New City Chiro: A Whole Body Experience
By Donna Kelly
Dr. Chris Barker’s original career plan was to become a dentist. A growing number of Polk County residents are thankful he opened Lakeland’s New City Chiropractic instead.
In a cheerful office looking more like an upscale gym than a doctor’s office, Barker and his staff are, according to their patients, changing lives with cutting edge technology, a focus on education, and a sincere desire to help people feel better.
“If you’re sick and tired of being sick and tired, there’s a better way,” says Barker, whose patients call him Dr. Chris. “Really, it’s all about hope.”
Hope stems from his focus on wellness rather than sickness.
Diagnosis and treatment are determined using digital X-ray and Myovision, equipment designed to detect and pinpoint abnormal function in the nervous system not visible on X-ray. Treatments involve a combination of hands-on chiropractic adjustments, traction, and lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.
Barker’s enthusiastic, caring manner and advanced practices are drawing new patients every day. Since opening April 1, he’s seen about 300 patients per week in his office in Christina Commons, 6595 S. Florida Ave.
“It’s a real fun atmosphere,” he says.
Alexis Cristofano, a 50-year old former California resident battled pain and movement issues relating to her straight neck for more than four decades before meeting Barker at a Health and Fitness seminar in Orlando. She says visiting Barker’s office last spring was a life-changing experience.
“When I first walked into New City Chiropractic, I was amazed. I had been going to chiropractors for 47 years and had never seen anything like their office ever before. To be honest, it looked much more like a physical therapy establishment than a chiropractor’s office to me,” she says. “After spending just a few minutes there, it was quite obvious to me that this place was something very special.”
She describes the atmosphere as very positive, caring, upbeat, friendly and full of hope.
“It’s somewhere that I just didn’t ever want to leave,” she says.
Barker’s career path changed when he realized the health issues plaguing members of his family weren’t getting better regardless of medical treatment.
These included his own problems stemming from his years of skate boarding as a youth.
“Things I did skate boarding damaged my spine. My head was tilted forward,” he explains. “I tried (prescription) drugs, but it didn’t fix the problem.”
He watched his mother battle cancer and his father fight heart disease. Like his father before him, Barker’s brother has a pacemaker.
“With classic drugs, we became sicker and sicker. We need to change our spine and change the way we eat,” he says.
A native of Long Island, NY, Barker graduated with a pre-med degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University and completed his Doctorate of Chiropractic at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Florida. Certified in spinal correction, he teaches these practices to doctors all over the country.
Now 29, he opened New City Chiropractic in April.
“I’m not trying to make you feel better. I’m trying to find the problem and fix the problem. I’m always looking for the cause of the problem,” he explains. “Why are you struggling? Somewhere your body is causing interference. I’m going for before and after changes.”
Kathryn Koch, 51, will vouch for the success of those before and after changes. She’s been under the chiropractic care for scoliosis since she was 14. When she was in her 20s, a chiropractor told her, “There’s nothing that can be done.”
He was wrong.
A principal at Lanier Upshaw, Koch learned about New City Chiropractic when Dr. Jordan Axe, a chiropractor working with Barker, called requesting information about an insurance program. After hearing what Axe had to say about Barker’s program, Koch scheduled an appointment.
Within three months of her initial appointment, Koch’s spine went from an 80 percent to 40 percent curve as a result of treatment designed specifically to address the curvature in her neck.
“I couldn’t believe the improvement,” she says. “I about went into tears and all my life I’d been told there was nothing I could do.”
Now she’s on a maintenance program.
Koch was so thrilled with her results that she suggested her sister, whose scoliosis was worse than hers, fly down from Kansas to see Barker. After completing the four-day intensive consisting of six-hour days, Koch’s sister feels better and can swallow now, something she did with difficulty before the treatment.
“I want to shout to the world about Chris Barker,” says Koch. “I’m just so blessed he’s in Lakeland.”
Barker’s Philosophy Explained
The problem with conventional medicine, he explains, is the mindset of addressing health issues solely with drugs and surgery.
“But if it worked, (the illness) would stop. In the US we’re getting sicker,” he says. “If you do everything the classic American way, you’re going to get sicker.”
