The main thing is ensuring that the wellness doctor is transparent about the need for wellness care from the beginning
Wellness has become embedded in the health care lexicon as patients seek a wellness doctor that can provide a whole-health concept rather than one specialty.
We interviewed Coty Spraggs, DC, of Adjusted Life Chiropractic in Lake Saint Louis, Mo., about adding wellness to a chiropractic practice. Since they opened at their current location about a year ago, Spraggs says as a wellness doctor they’ve been transitioning patients to wellness care.
What follows is our interview, edited for length and clarity.
Why did you decide to add wellness to your practice?
The main reason is that I am very objective and research driven. We have research with enough data that suggests that if people don’t maintain their function with wellness care, they are significantly more likely to return to their original condition. Just like a vehicle that runs a lot of miles, the more miles the person puts on their “vehicle,” the more they are going to need wellness care.
The other reason is we know that people continue to put the same stresses on their bodies (same stooped position at the keyboard, construction workers working overhead, etc.) which leads to the same issues that they have developed before. We get people as close to their “perfect” baseline as possible and then keep them there. That way they maintain the most function that they can.
What kinds of wellness — from nutrition and weight counseling or laser therapy or something else — did you add to your business as a wellness doctor?
We always encourage nutrition because we know that the foods we eat are void of most of the micronutrients needed to maintain the body. However, we also do traction as we know this is the best method for helping discs to rehydrate as well as put the proper curvatures back into the spine. These curvatures are very important — we know this through research — for avoiding mild to severe complications in life.
We have also added neuromuscular re-education (NMR). This helps to re-educate the nervous system and musculoskeletal system on where to properly hold the body (posture) to help alleviate the stresses that people are putting on their bodies from day to day.
What advice would you give to other chiropractors who are thinking about incorporating added wellness services to their practices?
I think the first thing is recognizing that true care of our patients means that wellness care must be recommended. After we establish that, we must then identify what types of patients we are wanting to see.
If we are wanting to mainly see the elderly, then we need to focus on things that help with body awareness and balance. If we are wanting to see only athletes, then we will need to have things that aid in recovery as well as continued training their body sense, balance, and eye-hand coordination.
What are the biggest mistakes that chiropractors can make when starting to add wellness services to their practices?
The main thing is ensuring that the wellness doctor is transparent about the need for wellness care from the beginning. If we don’t do this and then “blindside” our patients, they will lose trust in us. Making sure to be clear communicators is very, very important.
For example, you can say something like: “Mrs. Smith, during your corrective care we are pushing to get you as close to your highest level of function that we possibly can. This is going to take more repetitions. After we get you to your highest level of function, that is when we are going to make sure to not lose all the improvements we made with all of our hard work. That is going to be through what we call ‘wellness care.’”
I think that ensuring you understand why wellness care is so important is a great step. The good news is, we have a lot of research that focuses on just this. While the patient feeling better is great, it isn’t the end-all-be-all. We need to ensure that they are functioning to their fullest while also making sure that they feel good. This has to be through objective and subjective findings.
Sometimes, patients have been dealing with pain for so long that they almost have to “allow” themselves to get better. They may think or say that they feel the same, but when you show them that their range of motion has doubled and that their posture has improved, they have a new attitude on life.