Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services expanded its offerings throughout the last decade, with the addition of an imaging center, physical therapy services and an urgent care clinic. Tribal member Dr. Wylie Briggs, D.C., joined health services staff in mid-August as the Nation’s first chiropractor.
“Since I became an employee of the Potawatomi Nation and got to know more about what all happens here … I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a member of all this that’s going on,” he said. “Just the things they’re doing to help everybody and just work together is just amazing to me.”
Dr. Briggs lived in New Mexico for most of his life, which made connecting to CPN and his heritage difficult. However, the Leton family descendant moved to Oklahoma nearly 23 years ago, and CPNHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Vascellaro, D.O., recruited him to work for the Tribe in 2020. The new and exciting opportunity surprised Briggs.
“I thought it’d be a great fun challenge, basically — an opportunity to help the Potawatomi people or any tribal members in the area,” Briggs said. “Maybe they weren’t able to get to a chiropractor before. And I just thought that’d be really something else to be able to help and introduce chiropractic to the ones that had not had a chance to witness it or be a participant with it.”
Decades of experience
Dr. Briggs began seeing patients 23 years ago. He decided to attend chiropractic school at nearly 35 years old, inspired by his grandfather who was a chiropractor and owned a practice.
“I started to go back to school again, didn’t know why I was going to go back to school. My grandfather, who was a chiropractor, called me up and said, ‘Hey, come talk to me again.’ So, I sat down with him and had a long talk with him and decided this was the thing to do. I’m glad I did. I’m really glad I did. I really enjoy taking care of my patients,” Briggs said.
In 1997, he graduated with his Doctor of Chiropractic from the Parker University College of Chiropractic in Dallas, Texas. The university has received recognition as one of the top programs of its kind in the U.S. Dr. Briggs then moved to Oklahoma and took over his grandfather’s practice in El Reno. In 2012, he opened his own office in Oklahoma City, which he ran until this year.
“Then Dr. Vascellaro came along with this offer, and it was just too great of an opportunity to pass up,” Briggs said.
Dr. Briggs believes his skills help complete CPNHS offerings. While many people think of chiropractic as pain management for the back and neck, he approaches his practice in more holistic terms.
“We can work on knees. We can work on elbows. We can work on a wrist. If there’s a joint there, we can work on it, basically. There’s so much more to it than just low back pain and neck pain, but that is where the majority of patients come from,” Briggs said.
He also focuses on overall patient health and guides them through improvements in their movement, nutrition and lifestyle from the first visit. Dr. Briggs recognizes the uniqueness of a Native American health facility that offers chiropractic care.
“By starting here, I’m hoping that this will open up the eyes of all the other tribes as well, and they’ll start implementing chiropractic clinics there also,” he said. “And one of my goals basically is to be a flagship, if you want to call it that, to be a model for everybody else to say, ‘Hey, (CPN) can do it. So can we. Let’s do it.’”
Currently, Dr. Briggs takes appointments at the CPN Physical Therapy offices on the second floor of the CPN West Clinic Imaging Center. Patient service always remains at the forefront of his mind.
“I feel like I want to give more to the patient because they got in their car; they drove all the way over to see me. There are in a lot of pain, and I want to reward them for trusting me to take care of them. So I do everything I can to make them feel as good as I can while they’re there,” Briggs said.
He offers several amenities, including roller tables and decompression tables for spinal disc problems.
“And then our friendly faces will be there, of course,” Briggs said.
The Tribe is renovating a building near the FireLake Express Grocery in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, for a stand-alone chiropractic clinic.
“We are in the process of making it more patient-friendly and easier for the patients to maneuver around,” Briggs said. “We’re adding some rooms, taking some walls down, doing things like that to make it more conducive to what we want to be able to do for our patients.”
Patients can schedule appointments by calling Citizen Potawatomi Nation Health Services at 405-878-4693. Find more information online at cpn.news/health.