Save Your Neck

Evidence-based rehab device alleviates pain, restores mobility.

As an engineer, David appreciates the science behind the MCU.

As you near the end of the Time and Navigation exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, you can see a personal tracking device that has helped save the lives of countless first responders around the world.

Similar in size and shape to an old flip phone, the device was designed by a team of engineers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. That team included David Cyganski, who says the device was borne entirely out of tragedy.

“In December 1999, an old cold-storage building in Worcester caught fire,” David explains. “When the firefighters learned that some homeless people had been using the building and might still be in there, they began a search to try to rescue them.

“But once they got inside, the firefighters became disoriented and lost. A second rescue team went looking for the first, then a third team later went in to find the other. But the same thing happened to all of them, and all six of those firefighters died.

“It was because of that tragedy that my colleagues and I turned all our efforts toward developing this Precision Personnel Location system that can track first responders in places where there’s no GPS. It’s probably the thing in my career that I’m most proud of.”

That’s saying something. After all, as a professor and later the dean of electronic and computer engineering at WPI, David, 66, spent the bulk of his career working on a variety of projects, including many for the defense industry.

After he retired in 2018, David and his wife moved to Florida, in part to avoid the cold Northeast winters that were at the root of a mishap that caused him a great deal of pain over the years.

“This happened in 2015,” David says of the accident. “It was winter and a team of recruiters from SpaceX were visiting the campus. I was taking them on a tour of the campus, and as I was walking up a small flight of stairs I slipped on the ice.

“My foot went right out from under me, and as I started to fall backward down the stairway, I grabbed a railing to keep from falling. But I yanked so hard on that railing that I damaged nerves and muscles from my fingers all the way into my spine.”

The damage was so great that David lost most of the feeling and control of the last three fingers of his right hand for three months. He also spent the better part of a year fighting a daily battle with agonizing neck and pain. Then one day last spring, he suddenly noticed he could no longer turn his head all the way to the left without pain.

“If I turned my head to the left at all, the whole right side of my neck would hurt,” he describes. “And we’re not talking about a little ache here. It was very painful. As you might expect, it began to interfere with a lot of areas of my life.

“If I was driving and needed to look to my left, I couldn’t look far enough to the left to see behind me. It also made it hard to sleep at night because the pain would sometimes wake me up, especially if my head turned to the left.

“It even interfered with me doing normal things around the house. You don’t realize how much you turn your head just doing normal household upkeep until it hurts to turn your head. So it made that kind of thing much worse and very painful.”

When the pain became unbearable, David visited his personal physician, who recommended a physical therapist. When physical therapy failed to adequately alleviate the pain, David asked his doctor for another recommendation.

“This time, she said there was a specific group that she wanted me to see because they’ve had success with patients with similar pain that no one else has,” David remembers. “That’s how I ended up at Active Health Center.”

David Cyganski:

Nonsurgical Device

During his first visit to Active Health Center, David was examined by Colin O. Behrue, DC. Suspecting the neck pain was a lingering effect of the damage suffered in the fall years earlier, Dr. Behrue asked to see the MRI of David’s neck taken at the time of the injury.

Upon examining that MRI, Dr. Behrue found that lingering damage to several cervical vertebrae and the atrophy of David’s neck muscles were the primary causes of the neck pain and lack of mobility.

“After David was first injured in that fall, his doctors were really just trying to piece him back together,” Dr. Behrue says. “So he more or less went from being in an emergency situation to one in which the doctors were trying to get him stabilized.

“He then went through physical therapy, but a lot of the problems never really got fixed. Then, as the years went by, his body compensated, some of his neck muscles atrophied and degeneration occurred. He also developed bone spurs and the discs wore down. When that happens, you lose range of motion, and if your body doesn’t get full range of motion, it degenerates even more in that area because it doesn’t have to do that function anymore.

“That’s why he was in so much pain and couldn’t move his neck.”

To correct the problem, Dr. Behrue suggested treatment on a nonsurgical device that is exclusive to Active Health Center in South Florida. That device is called the Multi-Cervical Unit, or MCU, which isolates and strengthens muscles around the neck.

An instrument in what doctors refer to as evidence-based medicine, the MCU records 16 ranges of muscle movement for strength to determine the areas of the neck where there are weaknesses, imbalances or a loss in range of motion.

“As I went through the MCU treatments, I could turn my head more and more with less pain.” – David

Once that data is revealed, a program is designed that allows the MCU to correct those problems. It is considered the most effective, efficient system for assessment and rehabilitation of the neck.

Studies show that following MCU therapy, patient pain levels decreased 66 percent while strength levels increased more than 70 percent, with more than 90 percent of patients making a full recovery, according to Active Health Center.

An MCU session lasts 20 to 30 minutes, with patients going through three sessions a week for nine weeks. During that period, patients are retested at least three times to determine the effectiveness of the treatments.

“We retest the patient every nine visits and compare the results of those tests with the results we received from our original examination,” Dr. Behrue states. “That shows us how well the patient is progressing. Based on those findings, we make clinical changes that help the patient continue to improve and build strength.”

Impressive Concept

When David first visited Active Health Center in early March, data from the MCU showed he had minimal strength in the muscles of his neck. To alleviate his pain and increase mobility, he needed to rebuild the functional foundation of his neck, Dr. Behrue told him.

David accepted the challenge and committed to a full regimen of treatment on the MCU. By early May, the MCU showed that the strength of David’s neck muscles exceeded the maximum in the normal range. Not surprisingly, his pain disappeared as well.

