Dr. Brandon Cohen, one of the doctors at Brady Back Institute, tells us about what it’s like working at the Institute, what the average patient can expect when seeking treatment, and offers his perspective on solving the most difficult back pain problems.
The American Chiropractic Association estimates that up to 80% of the population will experience back pain at some time in their lives. Because of this, back pain is the third most common reason for visits to the doctor’s office. We sit down with one of the doctors at Brady Back Institute treating the back pain epidemic, Dr. Brandon Cohen. For over 13 years, he has been helping people with their pain problems. Specializing in soft tissue/low back and hip, he gives us firsthand knowledge of some of the procedures here at Brady Back Institute. He also offers insight on past cases that stay with him and tells us what he thinks you should know about back pain.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us. Can you start with a little professional background?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: My pleasure. My name is Dr. Brandon Cohen. I graduated from New York Chiropractic College in 2008. I met Dr. Brady at the end of my chiropractic training and started doing Integrative Diagnosis® in 2011. After the first seminar in 2011, I did more and more training with him until 2020, when he invited me to be a part of the Brady Back Institute. At that point, I was running a soft tissue specialist clinic in California, which I had been doing for about 10 years. It was going really well and it was quite successful. I ended up selling that practice to another doctor and moving out here to Danvers, Massachusetts to be part of the Brady Back Institute.
What has it been like working with Dr. Brady as opposed to the previous dynamic when you were learning, or in more of a student role?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: Yeah, it’s interesting. My learning rate is much faster. When I sit with him every day, we can talk about whatever I have questions on, or whatever he’s thinking up, or whatever we’re working on together. So, my progress as a doctor has definitely sped up and increased. The biggest difference is being able to watch him treat patients and see how good he is at that. Also how intentional he is about everything. How each piece of what an office visit is, is built into the whole system to help people get better as quickly and efficiently as they can.
He has this ability to understand and process things way faster than most people. Watching that, improving my ability to do that, and going through all of those steps, has been really important for me as I continue to be the best doctor that I can be. Really, that’s the whole reason that I came out here to Danvers, Massachusetts. The goal is to help as many people as possible. The only way to help as many people as possible is to be as good as I possibly can and, this is the way to do it.
What do you think that you bring to Brady Back Institute?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: The truth is, what matters the most to me is helping people get out of pain, and we have the best answer and the best solution for people who have pain problems. So what I bring is that desire and the ability to not only figure out what is wrong with people, but also understand what their problems are, and the best way to go about fixing those. You know, I have a–talent sounds like the wrong word–but I’m very comfortable with being uncomfortable and learning and growing. To stay in the status quo and not progress is an uncomfortable scary sort of feeling for me. I’d much rather be pushing towards progress. That’s why I’m here, to push towards more and more progress. Because the faster we get progress, the faster everyone gets better, happier, etc.
On an average day, how do you prepare for the patients that you see?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: The process starts with the consult. I read all the information that they give us from their consultation questionnaire. I’ll spend any amount of time depending on the patient and the amount of detail they provide. So I will spend somewhere between five to twenty minutes reviewing that to get an understanding of what problems they have.
After the consult, I’ll spend another 20 minutes, half-hour or so, reviewing with Dr. Brady the information that we find in the consult. At that point, I’ll make an exam specific to that patient. A lot of patients will get a similar type of exam, but there’s always a special thing that we have in there to try to better understand and to get a better diagnosis the first time. Then we’ll do the exam. After the exam, I take all that information again and compare it to the previous information that I got from the consult. Then I match it all together to find an accurate and complete diagnosis.
What happens with most people, is that they either have no diagnosis at all or have an incomplete diagnosis, which is why they only have partial answers or no answers to their problems. So, that’s all the build-up before starting care.
Each time we start with treatment, I have a plan laid out for what we’re going to do. That always changes, depending on how well patients progress, and if they have a setback or, or what have you. In any given case, there’s a significant amount of time that something changes or something comes up that you didn’t necessarily foresee and we have to modify that a little bit.
You said that you matched things up from the previous history, to what you observed in the exam. Is that through F.A.S.T Map? Can you tell us a little more?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: There’s a couple of different software programs that we have, Fast Map is one of them. It helps to understand how much of a patient’s problem is something that we can fix and how much of their problem is needs to be addressed with something other than the type of treatment that we do.
So Fast Map has four different categories: there’s Functional, Structural, Metabolic and the Psychological/Stress component. As we get through the consult we get an understanding of where a patient might lie on those categories. If they have a Fast Map result that’s 100% Functional/Structural, those are the people that always do really great. If we have people who are under a lot of Stress or have other Metabolic issues, they still do well but there are just other things that we have to consider as we move along. Instead of assuming everyone’s going to get better with any kind of treatment, we want to make sure that we get a specialized treatment plan for each patient.
