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Chiropractic in the Ukraine: An interview with Dr. Randall Roffe

7/1/2013 (Archived)

Randall Roffe, D.C. (Davenport '80), decided to take a chance and move to the Ukraine to practice chiropractic in a land of few chiropractors. He is now the president of the Ukraine Chiropractic Association.  

How did you get started in chiropractic? 

When I was a psychology major, a friend introduced me to Palmer graduate Dr. Frank Lipsett in Williston, Fla. I had formerly been skeptical about chiropractic, because my mother had had no good results with her own low back pain. But Dr. Lipsett adjusted my atlas with toggle recoil after neurocalometer readings after he had determined that I had no recent trauma history. I immediately felt my long-standing, moderate scoliosis improve: I stood straighter and walked better. I felt better altogether. Frank did not require me to come back frequently. He charged only ten dollars cash a visit in the early 1970s. People came from all over the Southeast for his adjustments.

A year or so later, I had a surfing accident (I’m not really a surfer) that bent my thoraco-lumbar spine into a painful hyperextension almost like a croissant. Frank adjusted my atlas again--he did not adjust my thoracic spine--and I was amazed that I could immediately straighten up without pain. That sold me. 

What is your practice history? 

After graduating with honors from Palmer in 1980, I practiced in both Florida and California but had the best financial success in my first two years in Gainesville, Fla., in a largely cash-based practice. 

In over 30 years of practice I’ve had some results that have amazed me and my patients. Especially amusing is when the neurologists reverse their diagnoses and say, “Oh, the patient did not really have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (or any of several other neuropathies) after all.” Or, “The disc seems to have retracted back towards the proper space somewhat for some reason.”

Why did you come to Ukraine to practice? 

Nearing the year 2000, I was invited by Palmer graduate Dr. Stephen Press (Davenport '78) to come to Ukraine and establish the profession. Dr. Press impressed me with his Olympics practice experience and his international spirit. He and I have always been moderate in our relations with former Soviet countries, gaining respect from their best doctors while treading the difficult path of how to manage health care in the socialist versus free-market systems. 

It has been a real roller coaster but very inspiring on the fundamental questions of quality of care, philosophy and chiropractic inter-professional relations, which so far have been very good here. I am proud to teach our philosophy and review X-rays and MRIs with radiologists here. One of the top professors of radiology here has become a good contact, and he has a library of films rivaling Dr. (Robin) Canterbury’s, with especially good examples of advanced tuberculosis.

After sustaining a comminuted (five fragments) upper humerus fracture with near-lethal hematomae, with femoral contusions as well, due to a fall on the ice here, I had the first surgery of my life. The Ukrainian surgeon did very well, and now I have a titanium plate, and the goodwill of the best surgical facility in the country. Let’s build on this. Chiropractic is a great art, science and philosophy, but it cannot repair a comminuted fracture. Surgeons here marvel at us, and there is no jealousy … because there is no big money involved. The reputation of chiropractic has become a global legend!

We now have three practicing graduates from chiropractic colleges here. The other two D.C.s are Ukrainian citizens and recent graduates. We still do not have a law governing our practice – we are regarded as “therapists” by most. There are many lay practitioners of bone-setting here, and that complicates the situation. Let us offer them our education!

What can the profession do to help? 

We very much need the support of our chiropractic colleagues in developing our profession in these former Soviet countries. We need equipment: X-ray, better MRI, drop head-pieces, Activator and others. I work without any of them but fortunately have good relations here for highly affordable X-ray and MRI – but I can’t always get a good swimmer’s view or various special views, and the MRIs are not always good.

D.C.s come here to visit and often offer free care, which helps the people but does not always really help the development of the profession. We hope that visiting D.C.s will integrate their visits with us – that will boost the profession the best.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

How proud I am to have graduated from The Fountainhead!

If people are interested in learning more about practicing in the Ukraine or helping out, how should they contact you? 

They can e-mail me at ukrainechiropractic@yahoo.com.