Calhoun Chiropractic Center chiropractor Dr. Andria Brooks hasn’t always had her eyes set on a career in medicine.
When she was a softball player at Reidland High School in Paducah, Brooks first became aware of the world of chiropractic due to an incident on the field while playing on first base.
“A girl on my team threw the ball at me… in the baseline, and I went into the baseline and grabbed the ball to get the runner out,” said Brooks. “(The runner) was trying to beat the pitch and run as fast as she (could). (The runner) bowed his head; his helmet (hit) my forehead. Square connection.
Brooks made the play, but she could barely get out of bed the next day. After her mother, a nurse, made an appointment with a chiropractor, Brooks discovered she had a severe whiplash and concussion. It led to a life changing moment.
“The worst headache I have ever had in my life went off like a switch; it was like magic had happened, ”Brooks said of his initial treatment. “I went from (not) being able to lift my head from the pillow to turning my head to talk to my mom in the same room as me. I thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.
Brooks subsequently wanted to share this feeling with others.
With 16 years at the center, which focuses on chiropractic care, rehabilitation and additional therapies, Brooks admitted that the lockdowns and restrictions due to COVID have created life-changing barriers.
“Everyone has had their challenges with the pandemic,” she said. “Our office was closed last year for five weeks, which is certainly the longest time I have spent without seeing my patients. Already. But we came back and it was very restrictive… we had to wear gloves and masks, we had to cover my patients with a… towel to have an extra fabric barrier between the patients and myself. It just took longer to do everything …. It adds up.
The number of patients Brooks saw on a regular basis also declined.
“Initially when we first reopened (in April 2020) it was slower, but it was because we had to do a lot to adapt to all the rules and regulations that we had to (follow)” Brooks said. “We couldn’t see as many people as we would normally see. “
Brooks said the center has had to adapt by making patients wait in the parking lot, requiring temperature checks and asking each patient to complete a questionnaire rather than registering for appointments.
Once the restrictions began to ease after several months, Brooks said the center was returning to some sort of normalcy, which benefited her and her patients.
“We’re back to seeing roughly the same number (of patients) that we saw before COVID,” Brooks said. “People are happy to be able to have their treatments and to be here because, frankly, there is no other good alternative that is as natural as our treatment. One of the main reasons people like seeing a chiropractor is that they don’t want to have to take any more medication…. And when you remove the primary vendor from that opportunity, it’s hard on them.
Brooks said some patients have tried looking for pain management clinics as a surrogate, but admits the methods differ significantly in terms of treatment. Telehealth was also not an option due to the nature of chiropractic care, which forced some of her patients to go without treatment.
“It was hard to handle – for all of us, knowing that I could have taken care of them but I couldn’t,” said Brooks. “I was not allowed.”
But Brooks remains positive despite the uncertainty of rising COVID rates in the Commonwealth. The center plans to have its annual Kids Fest on September 11 at Myer Creek Park after canceling it last year and will continue to hold its McLean County children’s Christmas toy drive after Thanksgiving.
Brooks said safety is always a priority for its patients and staff, taking steps to disinfect regularly and keeping the waiting area at a social distance.
While the future hangs in the balance, Brooks wants her patients to know she’s not going anywhere.
“We’re going to be there as much as possible for our patients,” she said. “If we have to deal with different kinds of restrictions, we just have to deal with them and do our best.
“It’s one of our goals: to help improve the health of the people of McLean County. “