With almost 30 years of experience in practice, Dr. Harold McCoy has established quite a track record in incorporating chiropractic to achieve optimal sports performance in world-class athletes. It all started in the 80’s, when Dr. McCoy treated Olympic athletes like Evander Holyfield and served seven years at the University of Washington as part of the Multidisciplinary Sports Medicine Staff, where his job was to provide protocols on how to improve athletic performance using chiropractic treatment. Today, Dr. McCoy’s tireless efforts to help change the chiropractic industry perceptions, practices, and standards have taken a different tenor. To that end, over the last ten years, he has developed two companies, Myo-Logic and Spinal-Logic Diagnostics, Inc., based upon his Sports Medicine and clinical experience. Both companies directly sponsor or co-sponsor over 100 seminars and symposiums per year, such as the Bulletproof Seminars with Dr. Gregg Friedman, focusing on evidence-based documentation.
Further, during the past year, he has been investigating and is in the process of developing international collaborative research projects with major universities in the United States, and the world’s largest pain research center, located in Europe.
A 1975 graduate of Palmer Chiropractic College, Dr. McCoy is a member of the International Chiropractic Association (ICA), was elected a Fellow this year, and is still in practice fulltime in Kirkland, WA.
In an interview with The American Chiropractor (TAC), Dr. Harold McCoy discusses his distinguished career in chiropractic and his passion for providing evidence-based documentation on the efficacy of chiropractic care.
TAC: What influenced you to become a chiropractor?
McCoy: While in the military, my neck was injured and I suffered with severe daily neck pain. I was prescribed physical therapy and drugs for 4 years and it didn’t help. Out of desperation, I went to a chiropractor and, after one week of cervical spine adjustments, I was pain free. This inspired me to become a chiropractor.
That’s still the best part of my job…helping other people who are in pain and ill health like I was. I have a full time practice in Kirkland, Washington, and retirement is out of the question. I have a love and passion for what I do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
TAC: Tell us about your experience helping athletes achieve greater results through chiropractic care.
McCoy: While working 7 years for the University of Washington Intercollegiate Athletic Department as part of the Multidisciplinary Sports Medicine staff, my job was to help develop protocols on how to improve athletic performance without using drugs. In addition to pain management strategies, our treatment protocols (including chiropractic adjustments) were developed to functionally improve flexibility, spinal and extremity joint range of motion, and muscle strength in our athletes.
I have served in over 30 International sporting events. In 1983, I was assigned to the Pan Am Games in Caracas, Venezuela, and, in 1984, I was assigned to the U.S. Olympic Boxing Team in Los Angeles.
Evander Holyfield was on our Olympic boxing team that year. That team won 11 medals in the 12 weight categories—9 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze. Evander and four other young men on the team went on to become professional World Title holders in boxing. I was, and always will be, very proud of our young men. It was an experience I will never forget.
TAC: What have you learned from your experience with athletes that would be useful for chiropractors dealing with their not-so-athletic patients.
McCoy: The examination and treatment protocols I used on athletes were primarily designed to improve athletic performance by using chiropractic care to improve neurological function, range of motion and muscle strength. We focused on an objective evidence-based approach to determine spinal and extremity range of motion limitations and muscle weaknesses and how to improve or correct them, instead of focusing on pain.
As chiropractors, we need to be educating our patients that our job is to improve their neurological and physiological function, health and quality of life. Pain reduction is just a byproduct of what we do for them.
By moving our patients from the pain model to the functional and quality-of-life model of chiropractic care, I have found that they are much more likely to follow through with our active treatment and supportive care recommendations.
We need to have our patients accepting chiropractic care on an objective (“I understand”) system rather than a subjective (“belief”) system.
TAC: Tell us about your involvement in developing an Evidence-based Outcome Assessment System and what this means for chiropractors.
McCoy: Our Myo-Logic Diagnostics company has developed a wireless evidence-based outcome assessment software and hardware system called the MSM-7000. The purpose is to prove medical and chiropractic necessity and demonstrate the need for and the efficacy of our chiropractic care, using HCFA, AMA and ICA Guidelines.
