The Healers

Tackling Pain


Former gridiron star Chris Colloca '90 went from bruiser to healer --- he's now a chiropractor.

State of the art chiropractor: Chris Colloca '90

by Kenny Berkowitz

As an inside linebacker for the Bombers, Chris Colloca '90 took more than his share of hits, as does any player who puts his all into his sport. He was on Ithaca's football team all four years of college, and in 1990 he was awarded all-American honors. At the time Colloca was an exercise science major and had two offers to start working as a college assistant football coach in the fall.

That's when a visit to a chiropractor changed his plans.

"I had no idea this was going to happen," says Colloca, who was spending the summer as a construction worker when pain in his hand grew so sharp he couldn't even swing a hammer. "I'd already tried everything else, and I thought I was going to have to get surgery. Instead, I went to see a chiropractor, and after a couple of weeks of his getting my joints back in line, I had full strength back in my hand. I just couldn't believe how simple it was."

Over those two weeks he learned that the pain in his hand had been caused by a lifetime of football collisions and that relief would come as soon as his chiropractor took pressure off the nerves in his neck. For Colloca, it was a revelation to see that his body was able to heal itself. Within a few months he'd begun studying chiropractic medicine.

Four years later he graduated with a doctor of chiropractic degree from Life College School of Chiropractic in Marietta, Georgia, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where he now works as a full-time chiropractor and director of State of the Art Chiropractic Center. He's on the postgraduate faculty of five chiropractic colleges, and after only eight years in the field he's got a CV that's almost 50 pages long, listing 26 papers published in biomedical journals, 97 in chiropractic journals, and 19 in conference proceedings.

"There's a huge change taking place in health care, away from medications and towards natural approaches to healing," he says. "There's a time and a place for medications, but nowadays people are looking inside themselves for help because they understand that health comes from within."


Together with his wife, accountant Tracy Perregaux Colloca '91 --- they met during his junior year while he was on crutches, his knee in a cast from a football injury --- Colloca runs a second business, Neuromechanical Innovations. The company markets books, videos, and diagnostic equipment for chiropractors. She does all the accounting for both businesses, while he keeps busy by giving a series of postgraduate seminars to chiropractors around the country. When not working in either of his two businesses, he's collaborating on new technology for chiropractic, including a computer-assisted device that assesses spinal health.

Currently pursuing a master's degree in kinesiology, which will help him design more complex studies as he shifts his focus towards chiropractic
research, Colloca still thinks about the classes he took at IC and the lessons he learned from Coach Jim Butterfield: to always give your best and to never give up. He also still plays an occasional game of football with friends and family but never regrets the decision not to be-come a coach. His years on the gridiron are still close to his heart, and he credits Butterfield with teaching him about integrity, efficiency, and perseverance, lessons that have paid off in the challenges of starting his two businesses and finding his path in alternative medicine.

"I would never have imagined that things would turn out as well as they have," says Colloca. "It's a gift to be able to watch the amazing healing potential of the body at work, and I just love to see people getting well."

Photos by Roger Hawkins

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A. Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications, 30 July, 2003