By Noah Alatza
Overcoming life’s obstacles has been the mindset of Fishers chiropractor Todd McDougle since he began working his way through college in the late 1980s.
Originally, McDougle planned to be a police officer, but his career path changed when the unimaginable happened.
In 1988, tragedy struck while McDougle was working as a supervisor at a foundry in northern Indiana. While sweeping the floor with a broom at the end of the day, the broom got caught in a sand reclaimer, which pulled his arm inside the machine for eight minutes while other workers searched frantically for a shut-off valve.
“Doctors told me that they were not prepared to save the arm,” he said.
McDougle persuaded his doctors not to amputate by moving his thumb slightly. Doctors were so encouraged by his progress that they opted for reconstructive surgery, using his back muscles to restore function to his arm and hand.
Before the incident, McDougle weighed 225 pounds. After six months in and out of hospitals, he was down to 165 pounds. Despite his injury, McDougle was determined to rehabilitate himself, returning to the gym just days after leaving the hospital.
“I couldn’t stand to look at myself, so I would go to the gym and train at the local (YMCA), and I hurt my lower back,” McDougle said. “I got this, got that, but nothing was working, and I still couldn’t walk. I knew I was most likely not going back to law enforcement. It wasn’t looking right. I had an interest in rehab in high school and worked through a vocational program internship in physical therapy.”
McDougle said a friend urged him to visit a chiropractor, but he was reluctant at first.
But the chiropractor helped McDougle so much he decided to pursue a career in chiropractic care and sports medicine, so he enrolled in Palmer’s College of Chiropractic at the Davenport, Iowa campus.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree, he completed 48 credit hours in one semester and made the dean’s list.
McDougle began working with the International World’s Strongest Man competitors in the late 1990s. He also was the supervising chiropractor for the World Strong Man games this year.
He developed his own dynamic chiropractic adjustment technique to help athletes meet and exceed their performance goals.
His technique, “The McDougle Method,” helps athletes adjust and improve their performance at his clinic, Indiana Chiropractic & Wellness, Inc,. in Fishers. Some of his patients travel long distances, with a few coming from Australia and Europe for treatment.
McDougle copyrighted his method after extensive research on the topic. The 1910 Hoffman’s reflex, often referred to as the “H-reflex,” is a performed test using an electric stimulator and typically takes much longer.
“I developed a short, high-velocity burst that bypasses Hoffman’s reflex,” McDougle said. “We see an increase in about 20 percent off the table in muscle strength, and the athlete can go into a competition without delay.”
McDougle said he developed the method after treating a wide array of patients and focusing on their specific needs.
McDougle’s arm is not 100 percent healed, but he said he never notices it. Doctors told him functionally is approximately 50 percent.
McDougle is teaching the method now and has been educating the community for the past two years. He is a guest lecturer at the International Chiropractors Association of Indiana and at the Council on Fitness and Sports Health at the Arnold Symposium in Columbus, Ohio.
McDougle said he wants people to know that, at the end of the day, they can rise above disabilities and excel.
“Now what we’re doing is so unique, and that would never have happened if I went ahead and was put on disability,” he said.
Chiropractor Todd McDougle’s notable patients include the world’s greatest dumbbell presser and former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus strongman, Dimitar Savatinov.
Savatinov said the primary difference between McDougle and other chiropractors is simply how he works.
“He knows what he is doing, that’s for sure,” Savatinov siad. “With his technique after the adjustment, I feel like I’m walking straight.”
Savatinov said McDougle often comes to his competitions to help with adjustments as needed.
“I feel ready and I can sleep better,” he said. “Everything is in place, and when I wake up the next day, I’m ready to compete.”