There are still a handful who would say that there is no such thing as bones going out of place. With the CBCT, you can clearly see the misaligned components in three-dimensional aspects. Dr. Jake Hollowell uses this revolutionary imagining for his analyses as well as applying the philosophies of Blair Upper Cervical. Dr. Hollowell shares his journey of being a chiropractor stemming from his love for sports. He is now based in Brazil using the CBCT to visualize misalignments in the upper cervical spine and get more people to live better lives.
Dr. Jake Hollowell is a Blair Upper Cervical chiropractor that practices out of Brazil. Dr. Jake has taken his chiropractic talents all over the world, opening up Upper Cervical offices in Italy and Brazil. He has also come up with a three-dimensional upper cervical analysis through Cone Beam CAT scans that has enabled us to visualize misalignments in the upper cervical spine more clearly and get more people well. Please welcome, Dr. Jake Hollowell.
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Revolutionary Imaging with Dr. Jake Hollowell
Dr. Jake, where are you from originally?
I’m originally from Oakland, California.
What were you into growing up? I know you said you liked to surf.
Surf and football. That’s how I got introduced to chiropractic. Our trainer was a chiropractor. He practiced traditional full-spine chiropractic. That’s what got me interested in chiropractic. I then made the leap to go to chiropractic college.
Did you know about Upper Cervical Chiropractic before you went to college?
No. When I went to I went to Life West, which now has a much bigger Upper Cervical following, at the time I remember people talking about it and I thought, “What exactly are they doing? Are they adjusting the atlas so hard that it ricochet all the rest of the bones in place?” I had no real idea of how an atlas correction would do anything but maybe move the atlas around a little bit.
What happened then? How did you get into it?
In my first quarter, it wasn’t as popular, and then it started becoming more popular. We had the NUCCA Elective. We had the HIO Toggle Elective. One day I had a diversified full-spine adjuster adjust my atlas and it made a big difference. It was one of those powerful adjustments. At that point, I had a light bulb go off in my head, but he couldn’t reproduce that adjustment. I went under care with a knee-chest chiropractor at first and I did about five or six months of care. I wasn’t too impressed with it. There’s nothing wrong with the technique, he just couldn’t change the indicators. He and I saw that he wasn’t satisfied with the results. I had a car accident and I went to a NUCCA chiropractor and I did four months of care there and it was the same thing. It’s the three bears paradox where one was maybe a little bit too much force for me and maybe the other one was a little bit too little force with the result. It didn’t change it very well, so I gave up. I said, “I will quit school. I like it but it’s not giving me a result.” When I graduated to chiropractic full-spine, only I quickly became depressed and I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted to see that the chiropractic philosophy explained. While I was in school, I did an internship with Dr. Forest, a Blair chiropractor. I don’t know why, but I thought Blair was weird. At that time, it was like the Blair Witch. I was like, “We’re practicing chiropractic and that’s a weird name and some weird stuff.” He was famous in the area. He put me on his email list. One day I was depressed, I wasn’t making much money as those spine chiropractor, and I wasn’t happy with the results and income.
What was the most frustrating thing that you saw with the full spine that you weren’t happy with?
The people always feel good right away. I don’t always feel right away and it didn’t last very long. We would take X-rays before and after. The other chiropractor who was working has even been practicing for over ten years and I took his X-rays too as I was the younger doc in the clinic. I had to do all the grunt work and I didn’t see any changes at all at the X-rays either. That was the same thing. You got all these big huge plans for people. I didn’t see the results that I thought that I would see based on the philosophy of chiropractic.
I was at that point where I wanted to quit chiropractic. I was depressed and I had received an email because Dr. Forest knows when something fails. I said, “Let me give Blair a chance.” I give it a chance. It wasn’t like I went to one adjustment. I did several months of care with each one. I said, “I’m going to give it one more chance.” I went to Dr. Forest, he X-rayed me, he adjusted me, and it turned on that same light bulb. Quickly, my neck curve changed, my whole demeanor changed. I was a very introverted person, I was very timid, I didn’t want to talk to people, and right away I changed. I started talking to people. It changed not only the way I felt, but the whole way my brain was functioning. I thought, “This is cool.” I got excited and I said, “I need to learn this Blair Technique.” At the time, Dr. Forest was not accepting anyone to work with him, but he was accepting a secretary or a chiropractic assistant. I said, “I will be your chiropractic assistant.” He looked at me funny and says, “You’re a chiropractor, and you’re going to work as a receptionist?” I said, “You’re the best, so I’ll do whatever I can to learn from you.” I worked out on the receptions for about six months.
