two weeks following graduation and also began teaching post-graduate educational courses for chiropractors that same year. “I think I’ve always worked two jobs,” Colloca said. “It’s easy when you love what you do, and it’s the easiest way to get ahead financially,” he added.
Colloca used the funds from the success of his chiropractic practice and post-graduate seminars to start Neuromechanical Innovations, and finance the research and development of a new chiropractic adjusting instrument. Fifteen years later, Colloca finds himself as the CEO overseeing 26 employees and traveling over 200,000 miles annually to provide clinical training to to the doctors who use the Impulse instruments.
Much of the appeal of the use of the Impulse Instruments is the basic science research behind the devices. Over the past 15 years, Colloca has published over 50 papers in some of the best journals in spine science after spearheading a multi-disciplinary research collaboration that has produced a unique team of chiropractors working together with orthopedic surgeons, biomedical engineers, pathologists, and statisticians.
This research has won awards at scientific conferences within the chiropractic field as well as in orthopedics. With the completion of his PhD, he aims to increase his research activities while continuing to develop new technologies to help equip his colleagues advance the chiropractic profession.