Barker explained the theory behind his practices during a recent nutrition class, one of a series of health-related workshops he holds at his office on a regular basis.
“More people are exercising and eating right, but heart disease and cancer are increasing. What controls every system in the body?” he asks.
His answer: The spine and nerve system.
“If you cut the nerve going to that system, then the system stops – stomach, intestine, digestive system,” he explained to the standing room only crowd. “If your body can’t utilize it, it’s useless.”
According to Barker, as the curve of the spine is lost, the nerves are squashed, preventing them from properly controlling these systems.
“When I start fixing the (spine and nerve) system, nutrition begins to work,” he said, emphasizing his words with hand movements.
Cutting Edge Technology: A Peek Into a Typical Visit
Barker’s patients leave all preconceived notions about chiropractic medicine at the door and enter his office with an open mind. Once treatment begins, he says, patients see a marked improvement.
He begins by getting to know a patient’s daily habits and medical history, including sports activities and childhood injuries.
“I need to understand what they do every day,” he says.
Before he does the first adjustment, Barker takes a digital hospital grade X-ray to use as a guide.
“You don’t know what someone looks like until you have photos, so you take an X-ray,” he explains. “The X-ray tells us what we need to adjust and what not to adjust. Some chiropractors say they can go by feel. I don’t.”
He also uses Myovision, technology designed to detect and pinpoint abnormal function in the nervous system not visible on X-ray.
Treatment comes in three stages during each visit: Mix, fix, and set.
Similar to a warm up before exercise, the mix includes repetitive cervical traction units and wobble discs.
“You’re warming up your body. It gets you ready for the adjustment,” says Barker. “It helps with disc pain, numbness, sciatic problems, and neck pain. It’s opening up all of the spaces.”
Each traction unit is mounted on the wall and consist of ropes and pulleys attached to a collar placed behind a patient’s head. It’s designed to increases range of motion in the lumbar and thoracic spine.
A wobble disc is a looks like a plump rubber-type cushion. Patients do sitting exercises on the wobble disc to increase range of motion in the lumbar and thoracic spine – the upper and middle back – with increased lumbar disc.
The fix consists of the physical adjustments tailored for each patient.
“No two people are alike, no two adjustments are alike,” says Barker.
Adjustments are the structural corrections Barker makes to the spine. He physically moves the bones to the natural state to encourage the organs to work correctly.
These adjustments, made using equipment he designed, are based on the patient’s X-rays. He describes the X-rays as the blueprint for adjustments.
“With structural correction, we’re changing the bones and ligaments structure,” he says. “It can reduce scoliosis, kyphosis – or hunch back – and anterior head carriage, therefore improving the body’s ability to function properly.”
This correction, Barker explains, improves the body’s ability to function properly.
But Barker doesn’t stop there.
“The number one thing that makes us different is this: Most people go to a chiropractor, they feel good for a while, and then it goes right back to the way it was,” he says. “The problem is they’re doing it wrong.”
This is where the “set” part enters the picture.
“Research says the body will want to fall back to its former position within a 24-48 hour period after the adjustment,” Barker explains.
The “set” prevents this from happening.
After the adjustment, during the set, patients again use a traction unit, inserting specific body weights for them. They stand on a vibrating platform called a Vibe Plate. This system retrains all the muscles and ligaments to reset in the proper position.
“The Vibe Plates retrain all the muscles and ligaments to reset in the proper position,” says Barker.
Each patient goes leaves with a spinal home care kit.
“You have to be a participant in treatment,” he explains.
Like Koch, Cristofano says Barker’s philosophy and treatment methods are an answer to prayers. Over the years, she’s not only endured tremendous pain, but has had “way too many” cortisone shots, had nerves taken out of her feet, and surgery on one arm – all to relieve the relentless pain.
“I’ve had horrific headaches for probably 40 years and been on numerous medications, including one particular drug that made me stupid for the last eight years,” she says. “I knew in my core that all my ailments were related somehow, but all the doctors told me they weren’t and they often looked at me like I was crazy. Even my chiropractors over the years didn’t put it all together.”
It is, she says, so simple.
