Chiropractic, Atlanta

Black Doctors Challenge Misconceptions And Increase Diversity In Chiropractic Field

Aligned 4 Life Wellness is changing the landscape of chiropractic care.

Doctors Joseph Fowler Jr. and Brandon K. Williams founded Aligned 4 Life Wellness in Atlanta with the hopes of changing the way chiropractic therapy is viewed and providing access to under-resourced groups. The two innovators spoke to BLACK ENTERPRISE about their unconventional use of modern technology, the need for more Black people in the field, and how they are challenging common misconceptions about their work.

“As it stands today, the chiropractic profession is less than 2.5% Black, meaning that less than 2.5% of providers within the profession are African American,” said Williams. “So it has been our charge and our mission to tackle that disparity, increase the representation amongst African Americans and other people — people of color — within the profession. Through [our] philanthropic RMIT Nonprofit Foundation, we started a scholarship program geared toward those people of color, particularly African Americans, who wish to pursue an education in chiropractic.”

With this initiative, Fowler and Williams have helped offer more opportunities to aspiring and underrepresented chiropractors. 

“It started in grad school together because we noticed the difference in the number of Blacks, male or female, versus whites or any others in grad school,” Fowler added. “And so the graduation rate is significantly lower for us for many reasons. It could be academics. It could be finances or whatever. But when the graduation rate is lower and our numbers begin lower, we saw the need, and being able to offer scholarships is part of our purpose.”

This focus on inclusivity has encouraged the doctors to invest in their communities in an effort to introduce more people to their craft and ease hesitancy regarding chiropractic treatment, which has been plagued by assumptions. 

“I think one of the greatest misnomers, if you will, is that chiropractic is harmful to the body or it can cause damage to the body or it can be dangerous or anything like that,” explained Williams. “But I always say this: Going to your chiropractor is no more dangerous to you going to see your primary care physician. We practice and utilize safe techniques. We go through some of the same education and training that medical doctors do. The first two years of chiropractic school are in many cases synonymous with the first two years of medical school.” 

While there are similarities, there are still significant distinctions between the practices. For one, chiropractors do not perform surgery. Rather, that responsibility is reserved for specific medical practitioners. Still, chiropractors like Fowler and Williams are especially well versed in toxicology, which is a vital aspect of their practice as it allows them to understand how their clients’ medication will interact with their adjustments. 

Another misguided notion about the career is that it is a simple massage rather than a realignment. The doctors elaborated on the science behind their work and challenged this reductive view of the profession.

“When we get through working on you, you will feel like you have a massage, because as chiropractors, we work on the nervous system…When chiropractic is done properly, we work on the nervous system, especially the central nervous system, which consists of the brain and spinal cord, all your other systems, hormones, immune, respiratory, reproductive, muscular, skeletal [and] urinary. It doesn’t matter. They all run off of that central nervous system,” Fowler shared.

In their comprehensive overview of chiropractic care, Fowler and Williams have successfully built a multidisciplinary network of nutritionists, trainers, and other professionals to help provide their patients with additional care.

One thing that separates Aligned 4 Life Wellness from its peers is its implementation of modern technology, which is considerably less traditional within the field of chiropractic therapy. “We have a state-of-the-art facility with state-of-the-art equipment because, one, we want to be able to offer the best of what we have to people of color that are living in underrepresented areas where chiropractic is not usually available. That’s no. 1,” said Williams.

“No. 2, we have these state of the art technologies because we want to be able to not only reach and treat these people, but allow them to get the best results at a much faster rate than they may get utilizing other means,” he continued. Infrared heat therapy, spinal decompression, intersegmental traction and digital X-rays are just some of the tools that Fowler and Williams have incorporated to expedite processes that would typically take days to generate results.

For people considering chiropractic care, the doctors offered some simple words of advice: Don’t be afraid to try. “First and foremost, be open-minded. The sick-care model that we utilize is not true healthcare at all. It is a reactive model to sickness and illness and disease. It is not true healthcare. So the model that chiropractic adopts is a true healthcare model. So you’ve got to think outside the box,” said Williams. 

“Many come to us as a last resort, but they realize that we are taking a different approach. We are looking at your body comprehensively, because we are one holistic organism with many individual parts that work collectively, so you have to look at all those individual parts as a collective and not compartmentalize.”