Being a receptionist is hard. Eventually, he let me work in his office as a chiropractor after about four or five months as a receptionist. I worked with him for about two years, studying and him checking everything that I did to make sure I was doing it correctly, learning the technique correctly, and managing the patients correctly. After that, I got an offer from Dr. Drew. Dr. Drew contacted Dr. Forest and said, “We’re looking for upper cervical chiropractors for Italy to work in some clinics and help with some research.” I said, “That’s me. I want to travel. I want to see the world.” Without thinking, I jumped in. I said it, not thinking there was no chiropractic there to check my spine. Once I got there carrying all my luggage, I was subluxated and there was no one to check me, so I didn’t think that part through, but it was awesome opportunity. In Italy, I was introduced to my wife, which is why I’m in Brazil now. I was also introduced to CBCT imaging, which has become a passion and which is what I now teach a lot of courses on how to use upper cervical analysis with CBCT.
It’s definitely revolutionized everything that we do in a great way. How did you get introduced to it? Was it like you were around a dentist office and they were using it and you’re like, “This could be useful for upper cervical,” or with somebody already saying, “This can be used for upper cervical, we needed an analysis.” How did that work out?
There was a doctor, Dr. Campbell, in California who works with Dr. Forest and teaches at Life West Chiropractic College the Blair Technique. Dr. Campbell had played around with a supine CT machine. I’d known that it was possible, but the big downfall was that it was supine and it was not a weight-bearing image like we like to take or we need to take for upper cervical analysis. When I was in Italy, I worked in the hospital imaging center. At that time, I would have to put on a white coat and go and help the radiological tech to take the imaging because he couldn’t take the Blair images by himself. I would have to go down and help him with the positioning.
Was that where the chiropractic clinic was in the hospital over there?
It’s like a side imaging center that the hospital use as auxiliary imaging center, which had a better MRI, better X-ray. They have X-ray in the hospital for emergencies, but then they would send people out for more advanced imaging studies to this. It was like a doctor building, imaging center place. Every country has things set up a little bit differently.
How’s the overall chiropractic culture over in Italy? Do people see chiropractors regularly? Is it growing?
It’s growing. It’s not as common as the United States. I was in Sicily, so it was not very common. There were maybe three or four chiropractors that practiced in the whole island of Sicily. Where I was, I was the first chiropractor ever to practice in that particular city, so it was all new. They were excited about it and we grew quick. In upper cervical, when you get results, people will come.
Did you have to take a board exam in Italian over there? How does it work to get certified in other countries for chiropractic?
It depends on the country. Some countries will require that you take their board exam, like in the United States, if you are licensed or you graduated from another college. Australia as well. In Italy, you have to translate your diploma and send all your transcripts. They review them and then they allow you to practice. In reality at that time, a chiropractic was not regulated. To become a member of the Italian Association of Chiropractors, they require that you translate the diploma and send your transcripts for you to get this authorization to practice in the country.
How was your Italian over there? Was it good?
It took about a year for me to communicate. I speak other languages. I took a few classes of Spanish in California to know the basics, but that part of my brain wasn’t very well developed. I talk to a lot of patients. I did what I could. I had a translator at the beginning. By the end, I spoke fluently. Now that I speak Portuguese, I have forgotten how to speak Italian. I can still understand it but I can’t speak it as well as I was there.
You’re in the hospital wing at the hospital in Italy and they have a CBCT unit?
They did. I was taking X-ray and it was very time consuming. I had to put on the white coat and I had to help the tech. At one point, the owner was like, “Jake, I’m going to buy this new machine. It’s called a Dental CT. Based on what I see you’re trying to do with X-ray, this is going to be perfect.” I took a look and I was like, “You’re right, this is perfect. It’s exactly what all the upper cervical chiropractors are trying to do with their X-ray where they’re trying to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the anatomy to determine how the vertebra has misaligned.” I started looking at it and I must say at the beginning, I didn’t have anybody to help me, so I do trial and error and figured out how to do the analysis. I had a lot of people who were interested in it and so I began to teach courses. That’s how I got into it.
Was there already a program that you could use to help you with the analysis or did you have to start from scratch?
Workstation had a program there. It was a very expensive program and it was cool. Like anything, it takes awhile to get the hang of it, but once you get the hang of it, you can do any of the upper cervical analysis.
That’s interesting now that we have the 3D imaging. I graduated a year ago and I remember I had an argument with one of the teachers. Not an argument, but she’s like, “Bones don’t go out of place. There is no such thing as a bone out of place.” This proves everything that BJ and Dr. Blair were talking about many years ago, does it not?
