February 2007
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Dr. Kimberly Stephenson, Cert. Veterinary ChiroPractitioner

 
  By evaluating her patients, Stephenson is able to discover their areas of discomforts as well as establish personal connections with each of them. This camaraderie creates a comfortable rehabilitation environment for both physician and patient.
By Grace Smith

Chiropractic work has been commonplace in the medical field since its beginning in the late 1800s. Chiropractors are trained to treat many joint and spinal related discomforts people encounter. However, human beings are not the only species who experience vertebral complications.

Dr. Kimberly Stephenson, D.C., and her husband, Jason, are both licensed chiropractors. After graduating from Sherman College in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the couple married and moved to Hartselle, Jason’s hometown. They opened Stephenson Chiropractic and Wellness Center, now in their third year; the couple’s practice has seen great success.

Dr. Kimberly Stephenson has now expanded her clientele by including animals. She works with Dr. Michael Brown, a veterinarian from Arab. Dr. Stephenson practices with his veterinary affiliation according to the practice acts of the State of Alabama in every case.

 
Dr. Kimberly Stephenson, D.C., became interested in using Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation or VOM when she was in college. She began working with animals using the technology in the spring of 2006. Although she is certified to work with different species of animals, her work has been focused on equine.  
Stephenson said Dr. William Inman, a veterinarian originally from Washington, developed Veterinary Orthopedic Manipulation, or VOM, Technology in the 1980s. This technique involves using low-force adjusting devices to safely correct lameness and spinal disorders in animals.

Stephenson attended a series of seminars on VOM Technology. This additional coursework and field experience has allowed her to become a CVCP, or Certified Veterinary ChiroPractitioner. She began using the technique last spring and has worked with horses and dogs to date.

"I have a love for animals," Stephenson said. "So, it works out well."

Although VOM technology is not considered chiropractic, it does involve some techniques similar to those used in human chiropractics.

Stephenson said she can make adjustments on animals that are experiencing subluxation from misalignments in their vertebra. By stimulating myofascial release trigger points, she is able to release tight muscles helping to lessen lameness that occurs in animals.

Her primary VOM Technology patients have been horses and so far most of her work has been with lameness in performance horses. Stephenson explained how her work with animals does not involve any hand adjusting. Instead it utilizes instruments to correct the animal’s discomforts.

 
  VOM does not include hand adjustments. Instead, it utilizes instruments to stimulate trigger points improving lameness in animals by releasing tight muscles.
"Humans can tell you, ‘I am hurting.’" Stephenson said. "Animals can’t; you have to find it."

In searching for the reason for lameness, she has had the opportunity to establish personal connections with her canine and equine patients. Stephenson spoke of one horse she took particular interest in.

She described a two-year-old mare who was suffering from muscular atrophy after her hind leg was caught in her halter when she was trying to scratch her face. Stephenson was called in to realign her spine; and she said initially the horse was nervous and edgy each time she would work with her. As time progressed, not only did her ailment improve but also her trust in Dr. Stephenson.

"Over the whole process (vet care, owner care, and VOM) she began to enjoy being handled and that really brought out her personality," she said. "She had been through such a traumatic experience and it was wonderful to see her progression in health and in personality."

Although her work is primarily with human beings, Stephenson said she looks forward to doing more work with animals.

"They each have their own gratification," Stephenson said. "Its almost like two different worlds and each is special in its own way."

Grace Smith is an AFC management services trainee.