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Minn. Doctor Joins Team Italy In 20th FIFA World Cup

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The 20th Fifa World Cup will begin June 12 in Brazil, and a Minnesota man will get a chance to live his dream.

Dr. John Pietila is a chiropractor in Burnsville, Minn. In June, he'll be going to the World Cup as part of Team Italy.

How he ended up as Team Italia's team chiropractor is all based on the unique type of work that he does.

"It's not like we work on your knee, we work on your brain. And then your brain is going to control your whole body. So that will take care of all your problems," Pietila said.

It's called "Functional Neurology."

Pietila, better known as "Dr. J" to his clients, specializes in certain adjustments that stimulate the brain, which in turn, helps with body balance.

Professional athletes with concussions have become a specialty. That includes former Twin Corey Koskie.

"By the end of the sixth treatment I remember him coming in and saying, 'I just golfed 18 holes and this is unbelievable,'" Pietila said.

A few years ago, Pietila was in Amsterdam for an injury prevention seminar. A head Italian doctor was there and was intrigued by his work. He eventually asked Pietila and his wife to move to Florence and help with Team Fiorentina.

It went so well, they brought him back for the Confederation Cup last year.

"That was a huge success. Hardly any injuries. The players were playing unbelievable. Everyone was on the field for every game feeling good," Pietila said.

That was all the convincing the Italians needed. They asked him to be a part of their World Cup run in Brazil. He gave them a one-word response.

"Yes! It's kind of a once in a lifetime experience. To be down on the field with the team during the game, it's unbelievable," Pietila said.

While almost unbelievable to Pietila, it was not a surprise to his clients, like junior hockey player Dillion Eichstadt.

Eichstadt has had concussions but said he's getting better thanks to Pietila. He drives four hours from Bemidji, Minn. to get treatment.

"I would absolutely recommend him to anything that has to do with back or neck or head problems. I would absolutely recommend him," Eichstadt said.

In some ways Pietila will be in the spotlight as much as the players. His goal is to give Italy every possible chance to score.

"I'm pretty excited. I'm pretty optimistic about this," Pietila said.

Pietila's office in Burnsville is averaging 29 new patients a month. The average for most chiropractors is 3 to 5 a month.

Pietila will leave for Italy May 18, and will then travel with the team to Brazil for the World Cup in June.

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