You can clearly see the misalignment component. As we know from our analysis and our philosophy, you don’t see a subluxation on an image, but you can see the misalignment. For those unfortunate chiropractors that are in denial and say that there is no way a bone misaligns, with the CBCT, you can clearly see the misalignment of the back, some occiput as well as the lower cervical misalignments.
You started getting the hang of the CBCT and then you started implementing it on the patients. Did you know your results were getting good because of the improvement of the imaging?
With X-ray, there are a lot of limiting factors. It’s somewhat of a distorted image. There are jaws, teeth, different bony structures, which can get in the way of your analysis that sometimes you don’t get a clear image. With the CBCT, you always get a clear image so those tricky cases that maybe you don’t get a good listing, or you don’t understand exactly how it’s misaligned. With the CBCT, that improved quite a bit. With Upper Cervical technique, we’ve got a high percentage of results, but with the CBCT we were able to improve that percentage of success.
How long were you in Italy for?
Then you met your wife and then you guys moved down to Brazil?
How was the transition to Brazil?
Brazil is somewhere in between Italy and the United States.
In what way?
In the sense that they’re very into American things, which Italians weren’t but there are certain cultural things that Americans don’t have that the Italians have. I live in the south of Brazil where there was a huge Italian immigration during World War II to the southern portion of Brazil. As far as that, there’s the part where there’s nothing impressive about America. Italy is in the best place in the world, the best food in the world. Everybody else are poor little babies because they can’t eat the Italian foods. They are into their self and into their culture. Maybe there are Italian or German or European roots that they have in the southern part of Brazil where I live. In that respect, it was somewhere in between Italy and the United States.
What’s the chiropractor culture over in Brazil like?
In Brazil, we have two chiropractic universities. People know that chiropractic exists. Whereas in Sicily, no one heard of chiropractic. Only here, a chiropractor is more of a physical therapist than the chiropractor we would have in the United States. It requires communication and explaining exactly how I practice, what I expect to happen. Once I explained it, the practice is quick here.
Are you the only Upper Cervical doctor in Brazil or there are a couple now?
There are two or three in Sao Paulo. Right now, there are about five, six including me and my assistant.
How many people are doing Blair?
Out of the six, five. The other guy does Atlas Orthogonal.
Starting a new practice in your own country and speaking your own language is challenging enough. Was it challenging starting up your own practice from scratch in Brazil?
Did you start from scratch or did you open with somebody?
I opened up a clinic here. I already had experience opening up a clinic in another country. I already knew what not to do and what to do. It went very well and the practice grew. We have to do a lot less marketing that goes on here. It’s all word of mouth and so if you get results with one person, they go tell a whole bunch of people. That was the same thing in Italy. People talk a lot more. People go out, they socialize more, they go out and have coffee and they’ll tell their friends. I had a strategy to meet doctors and other health professionals and explain what I did. When you get a referral from a health professional or doctor, the patient already trusts them and so it’s easier, especially when you’re doing something that’s weird. When I first heard Upper Cervical I thought it was weird. I always try to remember that a lot of the patients coming in are going to think that as well. I try to relate with them and when they say it’s weird I say, “I know it’s weird, but I’ll explain everything. You have to try and we’ll see what happens.”
Can you talk about any amazing cases you’ve seen in your own office?
I’ll start with one of the very first ones and one of the more recent ones. It was my first few months practicing in Dr. Forest’s office. I had two twins come in. They were about five years old. They had a traumatic birth and one of them was born almost all the way deaf. He had a little bit of hearing on one ear and none on the other side. He came in more for wellness. I was taking care of his mom and she remember she saw a healthcare spinal care class and I talked about their traumas during birth. She said, “My birth was very traumatic. I had twins, so I want to bring my kids in.” We checked them, both their atlases are out of place and they were subluxated. We took the X-rays and we adjusted them. On the ride home, the child that was born almost all the way deaf regained his hearing. She called me crying. He was freaking out because he never had heard things so loud and he didn’t know what was going on. That was one of my first wow moments and it was only a few months into practice.
I had a lady that had a really bad lumbar surgery. She had excruciating pain and she wasn’t able to walk. When they put in the screws, they clicked the vertebra farther out of the place in her lumbar spine and it was nasty. I said, “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to help you with what you want. I know I can help your spine and we can help your body function better, but I know you want your leg to regain the function that it had before the surgery, and I don’t know.” She had a bunch of weird anomalies going on in the neck, which further made me think, “What am I getting myself into?” We made the first adjustment and all of the pain went away. I said, “You will come back. You will have some ups and downs but be happy that at least you have a few days right now were all the paint went away and you’re able to walk.” She had a headache her whole life since she was about five years old and she had a horse riding accident and her headache went away. She felt great and they all think that I’m a witch. They’re big into spiritual healing. I said, “No, it’s not spiritual healing, it’s all science.” She was excited about it. I’m excited that she’s doing better.
