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  • Writer's pictureAl Thompson


Dr. Conicello has had a lifelong passion to help people. It continues at the AGAPE Institute. Photo by Al Thompson

Chiropractic medicine has come a long way since 1966 when the American Medical Association called chiropractic an "unscientific cult" and boycotted it until losing an antitrust case in 1987.

A lot of the AMA's venom was generated by chiropractic's dismissal of the use of drugs and vaccines to treat illnesses.

Even with overwhelming evidence that vaccination is an effective public health intervention, many chiropractors raised significant disagreements over the subject.

Chiropractic received a lot of poor reviews and negative impacts of mainstream acceptance of its place in the medical community.

But in recent decades chiropractic care has grown in legitimacy and received greater acceptance among the conventional medical community and health plans in the United States.

A lot of that acceptance has come from shedding some of its extreme beliefs. Acceptance has also come from members of the mainstream medical community actually paying attention to what chiropractic had to offer. When they pay attention, mainstream doctors found chiropractic has quite a lot to offer the public.

“They just don’t know what we do,” said Dr. Stephen A. Conicello, DC, EMT-P, who owns the AGAPE Institute of Functional Healthcare in Coatesville, PA “Especially on the functional medicine side or the functional neurology side. It really helps for them to understand what our education is. A lot of them think what we learn is on the back of a Cracker Jack box and we went to school for six months.”

In a recent sit-down interview with Footballstories, Dr. Conicello talked about how much public perception and chiropractic care has changed over the years. He said messaging at the national level as well as one-on-one conversations with people are important.

“At least on my side, it's me kind of putting inroads to those (medical) doctors, letting them know...This is what we do, this is how we do it,” Dr. Conicello said. “Kind of breaking down the barriers. For a lot of them it is just pure ignorance.

“When you look at the amount of hours we went to school versus when they went to school, we actually over 500 more hours in diagnostics, in neurology, in osteology, believe it or not,” he continued. “We have more than 1200 hours of diagnostics than they do. That’s a big deal.”

In October 2019, the Tennessee Chiropractic Association shared a report about the World Health Organization stating it found chiropractic care in general is safe when employed skillfully and appropriately.

Chiropractic medicine has made many inroads with the American public. But the fight has been long and difficult. It still continues, even in court.

The Agape office has kept up with policies to protect patients and visitors safe from spreading COVID-19. Photo by Al Thompson

It's biggest win to date came after the Wilk v. American Medical Association decision. It was a federal antitrust suit brought against the American Medical Association (AMA) and 10 co-defendants by chiropractor Chester A. Wilk, DC, and four co-plaintiffs. It resulted in a ruling against the AMA (from Wikipedia).

“The courts told the American Medical Association that they can’t keep trying to destroy the profession,” Dr. Conicello said. “What you’re doing is completely illegal.”

Those battles continue today.

In a report dated January 29, 2021 on, A split Texas Supreme Court determined rules challenged by the Texas Medical Association describing the scope of the chiropractic practice are valid, reversing lower court rulings that the rules should be struck because they exceed statutory limitations. In other words, chiropractic won.

“Texas tried to ban chiropractic medicine also,” Dr. Conicello said, “We just won another major lawsuit case in the Texas Supreme Court. They need to stop. We're here to stay.”

Patients can get many treatments at the Agape Institute of Functional Health and Chiropractic including physical therapy to regain movement & reduce pain with Trigenics®. Photo by Al Thompson


For Dr. Stephen A. Conicello, the world has been an adventure since he was a kid. In high school.

Playing one sport wasn’t much of a challenge, so he played three (football, ice hockey and lacrosse). Playing all those sports apparently wasn't enough as Dr. Conicello decided to volunteer as a Fire Fighter for the Berwyn Fire Company Station 2 while he was still in high school.

Also, his personal and professional resume lists enough interests and accomplishments for five people, let alone one.

And it appears Dr. Conicello has had success in every adventure he has tried. He also knew what his calling was.

“I just thought that I’ve got to do something worthwhile, something to help people,” Dr. Conicello said. “I always knew I wanted to be a doctor or a fireman or something to help people get better.”

That journey started early and with a buddy who shared the same goals. Conicello and his friend Mike Donahue decided to volunteer. Donahue is currently a lieutenant in the fire department of Philadelphia.

