Dr. Andria Brooks, chiropractor of Calhoun Chiropractic Center, didn’t always have her eyes set on a career in the medical field.
When she was a high school softball player for Reidland High School in Paducah, Brooks became aware of the chiropractic world due to an incident on the field while she was playing first base.
“A girl on my team threw the ball to me … into the baseline, and I stepped into the baseline and caught the ball to get the runner out,” Brooks said. “(The runner) was trying to beat the throw and running as fast as she (could). (The runner) ducked her head down; her 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 found out she had a bad case of whiplash and a concussion. That led to a life-changing moment.
“The worst headache I ever had in my life turned off like a light switch; it was like magic happened,” said Brooks of her initial treatment. “I went from (not) being able to pick my head up off the pillow to turning my head to talk to my mother in the same room as me. I thought it was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”
Thereafter, Brooks wanted to share that feeling with others.
With 16 years at the center, which concentrates on chiropractic care, rehabilitation and additional therapies, Brooks admitted that lockdowns and restrictions due to COVID brought on some life-changing obstacles.
“Everybody has had their challenges with the pandemic,” she said. “Our office was closed last year for five weeks, which is definitely the longest I’ve been without seeing 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 to have an additional 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 went down.
“Initially, when we first opened back up (in April 2020), it was slower, but it was because we had to do so much to accommodate all the rules and regulations that we had to (follow),” Brooks said. “We couldn’t see as many people as we normally would.”
Brooks said the center had to adjust by having patients wait in the parking lot, requiring temperature checks and having each patient fill out a questionnaire rather than checking themselves in for appointments.
Once restrictions began easing up after several months, Brooks said the center was returning to some type of normalcy, which benefited her and her patients.
“We’re back to seeing just about the same number (of patients) that we saw prior to COVID,” Brooks said. “People are glad to be able to do their treatments and be here because, honestly, there’s not another good alternative that is natural the way that our treatment is. One of the main reasons people like to see a chiropractor is because they don’t want to have to take any more medications … . And when you take the major provider of that opportunity away, it’s hard on them.”
Brooks said some patients attempted to seek out pain management clinics as a substitute, but admits the methods differ greatly in terms of treatment. Telehealth was also not an option due to the nature of chiropractic care, which caused some of her patients to go without treatment.
“That was hard to deal with — for any of us, knowing that I could have taken care of them but I couldn’t,” Brooks said. “I was not allowed.”
But Brooks remains positive despite the uncertainty of rising COVID rates across the Commonwealth. The center is planning on having its annual Kids Fest on Sept. 11 at Myer Creek Park after canceling it last year and will continue to hold 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, taking measures to sanitize regularly and keeping the waiting area socially-distanced.
While the future remains in the balance, Brooks wants her patients to know that she is not going anywhere.
“We’re going to be here as much as we can for our patients,” she said. “If we have to deal with different kinds of restrictions, then we just have to deal with them and do the best we can.
“That’s one of our goals — to help improve the health of people in McLean County.”