Bernie Bush, left, stands next to Kyndra Thomas in a treatment room at Heller Healthcare in Brunswick.

Much like his prized Hawaiian shirts, Bernie Bush is vibrant and full of life.

“This is one of the Christmas shirts,” he said smiling, pointing to the “Mele Kalikimaka” text on the sleeve.

Bush has fond memories of the island and his time there, serving with the Marine Air Corps in Kanehoe Bay, Hawaii, and later at Pearl Harbor.

But while he was living in a tropical paradise, the demands of his job started to take a toll on his body.

“It was 1992 and my back went out at work after moving some heavy office equipment,” he said. “I think it was brought on by 25 years of office work. I also think it had a lot to do with the poorly designed office equipment.”

“It’s amazing what high stress, repetitive motion or lack of motion, and ‘typical’ wear and tear on the body will do to the human spine. Everyone hears about arthritis and degenerative disc or joint disease, but once you see yours on x-ray or MRI, it can really shock people,” Dr. Heller said.

Through his studies of mindfulness, chiropractic treatments and a general upbeat attitude, Bush was able to move on with his life. Even though it wasn’t unbearable, his back pain would surface after yard work or long periods of sitting, so he sought out chiropractic adjustments during these flare ups back so many years ago.

“I would ice my back or wear a brace when I knew I would be doing something strenuous,” he said.

Bush continued this wellness approach after marrying his wife Linda and relocating to Glynn County. Together, they continued to explore options for living their best lives following their retirement from duty as civilian personnel management specialists.

One thing they did as a couple was to adopt a plant-based diet.

“We went started moving toward a healthier diet in 2013 or 2014. The book ‘Plant Strong’ by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his son, Rip Esselstyn, was really great and helpful,” he said. “Now, we eat organic, non-GMO diet.”

Bush also continued his wellness and chiropractic care, wearing his brace, and anticipating the pain, stiffness, and difficulty with doing the things he loved most.

Bush knew that his lack of mobility was an ongoing battle and started to do his research on options to combat issues at hand. His research lead him to explore stem cell therapy, which in turn led him to the office of Heller Healthcare, located in Brunswick.

Bush was drawn to Heller Healthcare’s integrative approach to regenerative medicine that combines a custom plan for each patient. In addition to chiropractic care, they offer various approaches to treating a wide-array of conditions such an anti-arthritis program, food allergy testing, medical massage, holistic pain management options, hormone optimization and even nutritional planning.

Heller’s Stem cell therapy program, in particular, has provided impressive results for countless patients.

Stem cells are the body’s main cells for repairing damaged tissue and reducing inflammation. They can divide and replenish cells damaged by disease, injury or normal wear.

When stem cells are injected into tissue or joints, they support the natural healing process by regenerating that tissue. Heller Healthcare uses Human Umbilical Cord Tissue (HUCT) stem cells, which are derived from the consented, donated umbilical cords from healthy mothers who birthed healthy babies. The amount of stem cells from a newborn’s umbilical cord are a million times greater in quantity and are thousands of times more potent than stem cells taken from an aged body. This also makes it a less-invasive treatment with fewer steps, since one’s own stem cells do not have to be harvested from the body.

Wanting to learn more about Heller Healthcare’s approach, Bush set up a one-on-one consultation with their office in January.

“When Bernie came in, I heard a few things that stuck out. Low back pain, pain that increases with activity as well as with sitting, lots of stiffness of the spine and muscles, and unable to do everything he wanted to physically without pain and discomfort. He was surprised to see the amount of arthritis in his low back,” Dr. Heller said. “Knowing that he is vegan and is very mindful of his thoughts, foods and environment led us to know that his program wouldn’t need to include any nutritional or hormonal testing.”

“We talked about it and I got into the program (starting) with the (chiropractic) adjustments. Then, I got the stem cell injections (just a few weeks later),” he said.

“One of the cool things about Bernie, is that he had been researching stem cell therapy for years before he met me. He’s read the research, the medical publications, and frankly he knew what to expect before I told him” Dr. Jen said with a laugh.

Heller’s stem cell program is multifaceted and includes a combination of modalities to enhance the overall treatment and support stem cell growth for maximum success.

Since receiving the stem cells at the beginning of the year, Bush has seen a big difference. He no longer has pain or stiffness and is able to maneuver easily.

“I was in the attic the other day helping some guys with the duct work for the air condition. I was climbing around the rafters. I was like a monkey,” he said, as he demonstrated his bob and weave maneuvers.

“I’m just glad to see him doing what he wants without limitations and not needing a back brace anymore. He’s an amazing patient. Everything I asked of him for his program, he did, and I’m very proud of his results. When looking at his x-ray measurements, he has gotten 1/2 inch back,” said Heller.

“He may not be 8 feet tall yet, but we are still working on it” Dr. Jen added jokingly.

Overall, Bush feels that the stem cells coupled with Heller’s care and his dedication to a healthy lifestyle has helped him realize his best life.

“I just want to live healthy … if you’re not healthy, you’re not living well,” he said.

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