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“Want to adjust me?”

by on November 9, 2012
1st Trimester chiropractic student

A 1st Trimester NYCC student on his way to a technique class, model spine in tow. Only at chiropractic college.

From my experience, there is really only one way to react to learning that a friend has become a chiropractic student.

“Oh, good! Because I was letting the cat out last night and when I opened the door there was this feeling in my shoulder and you know, it has just been bothering me ever since. Want to take a shot at it?”

I myself have had this offer from friends, relatives, coworkers, loose acquaintances, and nearby strangers. And while I appreciate the job security that these abundant future patients offer, with only two months of schooling behind me I am unfortunately not yet ready to lay them down on the nearest table and run through the appropriate diagnostics and adjustments.

Our current classes are primarily basic sciences, but they also include two introductory technique courses. The first is Introduction to Palpation, which embodies “hands-on” learning in its most literal sense. We arrive to class wearing patient gowns, fastened in the back and along the shoulders with Velcro to allow easy access for seeing and feeling bone formations, soft tissue structures, joints, and the qualities and relative locations of each. The professor, a practicing chiropractor herself, familiarizes us with each of these bodily structures and how to detect them in vivo. Gradually, each landmark becomes easier to find as we work our way around the room, using our fellow students as models.

One of the side effects of this class is more than a few moments of hesitation. Early on, it was palpating around vertebra T6 on the women, which is almost invariably obscured by a bra strap. More recently, it was seeking out structures of the buttocks and groin region, including the frontal joint of the hip bone, the pubic symphysis. It may be a bit of a touchy situation, but these are common areas of injury in sports and elsewhere, exemplified recently by Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, who received surgery for an abdominal tear in the groin region early this month. In class we have the opportunity to get any hesitancy out of the way, and learn how to ensure patient comfort any time we must treat these more personal areas. Touch is inherent to the profession, so we learn to make it therapeutic.

Our other technique class is the rather ambiguously named Psychomotor Skills. Here we drill all the techniques that we will learn to use in adjustments during subsequent trimesters. During each class we break into stations for strengthening exercises, new technique instruction, and review drills for previous moves. Initially, we practiced the thrusts on toggling ‘speeder boards,’ which look like small sections of a chiropractic table, with a lump in the middle representing a bony segment. More recently, we transitioned to setting up the moves on model spines, and this week for the first time we paired up to set up a technique- without thrusting- on a classmate.

Here at school we do not adjust anyone until later trimesters. Even then, all adjustments must be performed with the direct oversight of a licensed chiropractor, one of our professors.

So no, friend/relative/acquaintance/stranger, I cannot put my classes to use on your stiff neck/sore back/frozen shoulder.

That said, I can hardly wait until I can.

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