Karen Chan ’99 is a Chiropractor working in private practice. Her vision is to help others maintain a balanced lifestyle and strive for them to reach their full potential.
- Name: Karen Chan
- Graduating Year: 1999
- Years at CIS: 7 Years
- College and Degree: Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons), University of Hong Kong; Research Assistant, Chinese University of Hong Kong; PhD Candidate at the Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, based at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital; Bachelor of Chiropractic Science at Macquarie University, Sydney; Masters of Chiropractic at Macquarie University, Sydney
- Current City of Residence: Hong Kong
- Lived In: Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney
As part of International Women’s Day, we asked Karen the following IWD-related questions:
Which of these IWD values mean the most to you, and why?
- Justice, Dignity, Hope, Equality, Collaboration, Tenacity, Appreciation, Respect, Empathy, Forgiveness
The IWD value that mean the most to me is Empathy. As we observe, read, watch and listen to situations, people and incidences around us, we take time to ponder, reflect and try to understand what would it be like if we were in their shoes. Throughout our lives, empathy plays an important part in our growth and understanding of different cultures, values, social-economic situations, lifestyles, health, history and backgrounds. This will not only give light to various perspectives of the same situation or person, but it will also allow us to develop respect and a kinder relationship with other people. As we learn and observe more of our differences and value our diversity, not only will we live a richer, fuller and more colourful life, we will also discover similar values that bring us together as a community.
Who is the woman that most inspires you, and why?
Since I was a little girl, I had watched documentaries and read children’s books about Dr. Jane Goodall. I had always been intrigued by her curiosity, inquisitive mind, compassion, care and clear ability to communicate her findings and thoughts on the environment, especially on Chimpanzees in Gombe, Tanzania. I had the pleasure to hear her speak when she visited Hong Kong in November 2014, together with her mascot, Mr. H, a plush toy monkey. Her passion, clarity, experience, understanding and vision on how we should move forward in protecting our animals, plants, the ecosystem and the environment was intriguing and exemplary.
Could you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in Hong Kong, and moved to Singapore when I was 2 years old. I spent a few years in Singapore before I headed to Melbourne where I spent most of my primary school years. I moved back to Hong Kong to complete high school and university. I have a brother, who is also a CIS Alum.
After graduating from CIS, I completed a Bachelor of Social Sciences (Hons) at the University of Hong Kong. I was a member of Lady Ho Tung Hall and played for their field hockey and tennis teams in the University Inter-Hall Competitions. Our field hockey team reached the champion fight finals. I was also part of the HKU Student Union Choir.
When did you decide that you wanted to study chiropractic?
The journey was not straightforward. I had intended to become a Professor and a researcher at a University. I had a career change after seeing a chiropractor who treated and relieved my chronic neck pain and headaches effectively without the need for medication or surgery.
Can you tell us more about your practice?
My practice is a family-based practice where I provide specialized spinal and musculoskeletal care for people from all stages of life, this includes pregnancy, paediatric, work strains, sports injuries, and degenerative spinal conditions in the elderlies. The main treatment is manual therapy through chiropractic adjustments to the spine, joints and muscles of the whole body. The aim is to remove inference to the nervous system, allowing the nervous system to function to its optimal potential and help the body to heal itself. Additional forms of treatment include soft-tissue work, dry-needling and electrical modalities. Customized-orthotics, nutritional supplements and exercise therapy is also provided. If necessary, I will refer for diagnostic tests such as X-rays, MRIs or CT scans.
As a Chiropractor in Hong Kong, I find it important to take into account the patient’s environmental, social and cultural conditions when providing health advice and exercise therapy. Understanding the patient’s lifestyle, personality, and habits allows me to provide suitable health advice for their condition. For example, providing home exercises that accommodate to their home environment.
What are some of the common reasons that patients come to see you?
Most patients come to see me with musculoskeletal conditions, which include lower back pain, muscles strains, neck pain, headaches, dizziness, numbness and upper and lower limb pain. I also manage patients with adolescent and adult scoliosis, slouched postures and poor balance. The goal of treatment is to look for the cause of the patient’s condition, balance the body and through chiropractic adjustments to the spine and joints, remove interference to the nervous system to allow the body to heal itself. When the nervous system is functioning well, the body can continue to function to its best ability and adapt to various challenges of everyday life.
