Hayes Modlin has always had an eye on a career in medicine. It wasn’t until recently, though, that he started to consider complementary and alternative medicine, a subject he is studying as part of Wofford’s Community of Scholars this summer. He explains how his interest blossomed.
“I recently went to Africa and was allowed to spend a couple of weeks in the operating room there,” Modlin says. “They actually let me cut people open. It was an incredible experience. Orthopedic surgery is the type of surgery that interests me the most, and that means hip replacements, lower back surgery, and bones.
“For Interim this past January, I wanted to do a comparative study between orthopedic surgeons and chiropractors. I went home and spent a couple of weeks with different orthopedic surgeons and different chiropractors. I really fell in love with chiropractics.”
This came as a surprise to Modlin, to say the least.
“I had grown up in a home that was very traditional in terms of medicine,” he says. “We always kind of frowned on chiropractics. But from what I saw, it’s legitimate. I saw people come in who could hardly walk and within 10 minutes they were in next to no pain and walking out the door. I saw that over and over again.
“Then I was with the surgeons, and everything was fine, but the time they get to spend with patients afterward is very limited. I found that I really enjoyed the chiropractic visits. There was no doubt in my mind that it was working, not just on back pain, but with allergies and headaches and things you wouldn’t think chiropractics could help.”
Chiropractics is just one of four complementary and alternative medicine modalities Modlin is focusing on. The other three are acupuncture, massage, and nutritional supplements. Each has its own appeal, but Modlin has a definite favorite.
“Chiropractic impresses me the most of the four,” he says. “After Interim, I loved chiropractic so much that I decided to do this project to see if the others had something to them, as well. I have found out that they do, but not to the same extent.”
Modlin’s Community of Scholars project is titled “Moving Outside the Realm of Conventional Allopathic Medicine.” His description of the project reads: “With increased costs, insurance difficulties, government involvement, and safety concerns, many individuals are turning away from conventional allopathic medicine and experimenting with forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAMs). Such practices have historically lacked the proper research necessary to gain widespread acceptance and incorporation into Western biomedicine. In the past couple decades, however, there has been an outbreak of studies involving CAM practices. My research will compile and examine various primary research articles to assess the efficacy of four specific CAM modalities. Such insight will lead to a more complete understanding of the best combination for overall healthcare.”
With health care and its rising costs dominating headlines right now, Modlin’s topic is sure to garner attention. He knows that many Western doctors look down on CAMs, and many patients are unwilling to give them a shot with their own health at stake.
“It’s true,” he says. “But now that the alternative medicine practitioners are willing to do the research to prove that what they do works, they’re getting a lot more respect in the medical field. You can still find doctors who talk down about chiropractic medicine, but overall it’s getting more respect.”
Modlin can vouch for that personally.
“Everyone in my family is now into chiropractic care, and they’ll all tell you that it works,” he says.