Career Showcase – Dr. Terah Wong, Chiropractor
Total Rehabilitation & Chiropractic Centre Richmond Hill
100 York Blvd. Richmond Hill, ON L3B 1J8
Michael Frankfort and Samantha Hendricks, Co-Chairs of the STAO Elementary Curriculum Committee, had the opportunity to interview Chiropractor Dr. Terah Wong to discuss his career path throughout his academic studies, his interest in science and the impact of some of his teachers.
Dr. Terah Wong has extensive experience in the healthcare field, both personally and professionally, that dates back to his high school days where he engaged in various sports such as volleyball, basketball, hockey, soccer, track and field and dance. Numerous activity-related injuries and a thirst for knowledge led him to the completion of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences at York University. While working with cardiac patients, firefighter applicants and teacher students, he also completed his certificate of Fitness Assessment and Exercise Counselling. Thereafter, working as a Certified Exercise Physiologist and a Registered Kinesiologist, he has helped many people regain their independence and empower them to change their lifestyles to maximize their health and performance.
Dr. Terah knew that his knowledge was limited and his desire to care more fully for his patients led him to the completion of Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), Doctor of Chiropractic Degree. He gained knowledge and insight from the academic community that he genuinely cares about, and he has always been focused on being the best and giving the best care to patients. His work experience has consisted of serving in community health clinics that support the Cantonese-speaking population, the LGBTQ2L+ community, and people of all ages with work or sport-related injuries. Furthermore, at CMCC Dr. Terah became certified in clinical acupuncture which is based upon Traditional Chinese Acupuncture. Having both an ‘east and west’ lens and knowledge-base when examining the human body enables him to add to the completeness of caring for his patients.
While working concurrently during his academic career at various multidisciplinary clinics, in addition to working through his own injuries, he has allowed him to attain a thorough understanding of the rehabilitative process. Whether individuals are getting back to everyday life activities, preparing for a sports competition/performance, needing more education or building better lifestyle habits to function at an improved/optimal level, Dr. Terah’s commitment to his patients and lifelong learning provides them with the best possible outcome.
What aspects of science and technology have helped to influence you in pursuing this career path – thinking about your elementary, high school and post-secondary experiences?
When I was in Grade 8, I participated in a science fair where the task was to create a poster or a model. Since I felt that I was not very artistic, I decided to make a model. In class, I had just learned about neurons and I really felt that they had such an interesting shape. I used a bunch of materials that I had found at home such as water bottles (Nodes of Ranvier), pipe cleaners (dendrites) and Styrofoam bowls (cell body). I was so intrigued at the idea that we are made up of tiny cells and in particular our brains are made up of millions of tiny cells called neurons. I was fascinated that electrical impulses could jump from one axon node to another and cause a release of chemicals. As well, all of our movement and action stem from electrical impulses and that those impulses even have an effect on our mood. This love and interest for science carried over to high school where I took as many science courses as I could. In Grade 12, the final project was to create a working model of a topic that was provided to me from a random draw, and I drew the knee. I built my model of the knee in the woodworking shop class that I was also enrolled in at the time. I was able to use scrap pieces of wood and put them together to create a model of the knee. If you take a look at the photos below, you can see that I have included the 3 major elements of the knee – tibia, fibula and femur. The waist bands represented the 4 major ligaments of the knee and between the knee, there was hot liquid glue (from a glue gun) that I used to make the meniscus.
What is a chiropractor?
Canada’s chiropractors are spine, muscle, and nervous system experts. They diagnose the causes and treat patients to relieve pain and prevent it from returning – helping them be healthy and active. What do chiropractors do as spine experts? The assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and preventative care of biomechanical disorders originating from the muscular, skeletal and nervous systems. They are a Primary Care Provider focussing on neuromusculoskeletal functions and disorders. Chiropractic care is a patient-centred, non-invasive, hands-on, regulated healthcare profession focussed on your spine, muscles, joints and nervous system. Chiropractors use the best available evidence and clinical expertise to diagnose issues that affect your body’s movement. They treat them without medication or surgery and prevent them from returning. Chiropractic care can also promote health and improve your quality of life, as well as alleviate pain. Simply put, anyone with headaches, history of car accidents, back pain, TMJ disorders, foot and ankle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, knee pain, “text neck”, work-related injuries, and so much more, will benefit from working with a chiropractor. (For more information: https://chiropractic.ca/)
What advice would you give to students in all grade levels on how to pursue their interests in working in rehabilitative medicine and/or sports performance? (For example: What courses should they take? What kind of volunteer work should they do?)
I recommend that students research the specific occupation or field that they are interested in, such as exercise science, kinesiology, physiotherapy, chiropractic, medical doctor, etc. They can volunteer at clinics and hospitals, and seek out any other types of opportunities that can provide them with first-hand experience in this career field. Next, they will need to identify their values and ask themselves if sports/rehabilitative medicine aligns with their values. Furthermore, they should identify their goals and understand that their goals may change over time. I highly suggest that they find a really good mentor or someone to ‘show them the ropes’. If becoming a chiropractic specialist is their dream, then they also have the opportunity to seek further education through the Sports Sciences Fellowship – a post-graduate residency for chiropractors to attain even more specialized skills in working with professional athletic teams from all over Canada and by working in hospitals. (For more information: https://rccssc.ca/)
What did you know about being a chiropractor before you enrolled in your studies? Are there any common misconceptions about chiropractic care? Is it always about adjustments?
I really didn’t know much if at all anything about chiropractic care before having to deal with my own back pain. Prednisone that I received relieved my chronic back pain of 6 years. So, after researching and talking to other health care providers I learned more about this profession. I found out that exercise, adjustments, acupuncture and the right treatment tailored for each person’s needs were huge components of chiropractic care that appealed to me. Being physically active helped me to give me a renewed lease on life and now I simply can’t go without being physically active, and this is the reason why I exercise six days per week.
Wait, what is that sound? It is dissolved gases leaving the joints. You can find a list of common myths about chiropractic treatment written by the Canadian Chiropractic Association online at: https://chiropractic.ca/blog/the-top-6-common-myths-about-chiropractic-treatment/. A key fact to remember is that chiropractic care is not always about the adjustments. Rather it’s about you as the individual person. Chiropractors practice Evidence-Based Medicine which takes into consideration three important aspects: 1) the best scientific evidence, 2) clinical experience, and 3) patient preference. Some of my patients don’t want any adjustments and so I tell them “that is perfectly fine” and then we can do something else that best suits their needs.
Why did you pursue chiropractic sciences?
I pursued a career in chiropractic sciences as it aligned with my values and it was based on my own personal injuries and my healing journey. The work is evidence-based, so I became part of a team whose main goal is to get people to feel and be better. The deep gratitude that I experience on a daily basis by helping people gain independence and live a life that is free from chronic suffering is truly what gets me up every morning. It is an extremely rewarding career!
If there was one take-home point, what would it be?
Motion is lotion for the body and joints. Everyone can find movement in some way, shape, or form.
Written by Michael Frankfort and Samantha Hendricks, Co-Chairs of STAO Elementary Curriculum Committee (February 4, 2022)