I also look into the patient’s lifestyle choices, correct/incorrect postures, ergonomics, teach exercise methods, provide nutritional advice and prescribe orthotics if needed. An imbalanced life-style can overstress the body and start the cause of many disease states such as neck pain, shoulder pain, wrist pain, headache and back pain and other conditions. This may include studying and working for long-hours, lack of exercise and sleep, poor postures and ergonomics, incorrect sporting techniques, poor nutrition, mental stress, improper shoes, obesity, carrying heavy school bags and so on.
The World Health Organization (1948) stated “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
As you said, lifestyle choices play a big part in overall health, but it would be interesting to hear about what that looks like for you.
As a chiropractor, there is a strong belief that the body has the ability to heal itself. Therefore, I have a choice to create an environment for my body so that it can reach to its optimal potential everyday.
I aim to do 60 minutes of exercise everyday, 30 minutes of anaerobic exercise and 30 minutes of aerobic exercise. To help integrate exercise into my lifestyle, during my free time and when socializing with friends, I will choose to do activities which involve exercise and the outdoors. To prevent injuries from sport, I will warm up and warm down before and after each exercise session. I will also rehabilitate, practice and train my body to prepare for sporting competitions.
Regarding my diet, I enjoy buying unprocessed foods that are in season, fresh and organic. These foods taste better and are packed full of vitamins and nutrients, providing me energy throughout the day.
I find it important to find time during the day to rest, relax and calm my mind either by reading a good book, playing music, creating art, meditation or having a chat with a friend. I also make sure I get 8 hours of sleep every night, as I know a lot of cell recovery occurs during sleep.
As the body will encounter undue stress from time to time, I will have my body examined and adjusted by a chiropractor on a monthly or bimonthly basis, to help maintain the health of my spine and nervous system.
In your opinion, is the current pandemic and the fact that many children and adults are studying and working from home impacting posture?
The current pandemic has affected the overall health of children and adults who are spending most of their time studying and working from home. I am seeing patients seeking help with ailments resulting from poor ergonomic working conditions at home and the lack of exercise. This has resulted in poor posture and stress on the spine.
Would you have advice for those alumni who might be undecided as to which career path to choose for themselves?
I suggest for you to write a flow chart to help you brainstorm or even re-create which areas in your life or in your personality you find important at that moment in time. Then look at career options that align to these attributes. For example, are you interested in working face to face with people? Or are you interested in the scientific or technical methods of how things work?
My second advice is to talk, observe or intern with people who are currently in the profession you are interest in or would like to enter into. This will give you a better picture of the profession’s environment. Will you see yourself grow, thrive and enjoy this working environment?
My last advice is to be adaptive, flexible and have an open mind to new methods of working and thinking. Sometimes it may take a few tangents to reach to your career goals.
Can you share what your plans for the future are? Is the future in Hong Kong or do you rather see yourself elsewhere?
My vision is to continue to develop health and wellness for Hong Kong people and the Hong Kong Community. A healthy community brings growth and improved quality of life for its people and the city overall. If opportunities arise, I will also share this vision to other cities and countries.
What was your most memorable CIS moment or significant moment that stays in your memory?
Climbing to the top of Mt. Kinabalu, in Sabah and seeing the sunrise.
How did your CIS experience contribute to who you are today?
CIS has allowed me to develop an international mind-set, a global understanding and to think from different cultural perspectives.
What was your favourite subject at CIS and was it related to anything you actually ended up doing?
My favorite subject in CIS was Geography. I enjoyed learning about the environment on topics from the weather, plate tectonics, erosion, pollution and deforestation to population growth and urbanization. I find the environment and health are interrelated.
Please write down the first answer to pop into your mind:
- What is your favourite movie/production? Good Will Hunting
- What’s one thing you could not live without? My Phone
- What skill would you like to master? Cooking
- What do you like to do in your free time? Horse riding, field hockey, tennis, reading, playing the piano and bass guitar, museums, volunteer work, making art, cooking, yoga, skiing, traveling, outdoor sports and activities.
- If you could have a one-hour conversation with anyone – historical or current – who would that be and why? Nelson Mandela – to discuss with him about his book “Long Walk to Freedom”.