Both started out as amateurs, but both went on to college. Conicello said he went for auto-engineering and cinematography, while Donahue enrolled for basic college courses. It didn't last long.

Conicello said he still loved being a volunteer fireman and took Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2, HAZMAT operation, EVOC (Emergency Vehicles Operation Course) with Donahue. But he was in college to become a filmmaker while Donahue was moving up the ranks early in the stages of the fire fighting business.

The bug to serve eventually caught up with him.

“There is definitely more I need to be doing with this,” Conicello said, referring to helping people. “As I dove in further at school into auto-engineering and cinematography I started to think that this isn’t what I want to be. It’s a very tough business all around. Just from the hours that you keep to connections you have to have. The film industry isn’t as not as wonderful as everyone thinks it is.

“I thought at that point, you know what? This is the time where I’m going to do something worthwhile,” He continued. “Me and Mike talked, he was like, ‘this college thing is just not for me (either).' We thought…’well we volunteer, why not think about being an EMT and see where that leads”

Mike Donahue (middle of story): Paramedic Michael Donohue (with hat), a close childhood friend of Dr. Conicello, was promoted to Lieutenant of the Philadelphia Fire Department on August 28, 2020. Photo from Philadelphia Fire Department.

Conicello said they got into EMT school in West Chester through the Good Fellowship Ambulance Corps (GFAC), located near the Chester County Hospital.

“We went through their EMT Course,” Conicello said. “And really enjoyed it…really, really enjoyed it. We liked it to the point where we decided to enroll in paramedic school,”

Conicello said the EMT school was only for three months, you take a state test and then a national test. Conicello said he and Mike went onto paramedic school at St. Joe's Hospital in Lancaster.

“It was the hardest paramedic school in the country,” Conicello said. “It was amazing. It started with about 350 guys and graduated 11.”

Dr. Conicello said the testing was challenging.

“It was nuts,” he said. “Passing a test was a grad of 90 out of a hundred. If you fail it, you get one chance to retake it and you have to score of 95. If you don't score a 95, you're out of the program.”

Dr. Conicello reports he made it through the first time. He said the course took 11 months. But now becoming a paramedic can take up to two years.

The Archbishop John Carroll (Radnor, PA) graduate said it was a natural progression that led him to become a Chiropractic Doctor. Donahue continued down the path to be a professional firefighter and paramedic.

“My mentor in para-medicine was the head ER doctor at Penn,” Dr. Conicello said. “We were very, very close friends. His name was Ed Dickinson and he was a medical doctor.

“Ed did the kind of evolution I did,” Dr. Conicello continued. “He decided to go to medical school versus chiropractic school. I talked to him about weighing the options. Ed said 'If I write a letter, I can get you into Penn Medical School.' He said he trusted me and knew my grades were excellent.”

Dr. Dickerson must have been a true friend as he pointed Conicello in what ended up to be the right direction.

“He saw that I was gravitating towards the 'natural' side, and said 'you should probably be looking into doing that.”

Dr. Conicello said started the process of making a decision to enter medical school or chiropractic medicine. Eventually he realized his inner voice was telling him he would be much happier as a chiropractor.

“I went to chiropractic school,” said Dr. Conicello, who enrolled at the highly respected Life University. “And right when I was finishing my internship at Life, I decided to switch schools.”

Dr. Conicello said he wanted to see what the differences were between Life University and another top school. He chose Sherman College of Chiropractic.

“I went to Sherman, and went to the tail end of my school and some of my internship,” Dr. Conicello said. “ And it was a really enjoyable experience. Life University was such a huge school, you were kind of a number. Sherman was small, more intimate and you got a lot more personalized instruction.”

You can be like Terrell Owens when you go to Agape Institute of Functional Health and Chiropractic and use the Hyperbaric really works. The chamber can help with healing for the following conditions and more: Brain Function * Strength & Endurance * Wound Healing * Wound Care & Reduced Swelling * Post-Concussion Syndrome * Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) relief * Spectrum disorders (Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Dyslexia, etc.) * Strengthen Heart & Lungs * Anti-Aging * Relieves Muscle Tension Stress & Stiffness * Carbon monoxide poisoning * Gangrene* Burns Photo by Al Thompson


According to his Wiki page, Daniel David (D.D.) Palmer was a Canadian American chiropractor who was the founder of chiropractic. Palmer was born in Port Perry, Ontario, but emigrated to the United States. He was an avid proponent of various forms of alternative medicine such as magnetic healing.