“As I went through the MCU treatments, I could turn my head more and more with less pain,” David reveals. “At the same time, I also had some standard chiropractic adjustments done, and now I can turn my head as much to the left as I can to the right without pain.

“I am incredibly happy with the results, and I have to say that I was really impressed by the whole concept of the MCU. As an engineer, I have a special appreciation for the fact that it offers real evidence-based information.

“There were no myths and no hocus-pocus involved in it in any way. Everything they did was based on their findings on the MCU, and so I highly recommend
Dr. Behrue and Active Health Center. They did wonders for me.”

Running a marathon is such a grueling athletic challenge that for many runners, the primary objective is simply to finish the race. Even after running eight marathons, that is still Maddie Jeffrey’s primary objective.

Maddie Jeffrey

“Oh, we don’t ask that,” Maddie says with a chuckle when asked for her best time in a marathon. “I finished. That’s saying a lot right there.”

If Maddie can finish the next two marathons on her schedule she will have achieved an even more impressive objective. After all, her plan is to run two marathons – the Marine Corps Marathon and New York City Marathon – a week apart in fall 2022.

With plans to also run an Ironman triathlon that will test her cycling and swimming skills as well as her running ability, it should come as no surprise that Maddie calls herself “a glutton for punishment.” So far, she hasn’t punished herself too greatly.

“I’ve never really had any injuries, and I think part of that is because I’ve always been of the mindset that taking care of your body is a regular part of training,” she says. “I’ve always been very conscious of that.”

Maddie regularly gets standard chiropractic adjustments on her body. A little more than a year ago, she began visiting Active Health Center for those adjustments. Soon after, she learned she was suffering from thoracic outlet syndrome.

A disorder that affects the area between the collarbone and first rib, thoracic outlet syndrome can be caused by trauma, repetitive injuries or anatomical defects. It usually causes pain, numbness, weakness or coldness in the shoulders, neck and arms.

Maddie had been experiencing those symptoms for some time, mostly while sleeping at night, but also when running. Just a few miles into her runs, her right arm would suddenly “fall asleep” on her and disrupt her pace and rhythm.

“It was totally worth it because I gained a great deal of relief from those sessions.” – Maddie

“It sounds very minor, but it’s a big deal,” Maddie says. “When we started doing the tests, I would hold my arm out and raise it, and you could just see the blood draining from my hand because the blood supply was somehow being cut off.”

Exceptional Results

Active Health Center executive director and owner Marc A. Weinberg, DC, who has served on the board of directors of the American Thoracic Outlet Syndrome Association and contributed to a textbook on its treatment, discovered the disorder in Maddie.

Thanks to the MCU, Maddie is back on the run.

In addition to recommending a series of mobility exercises she could do at home, Dr. Weinberg suggested Maddie do a few sessions on the MCU. She wound up doing a full regimen of MCU sessions (three a week for nine weeks). The results were exceptional.

“It was totally worth it because I gained a great deal of relief from those sessions,” Maddie enthuses. “My arm doesn’t go numb in the night when I’m sleeping or when I’m running anymore, so the MCU really helped me. And who knew?”

Maddie says she feels fortunate that Dr. Weinberg realized there was “something else going on with me” and suggested the neck training.

“I played softball competitively as a kid and then switched to running, but you never think, Well, let’s do some neck workouts to make sure we’re all good there,” she observes.

“You look after everything else, but you never really think about your neck. That’s how it was with me. After I started running, I was always visiting a chiropractor to get my hips and ankles adjusted for running, but it turns out you have to look after your entire body. Thanks to Dr. Weinberg, I’m doing that now.

“I want to add that I’m really impressed with everybody at Active Health Center. I’ve never been to a doctor who has a nicer staff. I know this sounds cheesy, but they’re all such good people. They treat you like you’re their best friend, and I recommend them to anybody. They’re all just great.”

© FHCN article by Roy Cummings. Photos by Jordan Pysz. mkb
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    • Active Health Center

      If you have aches and pains from a motor vehicle accident, an old injury or a slip and fall, or are just feeling pain from the trials of daily life, Dr. Marc Weinberg and Dr. Colin Behrue at Active Health Center at Weinberg Chiro... Read More

    • Marc A. Weinberg, DC

      Marc A. Weinberg, DC, completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Florida and went on to graduate cum laude from Life Chiropractic College in Marietta, GA. He is approved by the National University of Health Sciences to perfor... Read More

    • Colin O. Behrue, DC

      Colin O. Behrue, DC, completed his undergraduate studies in molecular/microbiology at the University of Central Florida and went on to receive his Doctorate of Chiropractic, cum laude, from Palmer Chiropractic College Florida in Port Orange. He... Read More

    • Adam Holleman, DPT

      Adam Holleman, DPT, earned his undergraduate degree in exercise science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, VA. He received his doctorate in physical therapy from Winston-Salem State University. He performed research in biomechan... Read More

    • Sandy McLean, DC

      Sandy McLean, DC, earned her Bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Northwestern Health and Sciences University in 1998 and earned her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from the same school. She opened her first practice in Marquette, Michig... Read More

    • Karla A. Thiele, DC

      Karla A. Thiele, DC, earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in health and exercise physiology with a minor in wellness education from Ursinus College in Collegeville, Pennsylvania and her Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine from Keiser University in... Read More