Finding the Right Balance for Healing
Dr. Andrew Serlin
Dr. Andrew Serlin, medical director of LifeWave Institute, LLC, in Northbrook, opened the center in 2012, which specializes in chiropractic, aquatic rehabilitation, massage therapy, acupuncture and tai chi. This was a major career change as he had earlier spent a decade as a criminal defense attorney. Serlin, who has studied martial arts for 30 years, is committed to guiding his patients toward a healthy life of strength, balance and longevity.
Because his focus is rehabilitation, it helps that Serlin is no stranger to injury himself. An accident in a high school gym class left him with a torn meniscus, which resulted in surgery and immobilization. “I was incredibly stiff, and my leg was severely atrophied,” he says. After surgery, his surgeons didn’t offer any treatment except to independently get in the pool and work on his flutter kick. He suffered another injury from a karate mishap a few years later, and then had another surgery resulting from a soccer injury. Subsequently, while studying in Spain right before starting law school, Serlin was involved in an automobile accident and suffered severe whiplash.
The injuries left him in pain and caused trouble with concentration, headaches and difficulty sleeping, but the only treatment offered was Tylenol and prescription medications. A friend recommended he see a chiropractor, and after a six-week regimen, Serlin was back on the path to functioning normally. “Having chiropractic treatment literally allowed me to stay in law school,” he says.
After working on a case in which a man was hit by a car and only found relief through a chiropractor, Serlin decided that he needed to make a change from his legal career. “I felt like I wasn’t really helping people at the end of the day, and I wanted to do more,” he says. So, with a wife and two young children at home, Serlin went back to college to study undergraduate organic chemistry, physics and biology, became a doctor of chiropractic and learned acupuncture. He opened LifeWave Institute and strives for his patients to achieve their optimal ability to function.
“I wanted to create a facility and a practice that were meaningful for people who desire to put together all the pieces of their health and rehab. I combine the approaches of chiropractic care, massage therapy, land-based physical rehabilitation and aquatic rehabilitation with Eastern health practices of acupuncture, gua sha, qigong and tai chi ch’uan,” he says. He also merges some of these practices, such as doing ai chi, a form of aquatic exercise used for recreation, relaxation, fitness, and physical rehabilitation based on tai chi and qigong.
His first focus is chiropractic treatment, because it is a non-invasive, non-surgical method with almost immediate results. “Much of the focus of chiropractic care is on removing interference from the nervous system. When irritation of the nervous system occurs due to spinal biomechanical abnormalities, the body cannot function at its optimal level. The results are pain, frustration and headaches, as well as a variety of other problems that prevent the normal ability to do the activities of daily life,” he says.
Serlin’s early experiences in the pool were not forgotten. When he began his work as a doctor of chiropractic, he noticed that many of his patients, particularly those that were overweight or had physical limitations, were not progressing as they should. When some of these patients went to see their surgeons, they were told that their options were either surgery or aquatic therapy. Serlin knew the benefits of rehabilitation in the water and decided that combining chiropractic care and aquatic rehab with mind/body practices was the approach that could make a difference.
“The natural buoyant factors of water allow for 80 percent of the body’s weight to be removed when submerged to the neck. This allows a natural decompression of the spine and other weight- bearing joints of the body,” he says. LifeWave Institute has a state-of-the-art warm water therapy pool featuring an underwater treadmill, variable resistance jets, a hydrotherapy massage hose and an underwater camera. “The camera gives you feedback so you can see what your feet are doing while you’re working. As soon as you look in a mirror or look down, you’re already compromising your form in some way,” he says.
Because Serlin’s work is all done one-on-one, he is able to really understand his patients’ goals, limitations and needs. He does take Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance and wants to lease out part of his space to an independent practitioner seeking to establish a practice. The flexibility to work with a variety of patients in a holistic rehabilitation setting is very rewarding to him. “All these techniques both strengthen and relax the body and the mind, and I love finding the right balance and helping people heal,” he says.
LifeWave Institute is located at 3113 Dundee Rd., in Northbrook. For more information, call 224-723-5693 or visit LifeWaveInstitute.com.