Palmer, who lived from 1845 to 1913, opposed anything he thought to be associated with mainstream medicine such as vaccination.

His son Bartlett Joshua Palmer (1881-1961) sort of took the chiropractic baton from his father.

B.J. Palmer ran his research clinics in Davenport, Iowa for 16 years and eventually became convinced that upper cervical spine was the key to health. He modified the Palmer School of Chiropractic curriculum to reflect his new ideas. Palmer advocated the use of the Neurocalometer and X-ray machines.

This was not a loving father-and-son relationship by any stretch.

In fact, B.J was accused of running over his legendary father with a car at a homecoming parade for the Palmer School of Chiropractic in Davenport in 1913. Weeks later, D.D. Palmer died in Los Angeles officially of typhoid. Many to this day believe his son killed him. It was never proven he had anything to do with this father's death.

Despite that horrible story, both are revered in chiropractic circles for their groundbreaking work in the field.

“I am definitely a fan of D.D. Palmer,” Dr. Conicello said with a smile. “And also P.J. Palmer. I am a huge fan of them.”

Dr. Conicello said he also took courses on chiropractic neurology which he said is now known as functional Neurology. “They changed terms a little bit,” he said. “I also do functional medicine which is actually called chiropractic internist.”

“It is basically functional medicine that got started back in the 60s/70s with Dr. Jack Kessinger (Dr. Jack Kessinger passed away October 21st, 2011). Dr. Jack Kessinger is actually one of the guys who saved my life after I got an auto-immune disease my first year in practice. It literally almost killed me.”

Dr. Conicello said the illness was a thyroid disorder. “It is where the body attacks the cells that make up your thyroid. If you don't have a thyroid, you die. Your thyroid runs all your hormones.”

He said he was building his new business when the disorder hit.

“I had four other (chiropractic) doctors working for me doing upper cervical work and some neurology work and out of the blue it flattens me,” Dr. Conicello said. “It was bad, really bad.”

He said his business stayed alive because he had so many doctors working for him. “Thank God for that because we wouldn’t have survived if I didn’t have those doctors there to help me out when I was really sick.”

Dr. Conicello said he went to medical doctors when he was first stricken.

“I tried, honestly,” He said. “I went that route first. I told them something is really wrong and they kept saying there was nothing wrong with me. They couldn’t see anything in my blood work.”

Dr, Conicello said the son of Dr. Jack Kessinger convinced him to see his dad for relief.

“Dr. Rob Kessinger – my friend and mentor in upper cervical kept telling me to see his dad,” He said. “His father was Dr. Jack Kessinger – the doctor who created functional medicine- which is all the rage right now. He's the one who figured out was was wrong with me and saved my life.”

If Dr. Conucello determines weight training will help get you back to being yourself, he's got that covered. Photo by Al Thompson

Dr. Conicello said his recovery totally came from chiropractic care.

“He stopped the auto-immune reaction through functional medicine, He got me back to normal with lab testing, supplements, stuff like that. Which is all part of chiropractic.”


Many medical doctors now admit how much their prescribing policies led to the opioid crisis going on in America today.

Chiropractic medicine does not prescribe pain medicine at all.

Dr. Conicello was asked how does the chiropractic world handle the one of the biggest “We told you so” comebacks in medical history?

Conicello it would be easy to gloat that they were right all along. That there were always methods to get around the use of narcotics when dealing with surgeries and other pain-related issues with patients.

Going tit-for-tat with the American Medical Association is not going to help anyone he admitted. It’s better to work together with the common goal of giving people relief.

“Exactly,” Conicello said. “One of my mentors used to say, 'don't be down on them, but be up on us.' Promote from within and promote what you do, how well we do it, and people will see it. If you start going after them and be angry with these people and dime them out, people won't see that as right.”

Dr. Conicello said people will start to distrust his practice if he grandstands about a big problem like opioid addiction.

"They will say, why is he doing this?” Dr. Conicello said. “But there is a way you need to be able to let people know that this is pretty bad.”

The technology was always there for medical doctors to prevent the use of narcotics, they just didn't use it. Laziness has been noted as a main cause for prescribing pain medicine so freely for so many years.

