RIVER JUNCTION — The staff will be the first to tell you River Junction Chiropractic is a bit out of the way.
“It’s the only chiropractic clinic in Iowa on a dirt road,” Connie Waltz-Zdrazil told a visitor.
Waltz-Zdrazil and husband, Gene Zdrazil, moved his practice from West Branch to Riverside Junction’s 1880s-vintage former general store and post office in 1997, seven years after they’d moved into the place.
“This is my non-retirement retirement practice,” Zdrazil, 71, said on one of those unseasonably warm pre-Christmas afternoons as sunshine flooded windows facing south toward the Iowa River. The couple discovered the store, built of local brick between 1880 and ’85, as it was undergoing a slow restoration after years of neglect.
“We weren’t looking to move,” said Waltz-Zdrazil, 70. “We came to a garage sale out here, and Gene said, ‘We’re going to buy this house.’”
The couple completed the restoration and moved upstairs before deciding to move Zdrazil’s practice to the hamlet surrounded by park land.
“We figured out at least half my patients were coming from Iowa City to West Branch to see me,” Zdrazil said. “Being a sociologist, I knew a chiropractor could survive just about anywhere.”
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Born in Louisiana and reared in Minnesota, Zdrazil became fascinated by chiropractic, the alternative medicine concerned largely with the diagnosis and treatment of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, while completing his Ph.D. in sociology at Louisiana State University.
“I jumped the track,” he recalled.
That led to the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport — “the original chiropractic school,” Zdrazil said. “Most people don’t know chiropractic started in Iowa.”
His life took another turn in Davenport.
“I fell in love with an Iowa girl,” he said. “I’ve loved being in Iowa.”
In addition to chiropractic manipulation, Zdrazil offers “cold laser” therapy, custom shoe orthotics and a flotation tank.
While high-power lasers cut through tissue for surgery, low-power or “cold” lasers stimulate tissue repair, according to Zdrazil. He bought one for the clinic soon after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved its use in 2004.
Also known as isolation tanks, flotation tanks are sealed and soundproofed. Users lie in a bath of water and Epsom salts for an hour, cut off from any outside stimulus.
“It does funny things to your brain because your brain is always deciding what to respond to, and there’s nothing to respond to,” Zdrazil said. “I’m a real believer in them.
“People interested in inner voyaging” are flotation-tank users, Zdrazil said, although the mineral bath and zero-gravity effect can also relieve joint stress from arthritis.
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The couple tailors clinic billings to meet Medicare regulations, which ban most preventive-care measures, and to allow patients to be reimbursed through their health-savings accounts.
“We were constantly trying to figure out how to fit in system,” Zdrazil said.
He said patients these days are more interested in a holistic approach to maintaining wellness.
The couple values the relaxed pace of their idyllic setting.
“We don’t see nearly as many people as we did in West Branch,” said Waltz-Zdrazil. “But it’s very rewarding to spend time with them.”
Even when that might run counter to the advice they get from insurance specialists who focus on quick sessions to maximize the patient count.
“We like to hear about the new babies and puppies,” Zdrazil said.
AT A GLANCE
Owner: Gene Zdrazil and Connie Waltz-Zdrazil
Business: River Junction Chiropractic Clinic
Address: 6090 River Junction Rd. SE, Lone Tree
Phone: (319) 629-5324
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