“Dr. Chris gets it and was able to treat my problems at the root – my cervical and spinal column that innervates my entire body,” she explains. “I turned 50 in March. At that time, I was literally just waiting to die. Here I am seven months later, so grateful to God to be alive again.”
An Ode to the Freedom Jar
Barker not only offers chiropractic treatment, but he provides opportunities for patients to learn how to live healthier by making lifestyle changes.
At New City Chiropractic, patients are encouraged to educate themselves about all subjects relating to good health. Barker offers free health-related workshops in his office, posts informative podcasts and videos on his website, and stocks informative books and nutrition supplements for sale.
A list of his workshops and programs is on his website, NewCityChiro.com. Folks can sign up to Shop with the Doc and meet Barker at a local grocery store to learn the best foods to buy, what to avoid and how to feed a family healthy foods on a budget.
In a nod to family dinnertime he enjoyed as a kid, every month 10-15 people are invited to join Barker and his staff for a community dinner. The evening includes a short message of health, dinner, and an opportunity to ask health-related questions. The sign-up form is on the website.
Perched in a prominent spot in the office is a giant jar filled with discarded bottles of medications from patients who no longer need them – a visual reminder of the benefits of Barker’s programs and a healthy lifestyle. A close inspection finds everything from pain killers and anti-depressants to cholesterol-lowering drugs and blood pressure pills. There are pills to treat arthritis, allergies, sinus issues, and migraines.
When it is filled to the top, it’s emptied and ready to serve as an inspiration to others.
At the end of her intensive treatment, Cristofano emptied several bottles into the jar and made another major lifestyle decision – she moved from California to Florida to work for Barker as an assistant at New Life Chiropractic.
“During my Intensive Treatment time, I would be in traction lying on one of their innovative machines and all these, I think, great ideas kept popping into my head. I was bursting with ideas and excitement just thinking of all the ways that Dr. Chris could reach, help, heal and bring life to more people,” she says.
She discovered that Barker was already working on a number of those ideas.
“I knew he was a man of great vision, a man who truly loves and cares about people, a man of great integrity that was that going to change the world – one person at a time, bringing life and hope to them,” she says. “With all of my being, I felt compelled to help him do that.”
Cristofano says New Life Chiropractic offers encouragement and hope to others who believe they’ve tried everything and failed.
“They need to know that there is a better way. Other doctors may tell you that you have to live with the pain, that you have to take their drugs – which oftentimes only make you sicker – that surgery is your only option, or that there is simply nothing you can do to relieve your situation,” she says. “I have been there, done that and it simply isn’t true.”
Barker is dedicated to spreading the news about the benefits of his treatments as well as health improvements gained by various lifestyle changes.
While insurance companies and Medicare typically cover few, if any, of the costs of receiving chiropractic treatments, Barker has a plan designed to make it affordable for most people.
“Do Medicare and insurance companies really care about the patients?” he asks, a doubtful look on his face. “Usually they will pay for a fraction of it. For the rest, I have a program that not only works for you but with you. This works with all insurances, so whether you have Medicare or other insurance, we can help you.”
As the Freedom jar fills with pill bottles, a notebook filled with pages of testimonials grows as well. They cite freedom from high blood pressure and cholesterol, headaches and sinus infections, obesity, hormone imbalance, depression, back and neck pain, digestive issues, and an assortment of other now vanished maladies. Patients from all over Polk County drive to south Lakeland to seek treatment from Barker.
With this growing demand and a desire to help as many people as possible achieve good health, Barker trains other doctors to use his equipment and techniques, and assists them in opening their own offices.
He trains other chiropractors like Dr. Axe, who is starting a practice in the St. Petersburg, and helps them open offices in other areas. He plans to have offices in several Polk County cities. His desire is to help as many people reach and maintain good health.
As his website states, “His passion is people and seeing them reach their God given potential.”
Barker smiles while explaining the reasoning behind promoting healthy habits.
“We wouldn’t take care of ourselves to look good or feel good. It’s so you can hang out with your kids at the park, to do the things you love to do and what God called you to do,” he says. “It’s hard to be a blessing from a hospital bed.”