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Practitioner wants to modernize common view with new equipment

SEPTEMBER 09, 2012 12:00 AM • KIP DAVIS

Dr. Scott Heun nodded approvingly as the patient pushed hard against a padded bar attached to what seemed to be a typical exercise machine. But the bar didn’t move and, after just five seconds, Heun gave the patient a thumbs- up and told him to relax.

A second-generation chiropractor, Heun and his new BStrong4Life Napa Valley office shatter the stereotype of his chosen profession. An exercise apparatus with an immov- able bar called the Core4, Heun said, is one example of how chiropractic medi- cine is expanding its role in treating society’s aches, pains and other serious maladies.

“Yes, it’s chiropractic,” Heun said, “but BStrong is probably the most modern advancement in applying a conservative approach to address clearly 80 percent of what affects mankind ... that is, neuromuscu- loskeletal or mostly mus- culoskeletal problems involving joints, muscles and posture.”

Heun opened BStrong4Life Napa Valley this summer in the same building on Jefferson Street where his chiroprac- tor father, Dr. Richard J. Heun, practiced for nearly 40 years. A 1977 graduate of Justin-Siena High School, the younger Heun has been a chiropractor and certified chiropractic sports physician for more than two decades. After first practicing in Pinole and later in Illinois, he returned to Napa in July.

The Napa center is part of the national BStrong4Life company co- founded by Heun and Dr. Perry Cammisa in 2010. Based in Woodridge, Ill., the company is organized as an “add-on franchise,” Heun said, and is awaiting approval as an official franchise operation. There are 17 BStrong4Life centers throughout the U.S., including the Napa loca- tion, that are owned and operated by Heun.

The BStrong4Life con- cept focuses on muscular and skeletal strengthening and rehabilitation using a combination of high-tech imaging and innovative techniques tailored to a patient’s specific needs, Heun said. “It’s high-tech and high-touch,” he said, explaining that the process involves a holistic approach that starts with getting to know the patient.

“It’s all about listening to the patient,” he said. “‘What do you want? What do you do? What are your activities?’ Then I can bet- ter guide the patient with the tool set that I have.”

That “tool set” includes patented machines and equipment like the Core4 apparatus that have been customized for use in the BStrong4Life program. The Core4 machine, Heun said, allows him to precise- ly target and monitor mus- cle stimulation during four basic isometric exercises typically performed for five seconds each, once per week.

Heun said the exercises target myofibrils — basic rod-like units of a muscle — and help to effectively build strength without the higher impact of tradition- al weight training or exer- cise.

Another machine called Power Plate uses whole- body vibration to stimulate muscles. Patients stand or perform exercise move- ments on the unit as the Power Plate platform vibrates from 30 to 50 times per second. Heun said this induces a contin- uous stretch reflex in tar- geted muscles, helping to strengthen the tissues with less stress and strain than conventional strength training. The center’s “protocol” also includes more traditional chiropractic services including spinal manipula- tion and other manual treatment techniques. High-tech weight- bearing X-ray imaging is another tool used by Heun in evalu- ating conditions and mon- itoring patient progress.
Heun said that like health care in general, much has changed in the chiropractic world since his father opened his Napa practice in 1962.

“At that time,” he said, “my father was one of the first chiropractors in Cali- fornia to have X-ray and to do standing, weight-bear- ing X-ray. Up until about 20 years ago the medical side of the aisle was asking ‘What’s the point (of weight-bearing X-rays)? We’re just looking at the bones.’ Well, gravity has a pretty profound effect on the human body.”

Heun said that today, the medical industry regards seated, weight-bearing MRI technology as state- of-the-art for evaluating back pain and other mus- culoskeletal problems.

“When you’re lying down is when you feel the best. When you’re seated the most load is there, and when you’re standing a lit- tle less, but still people are in more pain than lying down. So if someone is in a weight-bearing position and you do a scan, the data is different.”

Acknowledging a long- standing conflict between traditional medicine and alternative practices such as chiropractic, Heun believes there is more cooperation today between the two disciplines and that this is ultimately good for patients.

“By working together we candoalot,”he said.

Heun’s practice targets a wide range of maladies that include chronic aches and pains, injuries, posture issues and osteoporosis.

“If you can improve somebody’s posture,” he offers as an example, “you can change their digestion over time ... improve their energy level or help with sleep apnea.”

While many of his patients are aging baby boomers looking to extend an active lifestyle, Heun said, others are seeking treatment for chronic con- ditions that may directly impair their present and future quality of life.

“What if we know somebody that has a short leg, either functional — like from a badly sprained ankle — or anatomic?,” he said. “What if we normalize that now, when he is young, and minimize the long-term impact? Do you think we may avoid a hip replace- ment later on? Yeah.”

In that case, Heun said, the patient would be avoiding a major surgical procedure that frequently results in complications or death.

“If you can avoid having your body invaded by sur- gery or chronically having to take medication, you’re going to be better off,” he said.

While some BStrong4Life services are covered by health insur- ance plans, Heun said many patients pay directly for treatments and pro- grams.

“The greater majority of people today are paying for their health care because the deductibles are so high or the (covered) services are so limited,” he said. “We have a policy here that we never turn anybody away purely for financial reasons. If you’re commit- ted to trying to get better, we want to be your doctor for life.”