MATTHEW M. ANTONUCCI, DC, DACNB, FACFN, FABCDD, FABVR, FABNN, FABBIR, FICC
A DEFINING MOMENT
If I had to pick a single event in my life that shaped who I am today, it would be one Monday morning, when I was around the age of 7 years old, my mother dropped me off at my grandparents’ house, for them to babysit me for the day.
What was so special about that day? Nothing at the time. As a matter of fact, it was a normal day at my “Nonnie and Papa’s” house, despite one change.
My grandparents were off-the-boat Ukranian. They were prisoners at the Nazi concentration camp, Dachau, during World War II because my grandfather refused to join the Nazi army. When US troops liberated the camp in April of 1945, my grandparents with my eldest uncle left and worked to save up enough money to buy a one-way ticket out of Europe. When they arrived in America, they had only the clothes on their body, no money, and did not speak a word of English. So they became very resourceful. My grandfather worked 3-4 jobs his entire life, and my grandmother raised 7 children working a full-time job as well. So they became very resourceful, despite their economic status and hardships.
My grandparents didn’t have many children's toys at their house, so my grandfather did his best and found me something to play with. Every day, I would arrive at his house and he would hand me a Maxwell House tin-can filled with nails, a 2x4 piece of wood, and a hammer, and I would hammer nails for what seemed like hours – and loved it. That one day that my mother dropped me off at their house, my grandfather handed me the wood, the Maxwell House tin-can, and a screw-driver. I opened the lid of the can, and inside there were screws inside. I remember as clear as day, my grandfather looked at me and said, “Matthew, life isn't always going to hand you nails to hammer. You'd better learn how to use a screwdriver.”
At the time, I wasn’t so happy, but looking back at this moment, I realize the sheer brilliance in what he did. I believe that day made me the problem-solver that I love to be, today. I believe that this story applies to every element of my life, but more specifically; patient care. It's about problem-solving and expanding your toolbox.
ASSEMBLING MY TOOLBOX
Nearly everyone has heard the famous saying by Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail". That saying applies to many professions, but few as significantly as healthcare. Whenever I speak to a group of healthcare professionals or aspiring healthcare professionals, I tell this story because it reminds me why I have pursued the educational path that I did. I knew that I wanted to be a physician. I loved the challenge associated with it, as well as the reward that comes along with helping someone in need. I just didn't know what type of physician I wanted to be: a medical doctor, an osteopath, or a chiropractor. After carefully weighing the choices, I really found myself drawn to the non-allopathic approach of chiropractic. There was just something empowering about helping someone with just your knowledge and your hands. So, with that motivation, I applied and was accepted to chiropractic school.
Throughout chiropractic school, there was so much dogmatic "philosophy" thrown around, most of it surrounding the superiority of chiropractic, and the criticism of the medical model, moreover how medical physicians' only tools were drugs and surgery. What I found very interesting (and quite ironic) was the fact that they believed that true chiropractors only manipulate or "adjust" mythological "subluxations" of the spine. The epitome of having a hammer and looking for nails. I became quite disenfranchised with chiropractic on this basis, applied to medical school, and was about to transfer until I met Drs. Adam Klotzek and Ted Carrick.
Dr. Carrick has been labeled the father of Chiropractic Neurology, a government-recognized sub-specialty of the chiropractic profession, and Dr. Adam Klotzek had been his long-time protege. I heard Dr. Klotzek first speak at a Carrick Insitute conference in Atlanta, on the topic of the Neurology of the Spinal Manipulation. He described this spinal adjustment as one tool in a Chiropractic Neurologist's toolbox, to affect brain function and body health. Then he showed us video cases of Dr. Carrick treating some of his patients with complex neurological conditions that literally disappeared in front of our eyes, using nothing by his knowledge and his hands. This is exactly what I needed to hear and see. I was going to be a Chiropractic Neurologist.
Fast-forward 4 years-- 4 years of chiropractic school and 3 years (more than 900 hours) of specialty training in Chiropractic Neurology-- I had graduated as a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), and also passed my neurology board examinations to become a Chiropractic Neurologist and a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic Neurology Board (DACNB). I moved to Charleston, South Carolina (USA) to open up my very own integrated health clinic called NeuroLogic Integrated Health. Embracing the concept of integrated health care, I completed and passed board examinations to become a Fellow of the American College of Functional Neurology (FACFN) and for 1-year fellowships in Childhood Developmental (FABCDD), Vestibular Rehabilitation (FABVR), Functional Medicine/Nutrition and Neurochemistry (FABNN). I truly felt like I was gaining the tools to help patients with movement disorders, childhood developmental challenges, complex pain syndromes, vestibular disorders, degenerative disorders, and more.
A LIFE-CHANGING CALL
One day, my cell phone rang and the caller ID read "Ted Carrick". I let the phone ring 3 times, as to not seem so eager to take his call, and he says "Hello, my boy! I have an amazing opportunity that I'd like to extend to you. How would you like to come back to Atlanta and do a neurology residency, under my tutelage?" How could I say no? I asked him to give me 3 months to close my practice, and fulfill my obligations to my patients, and I would be there.
I spent 2 years working under Dr. Carrick's auspices, watching and learning everything that I could from him
and completing a 2-year fellowship in Brain Injury and Rehabilitation (FABBIR). I was appointed a faculty position with the Carrick Institute as an Assistant Professor of Clinical Neuroscience and later promoted to an Associate Professor. In the fall of 2014, I was bestowed one of the highest honors in the chiropractic profession; a lifetime induction as a fellow of the International College of Chiropractic (FICC), for "outstanding contributions and service to the chiropractic profession".
In 2014, I also moved to Cocoa, Florida (USA) to be with my (future) wife. I began planning to open a world-class brain performance and rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Florida (USA). In the meantime, I was traveling the world lecturing on clinical neuroscience for the Carrick Insitute, as it was once taught to me.
After nearly 9 years of friendship and professional collaboration, on April 11, 2015, I married my soul-mate, partner-in-crime, and Dr. Carrick's daughter (with his permission), Tricia Carrick. Gaining that permission was certainly an interesting story.
Now, I am happily married, with 3 stepsons (Tedy, Boston, and Brady). I still travel the world teaching clinical neuroscience (approx 20 events per year) and treat patients with my amazing clinical staff at Plasticity Brain Centers in Orlando (USA). I am also the vice-president of the American Board of Brain Injury and Rehabilitation, as well as the vice-president of the American Chiropractic Association's Council on Neurology.
I will always be a life-long scholar. I continue to learn every chance that I get, from anyone who is willing to impart knowledge on me, with the goal of further expanding my "clinical toolbox".
BS, Natural Sciences (Biology): Central Connecticut State University (2001-2004), Excelsior College (2015)
Doctorate in Chiropractic Medicine: Life University College of Chiropractic (2005-2009)
Clinical Neuroscience Training: Carrick Institute for Graduate Studies (2006-Current)
Clinical Neurology Residency: Various Locations Under The Auspices of Prof. Ted Carrick (2012-2015)
Functional Medicine Training: Apex Energetics Seminars and Carrick Institute (2010-2012)
Certification, Physical Therapy: National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (2009)
License to Practice Chiropractic, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Utah
Diplomate, Chiropractic Neurology: American Board of Chiropractic Neurology (2009)
Fellow, American Board of Functional Neurology (2010)
Fellow, American Board of Childhood Developmental Disorders (2010)
Fellow, American Board of Vestibular Rehabilitation (2011)
Fellow, American Board of Neurochemistry and Nutrition (2012)
Fellow, American Board of Brain Injury and Rehabilitation (2014)
Fellow (Hon), International College of Chiropractic (2015)