Vol. LXII, No. 1
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
(Photo by Linda Arntzenius)
Clients of Ari Cohn’s Princeton Chiropractic Wellness Center, Suite B, 33 State Road, have come to expect an attitude adjustment along with a hands-on chiropractic adjustment of their spine. Since graduating cum laude from the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic in 2000, Mr. Cohn has been practicing his artful science as well as spreading the word about the value of preventive chiropractic care to an increasing number of clients in Princeton. Mike Finkelstein, a member of the Department of Exercise Science and Sport Studies at Rutgers, has been visiting Mr. Cohn once a week for the last five-and-a-half years and appreciates the proactive approach. “I’m an active person and Ari’s philosophy is in harmony with my own goal of maintaining health,” commented Mr. Finkelstein who was receiving his weekly adjustment just before this interview. Here, in his own words, Mr. Cohn expounds his mission.
I was a criminal justice major at what is now The College of New Jersey planning to go into the state police and then into the F.B.I., when the parents of a girlfriend introduced me to chiropractic care. They were very enthusiastic about it. When I discovered that two of my college friends were going to chiropractic school, I was intrigued. I’ve always believed that if you have aches and pains, or a fever, your body is trying to tell you something, so the chiropractic philosophy made sense to me. Chiropractic allows people to become aware of what their bodies are doing. Chiropractic adjustments clear disturbances in the nervous system, allowing the body to better perceive what is going on and, as a result, to respond better. For example, if your body is being attacked by a virus and you get adjusted, your body will fight the virus harder. You may feel worse in the short term but the adjustment will help the body deal with the virus more quickly and efficiently, so the recovery time should be reduced. That’s the philosophy that made sense to me when I was in college. My major had 32 elective credits, so while everyone else was taking outdoor recreation, pottery, archery, I filled my time with chemistry I and II, physics I and II, and organic chemistry I and II.
As a kid, I didn’t do a lot of sports, but I was athletic. My ideas for the future ranged from driving a fire truck to being a paleontologist. I grew up in North Jersey, in Parsippany. I’ve been married for two years and Mandy, a special education teacher in Lawrenceville, and I live in Hamilton. I go to Greg Orlando in Ewing every week to get adjusted myself. It’s a very quick procedure, taking only a few minutes. Even when I adjust my wife, I spend between three and five minutes. I’m keen on martial arts and have been going to the Princeton Academy of Martial Arts for five years. They offer a lot of different styles there and recently I’ve been doing Jeet Kune Do. Here’s an analogy from my martial arts teacher that I think is very useful. Think of your health as a bank account. Every time you do something good for your body, your account goes up. Every time you do something bad, your account goes down. the goal is to always have a positive balance.
After chiropractic school, I went to England, where I worked as a chiropractor promoting wellness rather than simply responding to symptoms. I gained a lot of experience in the year I was there and when I came back to the states, although I was offered a couple of jobs working with other chiropractors, I decided to set up my own practice. I’ve been here for six years.
Most chiropractors treat back pain or respond to specific symptoms. I prefer to focus on helping people become as healthy as they can be. My mission statement is posted on the office wall.Its message is simple: To open people’s eyes to how their bodies work; help them achieve their highest possible level of health and to understand that it is better to grow healthy children than to repair damaged adults. I really do want to open peoples’ eyes, not to simply do what I tell them, but to understand why their body is doing what it’s doing so that they can make informed decisions.
I’ve published several papers and I often write up short papers that I leave around the office on subjects that I think people will be interested in, from vaccinations to flu shots. A power point presentation that I update every couple of months runs in the office monitor. I subscribe to a monthly review of the health literature and believe in sharing that with my clients. I post a question of the week to provoke people to think and to smile, such as: the less you move, the more you tell your body to shrink and die; the more you move, the more you tell your body to grow and live. Sometimes it’s a little bit silly: if you brush your teeth really well tonight, will you never have to brush them again?
Most of my clients are in the mid-thirty-to-fifty age range. I have one or two elderly clients and quite a few children. The youngest person I ever adjusted was just three days old. I’d like to see more children. To me, it’s more important to adjust kids than adults. With adults adjustment leads the body to function properly. With children it leads the body not only to function properly but also to develop properly, which has lifelong health benefits. It’s also rewarding to see the benefits of chiropractic on kids, from improved behavior to better grades in school.
When a new client comes in, the first thing I do is to record their health history and discuss their goals and perform a series of neurological tests on the computer that show how the nervous system is controlling the body. I look at skin temperature differentials across the spine to determine whether there are areas where the nerves are not functioning properly. Surface electromiography reveals how the muscles are working. Both tests are non-invasive, use no needles and no radiation.
Every chiropractor adjusts differently. There’s an art to it. At the second visit, I go over the test results and suggest a plan of treatment, usually a 12-visit series (the frequency depends upon the patient’s condition) to be followed by the same testing for comparison purposes. Twelve visits is usually enough to see some improvement, and the package allows me to offer a 10 percent discount plan.
My rates, which are comparable to the co-pay for a doctor visit, are very affordable because I do no billing here and so don’t need to have a large office staff. For those who are able to get reimbursed by their insurance company, I give receipts. For people who don’t have insurance, I provide affordable preventive care. That’s a part of my mission. I believe that the health care system nowadays is in shambles. I don’t want to be a part of that.
In a typical day, I come in around 10:30 a.m. and work until around 7:30 p.m. I’ve never been a morning person, so those hours suit me. I cater to those who want to visit during their lunch hour and after work. My office is run as an open, family style environment. The door is open and patients get to know one another. I deliberately set it up that way after going on a few mission trips to Panama and Peru when I was a student. In one week, I must have adjusted about 3,000 people. Everyone was so receptive. There were crowds waiting for myself and three other chiropractors in a baseball stadium. The energy was amazing. I visited a few other practices when I was in school and knew that I wanted to create a happy environment as opposed to a typical medical practice where everyone is sitting in the waiting room looking at their watches. After all, this is where I spend my time. People walk in and out. It’s informal.
I’d definitely like the practice to grow. And there’s room for it. Currently I work about 25 hours a week. So, it’s about half of what I would like. I have around 670 patients on my roster and treat around 100 on a regular basis. I’d like to see more children.
One thing I appreciate about my practice is that I can be me. I don’t pretend to be somebody else at work by adopting a professional persona. I’m me. People appreciate that, it’s an authentic way to be. One of my friends remarked on how cool it was to see that I’ve created a little “sanctum of health” here. I like that description.
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