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My Chiropractic Story

Robert Monokian

In Junior High School I was on the wrestling team. I was wrestling a team mate at practice and he picked me up and threw me on my head. I instantly felt a sharp pain in my neck and shoulder and all the way down my arm felt like I was shocked by electricity. I could not move my arm and my whole arm tingled. Over a short period of time I regained movement and the pain and tingling went away. I was taken to the hospital and released after x-rays and the fact that I felt better.

I played football my freshman year without any injuries. I did not think about the Junior High incidence until my sophomore year of high school. I was playing with the varsity players. Our team turned out to be undefeated that year. We were a group IV team meaning we played the best teams in South Jersey. I had the honor that year of bouncing off the thigh of Franco Harris at a preseason scrimmage. He later played in the NFL for the Pittsburg Steelers. I was on the kick off team that year and backup running back and safety. It was on a kickoff that I made the tackle and the same pain occurred that occurred in Junior High. The pain and numbness subsided within a few minutes. I was experiencing the pain weekly and during my wrestling season. I had a constant ache in my neck and shoulder but not enough to stop me from playing. My family doctor told me to stop playing football or I would numb out the nerve in my neck from the constant irritation it would scar the nerve and I would not be able to use my arm. The trainer for the team was a physical therapist. He did ultrasound to my neck and they fixed up a collar for my neck, so it would not go back and irritate the nerves. That did not help. I went to the team doctor, an Osteopath and he put heat packs on my neck. That did not help. My junior year I went to the doctor of the Philadelphia Eagles football team. I would wait three hours to see him in a very plush office. I would then be taken to a room where I sat on an examine table facing a line of syringes. I would get a shot of 1/2 cortisone and 1/2 his own concoction in my neck, upper trapezius and shoulder every other week for three months. That year I went through another three months of the same treatment. Neither sets of treatment worked.

By the summer before my senior year I told my father I did not think I could play football or wrestle any longer. The pain was still a low grade ache but the shooting pain and numbness was occurring more frequently with less provocation. My father, a heck of an athlete in high school. As a Marine in WWII he was a Purple Heart recipient from getting shot in the back, fighting the Japanese in the pacific Islands and an avid hand ball player and golfer. I guess you could call him a bad ass. As a last resort he said "let's try my chiropractor. He fixes my back, maybe he can fix your neck".

My dad took me to Camden NJ. One of the worst cities in the US. The chiropractor sent me for x-rays and showed me how my spine was misaligned. In about three visits, I no longer had the ache in my neck. I was able to captain my football team, play running back, safety, return punts and kickoffs and run down on kickoffs and punts to get the runner. I was also able to wrestle pain free my senior year. I would get occasional adjustments by the chiropractor if I felt any type of ache.

My goal after high school was to become a FBI agent. I was told that I should get a degree in Accounting or become a Lawyer as the FBI was favoring hiring with these degrees. I decided on accounting and obtained a degree in accounting.

By my senior year I learned my aunt had been arrested in her younger years as a communist for leading the first union strike in the garment district of NYC and was being told my chances of getting past this family history would be difficult and I no longer had that drive to become an FBI agent and I was not thrilled with being an accountant. Through a chain of events I was invited to visit a new chiropractic school in South Carolina. I was instantly drawn to the profession as I had experienced great success with being adjusted.

One thing was for sure. I was determined to know as much as I could about being a chiropractor. I realized my freshman year that there was a teacher that was a chiropractor and had office hours in the afternoon and early evenings that was one of the most successful chiropractors in St. Louis. He would take on students to help him take notes and book patients. My sophomore year I introduced myself and asked if I could work for him. He said he did not need any students at that time. Periodically I'd see him in the hall and ask if he needed anyone and the answer was always no. Finally, at the start of my junior year I asked and he said, can you be there tonight and I said yes. I worked for Dr. Hanicke for 2 years, twice a week and I took his 100 hour certification in Applied Kinesiology twice. I would take role and watch everyone's belongings as they went to lunch and I got the courses for free. I continued taking post graduate seminars for many years. I branched off AK to start learning all I could about sports injuries. I knew that learning how to get athletes back in the game, as soon as possible with the least likelihood of reinjuring themselves, could apply to my general population of patients. I took a 100 hour course to become a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician that morphed into a three hundred hour course where we had to sit for a final exam and be published in a refereed journal. This was at a time there were no on-line courses. I would have to travel to NY on 30 weekends for ten hours of lecture over three years. I also took the ACSM Team Physician Course that was three one week seminars in Arizona. I was a trainer for the local high school and the team physician would have me cover for him at numerous games. I wanted to make sure I was as well credentialed as possible. I took many other post graduate seminars on a litany of subjects.

In Applied Kinesiology we learned to look at a patient's health as a three sided triangle. Each side of the triangle represented either the structure of the patient or the nutritional component and the emotional or mental aspect. Each side being equal in their importance and each side being able to affect the other sides. So if one side was not functioning correctly it would alter the function of the others. As I took all these seminars and read an abundance of books about the human body I modified my approach to patients. Through sports injury and prevention courses I realized in order for my adjustments to the spine and soft tissue work with muscles and fascia to have a lasting effect exercise instruction had to be part of my care. I listened to patients that complained about having to come back to me over and over. They felt good with care but the time and money out of their lives became a burden and stress in and of itself. I also realized that I would not like to go to anyone over and over. I would like them to teach me what they do and I would do it, in order to not be burdened with repeatedly driving to an office to receive repetitive treatment. I have found that exercise, designed for patients’ individual needs, reduced the need for chiropractic care. What happened was I would see patients less often, be able to see more patients, and get more referrals. So, it was a win - win for patients and my practice.

I have been in practice for over 40 years and have learned numerous techniques to help patients reach their health goals in a time and cost-effective manner. I work with my son Dr. Jake Monokian, also a chiropractor, and enjoy passing on the knowledge I’ve gained over these years.

See My Nutrition Story for the rest of the story.