You teach your own Cone Beam CAT scan seminars to whoever who would like to join. How often do you do that?
We’ll do only one a year now where we’re going to do a webinar. The webinar is good because it allows interaction. People can ask questions. I also realized that nowadays we have limited time, so I’ve created a video tutorial series which I call the Upper Cervical CBCT Manual. It explains all about the technical specifications of the CBCT Machine where we go through a full Blair analysis, a full orthospinology analysis, and a full HIO toggle analysis. It’s open to all the different upper cervical techniques to get an idea because all orthogonal techniques are fairly similar. They have a few nitpicky things that make them different, but they can at least get an idea of how to do analysis with a CBCT and then put it in their little details based on their particular techniques.
How long did it take from the time a new patient comes into your office, sit them in the chair to get scanned, and to do the analysis? X-rays are time consuming as you said. Is it quicker?
The actual scan is only about 30 to 45 seconds, a few minutes to put them in the position, put their information in, and do the scan, so about three to five minutes depending on which machine you have. For me to analyze the image, it takes me between ten and fifteen minutes. As far as the analysis, it still takes a while because you have more information to analyze. The knowledge it makes make it longer to analyze because you’re looking at more information. Patients’ hours are much quicker, so you save that time and then you can do the analysis later on because I don’t adjust the person on the same day. We do the exams, we do the image, I send them outside because I don’t have the machine in my office in Brazil. They take the image, it gets sent to me, and then I analyze it. Then they come back on another day.
I leased a digital machine. I found out about what you were doing afterwards and I was a little disappointed because I’ve seen the pictures and it looks unreal. There is a mobile unit that goes around. How does that work when you have multiple patients scheduled the week on different days? Do you send it all at one place? It’s not a mobile unit?
We have two imaging centers in our city. There’s one in the center of the city and there’s one on the outskirt because I’m in the capital of a southern state called Santa Catalina in Brazil. One is right in the middle of the city and then one on the outskirts of the city. If the patient lives in the center, they go to the one in the center. If they live more close to my clinic, then they go to the other one. Either one doesn’t matter. I do the form, they go there, and the imaging center takes it. For me it’s a little extra time. Once they’re done with the image, they send it directly to me, and within an hour I can analyze it.
They call your office and you say, “You need to contact these people so we can get your imaging done.” That place obviously takes care of the imaging on their schedule.
They come in, I do a consultation, and I explain what I’m going to do. If they want to do the exams, then I take them back, we’ll do the exams, the Tytron and photos of their posture. After that, they come up with my secretary, calls the imaging center, and they go take it right away.
They’re good about getting people in the door. That makes it a lot clearer for me because I’m going to try to start doing that. When’s your next webinar? Did you already have it this year?
We’re going to do one in June or July, but the webinar is going to be only for people that have already taken the webinar. I’m trying to switch all the new people to the video series. This way, they can watch it over and over and then they can take part in the webinar if they have any questions. This way, it saves time for everybody. If you are interested in the video series, you can get it on the Blair Technique website. They have it for sale there. A big portion of money collected from the sale of these videos is going to go back to research. We need to do some research so that we can continue using this imaging and continue advancing the professional chiropractor.
I’m very excited to see what the future holds with this imaging and it’s only going to get better. It’s very fortunate for you to be coming up with it because you’ve revolutionized the way we do things.
We’ve just improved what Dr. Blair and the other upper cervical chiropractors already did, all the legwork. I came in with the lucky imaging, being in the right place at the right time, and trying to help others learn about this imaging because it will help with the results that we all should be getting.
What are your favorite things about Brazil
People are relaxed. I live on an island, so there’s surfing. I like to surf. There is good weather. There’s an energy here that soothes me. There are a lot of problems as well like you’ll find in any place you go, and you have to weigh the good things and the bad. For me, I feel comfortable here. I feel a sense of ease and I get along well with the culture here. That is the big thing.
What’s your website? Where can people find you, and where’s your practice located?
We’re in Florianopolis in the State of Santa Catalina. My website for the practice is EspecificoQuiropraxia.com. If anybody wants to know more about CBCT imaging or the Blair Techniques, all of that can be found on the new Blair Technique website, including the videos. You can also find me on Facebook. I’m still on Facebook, I haven’t quit even though it was all these new controversies, but it’s an easy way for me to keep track of what’s going on in the United States until something better comes up. You can find me at Jake Hollowell there on Facebook and send me a message if you have any questions.
Thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it. I look forward to that webinar.
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