Dr. Andria Brooks, chiropractor at the Calhoun Chiropractic Center, didn’t always have a career in the medical field in mind.
While she was a softball player at Reidland High School in Paducah, Brooks was introduced to the world of chiropractic through an incident on the field.
“A girl on my team threw me the ball … on the baseline and I stepped on the baseline and caught the ball to get the runner out,” Brooks said. “(The runner) tried to hit the throw and ran as fast as she (could). (The runner) bowed her head; her helmet (hits) my forehead. Square connection. “
Brooks did the piece, but she could barely get out of bed the next day. After her mother, a nurse, made an appointment with a chiropractor, Brooks found out she had severe whiplash and a concussion. That led to a life changing moment.
“The worst headache I’ve ever had in my life went off like a light switch; it was like magic happened, ”said Brooks of her first treatment. “I went from (not) being able to lift my head off the pillow to turn my head to speak to my mother in the same room as me. I thought it was the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. “
After that, Brooks wanted to share that feeling with others.
With 16 years at the center focusing on chiropractic, rehabilitation, and additional therapies, Brooks admitted that bans and restrictions due to COVID came with some life-changing barriers.
“Everyone had their challenges with the pandemic,” she said. “Our practice was closed for five weeks last year, which is definitely the longest time I haven’t seen my patients. Ever. 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 in order to have an additional fabric barrier between the patient and me. It just took longer to do everything … It adds up. “
The number of patients Brooks saw regularly also decreased.
“Initially when we reopened (April 2020) it was slower, but it was because we had to do so much to meet all the rules and regulations that we had to (obey),” said Brooks. “We couldn’t see as many people as we normally would.”
Brooks said the center must adapt by keeping patients waiting in the parking lot, requiring temperature controls, and each patient filling out a questionnaire instead of checking in for appointments themselves.
When the restrictions subsided after several months, Brooks said the center was returning to a kind of normalcy that she and her patients benefited from.
“We’re seeing roughly the same number (of patients) again as we were before COVID,” Brooks said. “People are happy to be able to do their treatments and to be here because, to be honest, there is no other good alternative that is as natural as our treatment. One of the main reasons people like to see a chiropractor is because they no longer want to take any medication…. And if you take this opportunity from the big provider, it’s difficult for them. “
Brooks said that some patients have attempted replacement pain therapy clinics, but admits that methods of treatment vary widely. Telemedicine was also out of the question due to the nature of chiropractic care, which resulted in some of their patients being left without treatment.
“That was hard to do – for any of us, knowing 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 hold its annual Kids Fest at Myer Creek Park on September 11th after it was canceled last year, and will continue its toy drive for the McLean County Christmas for Kids after Thanksgiving.
Brooks said that safety is still a priority for her patients and staff by taking regular disinfection measures and keeping the waiting area socially distant.
With the future in the air, Brooks wants her patients to know there is nowhere she is going.
“We will be there for our patients as much as possible,” she said. “When 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 improve the health of the people of McLean County.”