GAYLORD — How does a small-town chiropractic clinic stay on the cutting edge when it comes to treatment?
Well, having strong connections to a National Football League athletic trainer certainly doesn’t hurt.
Dr. Ted Arkfeld, owner of Arkfeld Advanced Chiropractic (AAC), 860 N. Center Ave., has learned the importance of establishing valuable relationships and utilizing them to better treat the community in which he serves.
Much of the treatment equipment and strategies Arkfeld uses comes from the personal recommendations of professionals at the highest organizations in their field.
Gaylord native Peter Aune, athletic training assistant to the New Orleans Saints, has helped provide Arkfeld, a chiropractor with over 30 years of experience himself, guidance and advice on new and innovative equipment in the injury rehab and prevention field.
Following his move to Gaylord in 2001, Arkfeld immediately began working with Gaylord athletics as a volunteer. He switched to a couple of different chiropractic organizations before finally establishing his own private practice in 2009.
The latest treatment Arkfeld is utilizing is a program called Canary Concussion.
Arkfeld has seen increased scrutinization on concussions in both athletics and everyday life in recent years and has found what he believes to be a concussion evaluation game changer, especially in athletics.
For years, Arkfeld, along with a majority of professional and collegiate athletic programs, has used the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool 5 (SCAT5) as his primary evaluation for concussions.
SCAT5 involves a number of evaluation components such as immediate observations, memory and balance assessments and baseline testing. Canary Concussion provides immediate results to concussion tests through its use of a mobile device application.
“The whole basis for Canary is that instead of writing down the response on the baseline concussion testing, you record it on a phone or device,” Arkfeld said. “The guys that created this program have been instrumental in the development of Amazon Echo technology and Apple Siri.”
According to Arkfeld, the technology behind Echo and Siri has been utilized in other life applications, even saying with 96 percent certainty if a person has Alzheimer’s disease based on biomarkers in speech patterns.
“It (Canary) follows SCAT5 and is the same test we did on paper,” Arkfeld said. “It automatically gives you a score from the voice recording.
“If a kid is suspected of having a concussion, you take them back to the locker room and do the test,” he said. “Since we already have their baseline tests done, the app tells us if they’re a couple points lower and if they don’t pass the balance testing, we know they probably have a concussion and won’t be allowed to play.”
The immediate availability of results allows Arkfeld to essentially fast-track his testing results, something he says has been his biggest challenge in concussion testing.
“What’s nice about this (Canary) is that we always used to have to do the paper exams,” he said. “We used to have a student trainer do the exam, but kids started memorizing the five-word sequence test from SCAT5.”
Arkfeld credited Aune and his high-level experience with the Saints for providing the concussion treatment protocol he has used with Gaylord athletics the past few years.
“Our protocol is if a player is suspected of a concussion, they’re going right to the locker room,” Aune said. “We eliminate as much stimulation as possible.
“They (team doctors) do their concussion evaluation in the locker room. The test goes along the lines of the SCAT5 and they do a couple other things as well.”
Arkfeld’s use of Canary is just another tool in his long list of rehab and prevention strategies, many of which have resulted from his relationship with Aune.
“About three years ago, I saw that the University of Nebraska had a tour of its sports medicine department on YouTube and they had about eight of these devices called BioWave,” Arkfeld said. “I sent Pete a text and he told me every NFL team and most Division I college teams have it.”
Arkfeld purchased the device the same day Aune texted him.
BioWave is similar to a muscle stimulation device, but actually gets down to pain receptors in the body and blocks the pain reception.
“We use it every day and players like it a lot,” Aune said.
Even outside athletics, BioWave and other tools Arkfeld utilizes have significant effects.
“The VA (U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) is beginning to recommend this (BioWave) as a replacement for opioid therapy,” Arkfeld said. “They are dispensing the portable units out to veterans who are in chronic pain.”
Another equipment recommendation to come directly from Aune is NormaTec, a device placed on the body’s extremities that acts similar to a pulsating blood pressure cuff, helping to recover faster between workouts by reducing muscle soreness and improving circulation, according to NormaTec’s website.
Arkfeld is proud of his ability to provide patients with equipment not widely available in Michigan.
“We have stuff here that nobody else has in Michigan,” he said. “Something like HIVAMAT is only used by two other chiropractic clinics in Michigan — one in Warren and one in Southfield — both of which were my clients.”
HIVAMAT is a device that uses the effects of an electrostatic field to provide pain relief and relax muscles, similar to a deep tissue massage, according to Arkfeld.
For Arkfeld, his main goal has always been to help people simply get well and get better every day. He even designed and implemented a speed and agility training facility in the basement of his clinic to coach athletes and improve their mobility and movement.
He continues to build and utilize relationships to provide the latest in technology and treatment modalities to athletes and normal, everyday people.