Dr. Conicello admits surgery will always be part of the medicine, regardless of chiropractic advances. How does he feel about the newest techniques being used to cut down on narcotics?

“If they can do that, definitely do that, absolutely yes” he said. “Simply because people don't realize that our amygdala is our addicting zone, our emotion center in the middle of the brain. There are so many things the brain can get addicted to. It can get addicted to food, to sugar, any chemical substance or gambling. We can get addicted to anything pretty easily.

“The amygdala is open to accepting all that,” Dr. Conicello continued. "It will drive it and rewire the brain. What we do on our end with functional neurology is we basically help to rewire or reset the amygdala. So it stops those addictions from happening.”


“The reason why I started Agape in the first place is...when I was doing the upper cervical, it was very good at what it did,” Dr. Conicello said. “The problem I was seeing was there were a good ten percent of people who weren't getting better...I wanted to know why they are not getting better.”

Dr. Conicello said he started using a lot of his functional neurology training in his functional medicine training, and started to integrate that, he saw dramatic improvement. “When I did that, I started seeing 100 percent almost,” he said.

One of his longtime patients, John Cirone of South Jersey offered high praise for Dr. Conicello.

“Dr Conicello and his team help you to become healthier without any drugs or medicine,” Cirone said. “His natural treatments are life-changing.”

Dr. Conicello said with his practice expanding and with newer chiropractic techniques so effective, he needed to branch out...literally.

“I realized I can't do all of this. I need to focus in on two things, basically” Dr. Conicello said. “At the time I had three other doctors working for me doing upper cervical at the Upper

Cervical Chiropractic Neurology Center. I basically talked to the doctors and said I can't do all of this, you are going to do part, I'm going to have to do part.”

Dr. Conicello said he made the split based on what areas of expertise they were working on. He said he still owned the Upper Cervical office, but the doctors still worked for him. That arrangement did not last long.

“Push came to shove, some of the doctors wanted their own office, things like that,” Dr. Conicello remembered. “I said you know what? I said let's just make a deal. They took over the offices and I kept doing the AGAPE work. I'll do functional medicine and neurology and I'll refer out the upper cervical stuff to them.”

Right now his business in Coatesville is growing. After the pandemic settles down, will there be another chapter in Dr. Conicello's life and career? Don't bet against it. *


Dr. Stephen Conicello Photo by Al Thompson


Dr. Stephen A. Conicello, DC, EMT-P possesses a breadth of knowledge, education, training and expertise, all of which allows him to uncover and address patient’s underlying health issues like few other doctors in the field. Dr. Conicello graduated from St. Joseph’s Hospital Paramedic Institute in 1997, Pre Medicine at Life University in Atlanta, GA, and completed his Doctorate of Chiropractic from Sherman College of Chiropractic in Spartanburg, SC in 2004.

He has extensive post-graduate education in Functional Internal Medicine, Clinical and Functional Neurology, Post Concussive (CTE) Therapy, Neurofeedback Therapy, Child Developmental Disorders (Spectrum Disorders), MyoNeural Therapeutic Medicine (Trigenics), Clinical and Functional Nutrition and Quantum Neurology. This additional training was done from 2000 through the present day, as he is always studying and continuing to build his knowledge in order to help more people with their health challenges.

Dr. Conicello practiced in the suburbs of Greenville, SC when he first graduated from Chiropractic school in 2004. In 2009, the Italian Medical Society asked him to participate in a groundbreaking research project with the top medical physicians in Italy involving Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease in Rome, Italy.

The research found astounding positive results, with up to 97% relief in symptomatology in both diseases. After the research was completed, Dr. Conicello returned to his home state of Pennsylvania and opened Upper Cervical Chiropractic Neurology Center in Downingtown, PA. In 2014, Agape Institute of Functional Healthcare was created as he completed his training in the field of Functional Internal Healthcare. His programs as Agape Institute help to uncover the underlying cause of his patient’s health issues.

In Dr. Conicello’s time off from work, he enjoys working out, kayaking, grilling, playing with his many nieces & nephews, and hanging out watching movies with his wife Michelle.

Agape Institute of Functional Health and Chiropractic

Highlands Corporate Center

735 Fox Chase, Suite 100

Coatesville, PA 19320

Phone: 484-593-0882

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