by Shaun Tilghman
Joel Harman, D.C., recently took the reins at Manchester Family Chiropractic, located at 110 N. Walnut St., following the retirement of former owner Dr. David Rodriguez. Dr. Harman practices the same techniques as his predecessor, but he also incorporates a more multidisciplinary approach when it comes to patient care.
Although he grew up in a family where visits to the chiropractor were the norm, and he himself relied on a chiropractor’s services multiple times, Dr. Harman didn’t have an interest in a career in chiropractics until high school.
“My chiropractor back home was very sports oriented, and he was even the team physician for a lot of sports teams in the area,” Harman said. “During my junior year of basketball I suffered a very severe ankle injury. I did the rehab with my physical therapist for 6-8 weeks and at that time it was feeling okay and I could stand on it, but as far as mobility it was very limited. My chiropractor then asked me to let him adjust my ankle.
“At first I was hesitant because I thought chiropractors only worked on backs and necks, but then he said something that was very profound: ‘You twisted your ankle, but who untwisted it for you?’ I realized it made sense, so he adjusted my ankle and right away I had full range of motion again—it was amazing. I was 16 or 17 years old then, and at that point my knowledge of chiropractics was very limited, so he really opened my eyes to how much more chiropractics can offer. In the end, that’s what really fueled me to pursue a career in chiropractic.”
Harman grew up in a small, farm town in Van Wert, Ohio, and there were 52 people in his high school graduating class. He attended the University of Toledo and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Science. He then earned his doctorate from the National University of Health Sciences, a chiropractic school in Chicago, Ill.
After practicing in Fort Wayne for a year and a half, Harman admits he was looking for an option that would allow him to get out on his own when some friends suggested he look into North Manchester. “I kind of describe this situation as an answer to a prayer, because at that point I didn’t even know where North Manchester was,” he added.
“So, I came to town on a Friday afternoon in mid-October to get a feel for things around here,” Harman continued. “While in town I met with [Dr. Charles Kelsey and Dr. Vicki Kelsey] and found out they were closing their office (Manchester Chiropractic Center) at the end of the month to move closer to family. I wasn’t sure I could be ready for the transition in that short of a turnaround, so I stopped to meet with Dr. David Rodriguez as well. He told me he was retiring at the end of the year and I immediately asked what he was going to do with his practice and his patients. We then began talking about me possibly buying the building, and he went on to say that he would love to have someone to take over his patients.”
Now that Harman has established himself with a local practice, he hopes to expand people’s knowledge of chiropractics just as his chiropractor did for him.
“Chiropractics is my passion and it’s what I love to do,” he explained. “Once I became interested in healthcare and what I can do to affect it, I wanted to focus on chiropractics not only because it’s considered an alternative medicine, but because it’s also a natural medicine. We’re not doing surgeries or giving injections or even prescribing medications, although we do have supplements that we can use to help people with certain ailments or conditions.
“For me that really struck a chord, because the medical world we’re living in, and have been living in for the past 40-50 years, is what I call ‘sickcare.’ We think of it as healthcare, but really people are only treated once they’re sick, and I want to be on the other end of the spectrum. I want to be on the healthcare end—I want to promote health and prevent sickness. My degree is in sports medicine, and I love that part of it; so there’s that sports realm that I love, but all you have to do is read the sign out front to hopefully understand that I want to promote health and wellness for families in the community.”
Harman went on to say that more and more now people are looking for alternatives to their medical doctors in certain situations, and that goes along with his main goal of expanding people’s views on chiropractics. “Honestly, chiropractics encompass more than just the back and neck; it deals with a lot of different issues, such as migraines, headaches, digestive issues, insomnia, or problems with extremities,” he added.
“I’ve adjusted people’s necks for migraines and headaches, and I’ve adjusted backs, knees, ankles, and hips,” Harman continued. “Basically, if two bones come together to make a joint, we can adjust it. There are really two main techniques: the Activator Method and manual adjustments. I have training in both, which is a big draw for new patients that aren’t sure which they would prefer.
“I also incorporate a lot of muscle work and rehab into my treatment plans, which I think is crucial. If people are just getting adjusted that’s great, because it’s our number one tool, but what attaches to all of those bones: muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, etc. So, in my mind you have to address those as well, otherwise you’re only doing half of your job.”
According to Dr. Harman, as far as he knows he’s the only chiropractor within 100 miles of Fort Wayne that is certified in the McKenzie Method, which was developed by a physical therapist and deals specifically with herniated discs. He is also a certified Kinesio Tape Practitioner, which is a taping technique used for joint fixation, overuse of muscles, lymphatic drainage, improving circulation, etc.
“I completed several hundred hours of post-grad work and passed exams in order to receive national certification in each of those techniques,” Harman explained. “In my opinion, the McKenzie Method and the Kinesio Tape working in conjunction with the chiropractic and the rehab helps me achieve such good results with my patients—it’s the whole multidisciplinary approach.
“As far as the McKenzie Method, research has shown it to be much more effective than surgery or injections because you can literally move that slipped or herniated disc back into place; so it’s just an awesome technique. Kinesiology Tape is not new by any means – it’s been around since probably the 70s—but it’s recently become very popular in the sports world. It works very well if there is any sort of dysfunctional movement because you can kind of turn on muscle groups that weren’t working very well, as well as turning overused muscle groups off neurologically.”
In the end, Dr. Harman once again stressed that his main objective is to promote health and wellness. “I would even like to work with the Parks & Recreation Department, the public library, and the schools to hold promotional events like a health and wellness fair,” he concluded. “I just want people to take care of their body and live life to the fullest potential—I want to be part of that.”
Harman hopes to hold an open house in the near future so people can come get to know him, as well as to celebrate Dr. Rodriguez’s retirement. Walk-ins are welcome at Manchester Family Chiropractic and the office hours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon; and Saturday by appointment. The phone number is still 260-982-2008, and the business website is coming soon at www.manchesterfamily.net