Is that the only matching software that you’re using?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: So we have Fast Map and then we have another diagnostic software that we use. We’ll do that before the exam to make sure that we’re not forgetting any potential diagnoses. One of the things is that there are 157, or more potential diagnoses for the low back and hip, and each patient has about five of those. It’s not the same five all the time it just varies. So we just want to make sure we’re not overlooking anything as we go into the exam to get an accurate and complete diagnosis.
What are some of the frequently asked questions you get from patients, either in the beginning, in the middle of treatment, or at the end?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: People just want to know what we’re doing, and that they’re going to be helped. There’s a variety of different questions. This morning, I had a patient say, “Well, when can I start exercising?” Because she has an issue that stems from her exercise. So people will have questions about how to get back to normal.
People regularly will ask what we’re going to do and ask us to explain what we might do for treatment, whether that’s Sonic Senolytics™ or some of the other manual treatments that we do. Frequently, they will have questions about their family members like, “What about this body region, what about that pain point?” And most of the time what they’re describing we tell them, ‘we fix that too.’
Can you think of any cases that still stand out to you?
Recently we had a guy who came in and had a ton of low back pain going down the leg. One of the tests we do is a toe touch test, right? To do it, you reach down, touch your toes or touch the floor, and you pass the test, full function. He comes in and he’s 18 inches to the floor! So then we begin going through the process with him, the treatment, and the different stages of recovery, etc. Then last week, he touches the ground! That’s a cool thing! To go from not being able to touch the floor, and being that far away, to being able to touch the floor without pain is a big deal. This guy had been to, I can’t remember the number off top of my head, but let’s say nine different doctors, trying to solve this problem. This type of recovery happens in our office everyday.
There are also the less common stories that come to mind. Sometimes people have back pain and the underlying problem is far more grave, like cancer, and I get them to an oncologist. And as it turns out, that was the right call to make. We get the X-rays and they had cancer, we caught it. Or this one patient that came in and had a massive cyst on his spinal cord. He was making good progress, and then he stopped. I thought it was unusual and as it turned out he has a cyst that needed to be operated on, like yesterday. Those are the ones that stand out to me.
That’s the thing that gets me excited is that people have problems that haven’t been solved elsewhere, and we’re solving them. These are not easy cases, because if they were easy they were already been solved. So being able to solve the hard problems is what makes me excited. I don’t really have any other specific things other than pain sucks. If you have a different kind of pain that you’ve been unable to treat effectively, we can figure out what is causing the problem. We can fix most of them. So, the particulars of a case don’t matter to me if it’s not the one that’s in front of me that I’m trying to solve.
What are some misconceptions people have about what it is that you do here and chiropractors in general?
Dr. Brandon Cohen: The thing about chiropractic is it’s got a huge scope of practice. So, there is a lot of variety when it comes to chiropractors. There are people that try and practice close to what we do, which is one side of the spectrum. Then you have people who are walking around with a holistic/alternative, bordering on pseudoscientific, approach telling patients these unproven solutions are going to fix whatever they have. That’s kind of weird to be in the same scope but in a different professional category. There’s a bunch of really, really far ends to it and I think it’s important to make that distinction.
The most common thing that people think of when they think of chiropractors is, you know, adjustments and crunching bones and different things like that. What we do is prioritize figuring out what’s wrong and then apply the sweet spot treatment to the problem that the patient actually has, and in most situations, that doesn’t involve a lot of manipulation, if any at all.
The treatments and procedures that Dr. Brady has developed are so far ahead of everything else that exists. It feels really weird saying ‘I’m a chiropractor’ because it’s miles away from what my friends that I went to chiropractic college are doing. They’re all doing the same thing, adjusting people. I tried that for a while and what would happen is some people get better some of the time and we didn’t don’t know why. The thing about being a doctor is that we don’t get paid to get some people better some of the time. We get paid to figure out what’s wrong. That’s what we at Brady Back Institute do better than anybody else: figure out what’s wrong and go about fixing it rationally and coherently.
Do you have anything you would like to say to someone who would read this interview or something that someone should know?
Dr. Brandon Cohen:
You don’t have to suffer from pain. The people who get out of pain have people that keep looking. Too many people feel like their cases are unsolvable and they’ve given up because no one can solve their problems. If you have pain, there’s a reason for it, and we figure it out better than anybody else.
Thank you so much Dr. Cohen for taking the time to sit down and talk with me.
Takeaway #1: “The only way [a doctor can] help as many people as possible is to be as good as you possibly can and, this is the way to do it.”
Brady Back Institute is doing more than healing patients. Here, doctors are trained with skills lightyears ahead of conventional chiropractic teachings.
Takeaway #2: “What happens with most people is that they either have no diagnosis at all or have an incomplete diagnosis, which is why they only have partial answers or no answers to their problems.”
A complete diagnosis is the only way to get complete care. Our diagnostic systems are thorough and accurate.
Takeaway #3: “These are not easy cases, because if they were easy they were already been solved…The people who get out of pain have people that keep looking.”
Don’t give up hope. Keep trying. You deserve to live a pain free life.