Coon Rapids’ first chiropractor set to retire

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Contributing Writer

Dr. James Brandt, the first chiropractor in the city, is retiring from Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office.

Dr. James Brandt (right) is retiring after 47 years as a chiropractor at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office, which he opened in January 1970 becoming the first chiropractor in the city. His son, Dr. Ryan Brandt (left), joined him as an intern in 1999, then full time in 2000 and will continue the practice.
Dr. James Brandt (right) is retiring after 47 years as a chiropractor at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office, which he opened in January 1970 becoming the first chiropractor in the city. His son, Dr. Ryan Brandt (left), joined him as an intern in 1999, then full time in 2000 and will continue the practice.

His official retirement date is Jan. 19, 2017, 47 years to the day when he opened his first office in Northdale Shopping Center in 1970, but he won’t be seeing any patients after the end of this year.

According to Brandt, he scaled back his work at the clinic to 2 1/2 days a week a few years ago, but he first considered full retirement at the end of 2015, then again in June before finally deciding that it was time “at the third attempt.”

“I have found it hard to leave because this practice and my patients have been a family,” Brandt said.

“Mentally I am not ready, but physically I am. This is a very physical occupation and my hands and shoulders are beat up.”

Brandt’s path to Coon Rapids began in DeSmet, a small town in east central South Dakota, where he was born, raised and graduated from high school.

His father, a truck driver, and his mother, who was secretary for the school superintendent, were patients of the local chiropractor and he was treated at that clinic for sports-related injuries in football and basketball, Brandt said.

“That piqued my interest,” he said. “In seventh grade I wanted to be a chiropractor and I never wavered.”

Brandt received his pre-chiropractic training at Huron College in South Dakota before coming to the Twin Cities to attend Northwestern College of Chiropractic, from where he earned his doctor of chiropractic degree in 1969.

He began his career practicing in Minneapolis for a few months, but he wanted to open his own practice and chose Coon Rapids because there was no chiropractor in the city at the time, Brandt said.

Brandt opened his first office in Northdale Shopping Center in January 1970, then in 1977 he moved into a new building at 113th Avenue and Northdale Boulevard that he designed specifically for his practice, he said.

According to Brandt, he never stopped pursuing education, receiving post-graduate certification nonsurgical/nonpharmacological chiropractic orthopedics in 1975, diplomate in chiropractic orthopedics in 1980 and a master’s degree in biomechanical trauma from Lynn University, Boca Raton, Florida, in 1994.

He is a fellow and president of the Academy of Chiropractic Orthopedists, a position he has held for 18 years while serving on the board since 1987.

“This certification board has expanded into an international certification body which requires a great deal of travel,” said Brandt, who plans to continue his work with the academy.

Brandt’s practice expanded in June 1999 when his son, Dr. Ryan Brandt, interned with him and then joined the practice on a full-time basis in February 2000.

“It has been one of the fantastic joys of life spending the last 17 years with Ryan in practice,” he said. “Not only is he a great colleague, but a source to discuss challenging and troubling cases.”

According to Ryan Brandt, he received treatment for sports injuries from his father while he was growing up and he thought “it was cool.”

But when he decided he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps, he was not sure of the reaction because Brandt had never pushed him to do so, Ryan Brandt said.

Instead, Ryan Brandt asked his mother what she thought and she told him that his father would be delighted, and when he broached the subject with his father, Brandt was, he said.

“It has been an honor to be with my dad and learn from the best,” Ryan Brandt said. “He has worked long and hard and I am happy for him on his retirement.”

“I am eager to continue to see patients and move forward with top quality care.”

According to Brandt, a major change in the chiropractic profession he has seen in his long career is its integration into the general health care stream. “When I started chiropractic was marginalized,” Brandt said.

Brandt got to know and developed a professional relationship with the late Drs. Matt Plasha and Dr. James Sipe of the Coon Rapids Clinic.

Advances in technology have also changed the chiropractic profession, for example the advent of the MRI and digital imagery X-rays, he said.

“We have to keep up or get left behind,” Brandt said.

That includes education and certification in specialties, he said.

He attributed the success of his practice to being honest with people, telling them when he can’t help them, knowing where to refer them and giving them confidence, Brandt said.

“I have seen so many families, four generations over the years,” he said. “One lady who came in last year I had not seen for 30 years.”

With his retirement, Brandt does not plan to make a complete break from the clinic, he said.

While he will not be at the office, he will remain an active consultant for the doctors and plans to continue to write professional articles and develop articles for the clinic website, Brandt said.

Brandt has been very active in the community, serving as an active member of the Coon Rapids Rotary Club for 31 years, including twice a president; founding member of the Coon Rapids Crime Prevention Association and still a member of the board after 27 years; a founding member of the Anoka-Ramsey Community College Foundation Board; and a team physician for the college in the early 1970s.

Brandt has been married nearly 50 years to his wife, Carolyn, and they have two children, Ryan and Tara, and five grandchildren.Dr. Mark Nelson, a native of Coon Rapids is joining Ryan Brandt at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office on a part-time basis.

The son of retired Coon Rapids Police Chief Jerry Nelson and his wife Arlene, Nelson was a teen patient of Brandt and that attracted him to a career in the chiropractic profession, according to Nelson.

He got his chiropractic degree in 1983 and practiced full time in California before coming back to Minnesota in the mid-2000s, Nelson said.

Since then, Nelson has had a part-time relief role at chiropractic clinics in the Twin Cities, including Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office, filling in for vacations and in a long-term capacity, he said.

According to Nelson, he specializes in chiropractic orthopedist work, which he described as a “niche procedure.”

“I treat a lot of sports injuries, for example, to the ankle and extremities,” Nelson said.

Nelson described the opportunity to work at Coon Rapids Chiropractic Office as “serendipity.”

He and his wife, Kay, have a son, Erick, 35.