Thomas S. Bakman, DC, FAFICC is the co-founder and president of Restoration Healthcare, Inc. — a Southern California-based integrative healthcare practice that’s on a mission to restore hope and optimize the body’s innate ability to heal from within through the compassionate delivery of functional medicine.
Dr. Bakman plays an integral role in helping lead our interdisciplinary team of healthcare and support professionals in codifying and implementing future-focused models of healthcare. In addition, he monitors our practice’s mission, vision, and core values; as well as crafts and plays a leadership role in executing short- and long-term goals and objectives that further our practice’s place in the lives of our patients and within the healthcare community itself.
Under Dr. Bakman’s and Dr. Raleigh’s leadership, Restoration Healthcare has grown exponentially since its founding. Today, the practice routinely attracts and treats patients seeking diagnosis and treatment of complex health-related issues.
A serial entrepreneur with multiple successful healthcare start-ups to his credit, Dr. Bakman believes in putting the best of functional medicine, physical therapy, integrative healthcare, athletic training, and chiropractic together for the benefit of the patient. A 1987 graduate of Southern California University (SCU) of Health Sciences’ Los Angeles College of Chiropractic, Dr. Bakman currently chairs SCU’s Board of Regents and remains on its post-graduate faculty.
Dr. Bakman was among the youngest in his class to complete his postgraduate education, licensed at the age of 25 as a chiropractor after completing studies in biology at the University California Irvine and graduating from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. Although his undergraduate work was completed within a pre-med curriculum, he saw the benefits of becoming a provider of great health care with a formal education as a chiropractor. He reasoned he could make the largest impact on his patients’ health by becoming medically integrated.
In 1992, this led to the creation of one of the first multi-disciplinary groups in California’s Central Valley. Dr. Bakman uncovered critical pathways that combined the best of medicine, physical therapy, athletic training and chiropractic. While attending an international conference of the North American Back Society, the young Dr. Bakman learned at only 10 percent of the time are examination tests positive for the surgical patient. As a result, he began to focus on what to look for the other 90 percent of the time. Dr. Bakman surmised that looking at the sub-clinical findings seemed to be best for the patient.
This approach lead to the creation of a multidisciplinary work injury program that returned a more “fit” person back to the work place. Dr. Bakman was fortunate to work with larger employers and observed a measurable difference that a team of specialties working together could produce for the injured and save resources.
Moving back to Southern California to start an orthopedic surgical practice, Dr. Bakman became part of a pioneering program that broke the fragmentation of the workers’ compensation system by creating a private medical provider network that united the worker, employer, and doctor via open communication through the Internet. In 2003, the initial client was averaging $10 million in losses for 4,000 employees. By 2007 the losses were reduced to a consistent $2 million with the same amount of payroll and less litigation.
Since 2004 Dr. Bakman has consulted for employers such as Southern California Edison, Loma Linda University, Warner Brothers Studios, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Disneyland resorts performing utilization review.
While operating his orthopedic surgical practice, Dr. Bakman met a physician that had specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation along with intervention pain management. He immediately recognized the capabilities and strengths of a physician who was an athlete and a coach before becoming a physician. This led to the creation of an orthopedic rehabilitation practice in Costa Mesa named FORMA.
Today, Dr. Bakman chairs the Board of Regents at Southern California University, which is among the nation’s leading institutions of higher education for those interested in practicing integrative healthcare and medicine. His responsibilities include participating in the conceptualization of — and leading a team that approves — the university’s Institutional Plan, as well as providing leadership in carrying out the university’s mission of educating students to become competent, caring, and successful integrative healthcare practitioners.
Currently, Dr. Bakman’s focus is to continue to utilize the best from all of the health care disciplines to allow someone’s health to be restored. He sees evidence-based Functional Medicine as an approach to identify the biochemical individuality, and then use that as a natural approach to return the body’s system back to a better balance. The goal is to fend off the chronic diseases.
He believes that for the orthopedic injury, there are usually two diagnoses that bring someone to the office. The first is the presenting diagnosis, the symptoms such as pain that might prevent someone from everyday activities in life or keeping them from their passion. Then an equally important diagnosis is a silent or hidden one that the patient is not usually aware of. This is the biomechanical fault or adaptation that allowed the presenting diagnosis to occur. The same is true with the biochemistry.”
Finally, Dr. Bakman is a big believer in giving back to the community. He remembers the advice from an early mentor: “Don’t miss the magic of giving while remaining anonymous.” He has been a Rotary Club member since 1988. With a good friend he started a non-profit in 2008 that fed the homeless in Orange County. It is now known as the “Chili-Van” that the Orange County Rescue Mission now operates.
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