Our wireless system incorporates computerized range of motion, muscle strength, algometry and pressure/pain threshold testing.
This objective data is incorporated with pain-and activities-of-daily-living-questionnaires and automatically downloaded into our software narrative writing capability.
Our sister company, Spinal-Logic Diagnostics, provides a computerized digital biomechanical analysis of our doctors’ X-rays, using the AMA measurement system to determine the exact spinal levels and extent of ligamentous damage to the discs and facet capsules, as the result of trauma.
By giving the Gold Standard of documentation—accepted by all professions measuring functional and structural impairment and the response to care—a numerical value, we can communicate with any professional of any profession in the world. Numbers are an international language.
We can also prove, objectively, the value of the care we provide.
My goal is to introduce more objective evidence-based scientific chiropractic.
TAC: After some 30 years working in and for the chiropractic profession, what motivates you to keep on keeping on?
McCoy: Much of my clinical and sports medicine experience has led me to realize that there are huge gaps in our delivery of service; so, over the years, I pursued my own partnership for chiropractic to work with other health care professionals. We have to help our profession move forward and gain the respect of the research world as we also move toward more scientific evidence-based chiropractic. That’s one reason why I developed Myo-Logic and Spinal-Logic Diagnostics, and why I invest in sponsoring top research and informational seminars and symposiums. My career path has taken me full circle to the realization that my own pain and ill-health experience, and those of millions of others, require that we partner with other professions to really do what’s best for the patient. Doing what’s best for the patient is still what motivates me to keep going in my practice and in my research.
TAC: You have already formed many strong alliances with very important people, both in and out of the profession. Tell us something about these relationships and what they mean to you and the chiropractic profession.
McCoy: I am proud to know and work with doctors (DC’s, MD’s, PhD’s) like Dan Murphy, James Robinson, Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Thomas Graven-Nielsen, Art Croft, Gregg Friedman, Jeff Spencer, Michael Freeman, and Dennis Woggon. These doctors are dedicated visionaries who keep themselves abreast of current research, scientific literature, and methods to help raise the knowledge and standards for all professions. Their work and lectures to other professionals internationally influence the lives and well being of many millions of people worldwide.
I have had the pleasure of traveling with Dr. Dan Murphy, Vice President of ICA, for presentations at symposiums in Lisbon, Portugal; Rome, Italy; and Christchurch, New Zealand. In a recent Internet poll, Dr. Murphy was selected as the Number 1 most respected educator and sought-out chiropractic speaker in the world.
By the way, the ICA is hosting an International symposium in Athens, Greece, November 19-21, 2004. Five of the featured speakers are Dan Murphy, DC, DABCO; James Robinson, MD, PhD, University of Washington Multidisciplinary Pain Center; Lars Arendt-Nielsen, Dr.Sci.Med, PhD; Thomas Graven-Nielsen, PhD, Center for Sensory-Motor Interaction, Aalborg University, Denmark; and Dr. Dennis Woggon, giving a Whiplash & Scoliosis presentation. (Please call ICA at 1-800-423-4690 for details.)
TAC: Do you have any secrets to your success in practice and in life?
McCoy: I would tell other chiropractors to build a passion for what you do in life, while doing it for the right reasons. My belief in chiropractic spurred me on to objectively prove to anyone in any profession that the chiropractic care I was providing was making a difference in my patients’ lives. I also feel that associating with and knowing people of like-minds helps me stay on course. That’s why I respect Dan Murphy. He inspires me and many thousands of other doctors to stay focused on why we became chiropractors.
TAC: Do you have any final words or advice for our readers?
McCoy: There’s a new era dawning in chiropractic. Evidence-based health care is becoming the Gold Standard in all the other professions. In order for things to get better, we need to get better. In order for things to change, we need to change. I challenge every DC out there to go back to the basics and ask yourself if you are ready to truly defend your work and prove to your patients that you make a difference in their health. Now is the time for us all to be accountable. Do whatever it takes to rethink the way you are conducting your practice, so that you can objectively show and prove to your patients, yourself, other health care professionals, and even the insurance establishment, that your work makes your patients healthier and improves the quality of their lives.
And, lastly, never, never, never forget that our mission is to serve and heal.