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1 History of Osteopathy


Brandon Lakomowski


Comp 101




2 On August 6, 1828 the founder of osteopathy, Andrew Taylor Still was born. Andrew


Taylor Still was influenced by his parents towards a great deal of religion and spirituality with a


god while growing up. He held a belief that god created all things perfectly and the human body


has the ability to heal itself with what the human body had been given. Andrew Taylor Still had


always shown a strong opinion on many topics but especially took an interest in the anatomy of


the human body; even more so Still was intrigued by the nervous system. In the mid 1800?s there


was little to be known on the causes of disease and those practicing medicine were often not


experienced; the remedies that were practiced were often times more dangerous than the illness


itself! Some typical procedures during the 1850?s include laxatives, purgatives, bloodletting and


calomel. Andrew Taylor Still knew that there were more safe and effective treatments so he


focused an importance on the musculoskeletal system. He thought that the body could heal itself


with proper circulation of blood and proper mental impulse through nervous tissue. On June 22nd


1874 osteopathy was born. (Giovanna, Schiowitz, Dowling, 2005).


Andrew Taylor Still had something special and he knew it. The community as well as


Still?s family members questioned Still's philosophy towards health. Still's philosophy, being that


by applying manipulative forces to the joints he could relieve nerve irritation and help the body


restore its health. Those practicing medicine were not accepting to what Still was doing with this


new medical treatment and many times was called out to be a quack or a fake. Whether people


?believed? Still?s new health care approach was fake or not the positive results of his patients


willing to try his methods seemed to be enough poof for many. Still's manipulative treatments


showed a great amount of results very rapidly and osteopathy grew much bigger. After continued


failed attempts to implement osteopathic classes into curriculum at colleges in Kansas, the first RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY


3 college of osteopathy was started in Missouri in 1892. (American Osteopathic Association,


2006). For many years following the large growth of osteopathy, osteopathic physicians fought


for the right to be in the same hospitals as medical doctors so they could have similar insurance


policies as medical doctors, the same stigma, and overall be the same respected figure as the


medical doctors. In a 1950 court decision doctors of osteopathy were granted the right to


prescribe medicine in Missouri. Twenty three years later all fifty states held full practice rights


which included the ability to prescribe medicine and perform surgery.


After osteopathy?s growth in previous years Still decided it was time to teach others his


manipulative treatments. Mostly he trained his children and a handful of others to help him


maintain his patients. (A.T. Still University, 2010). Eventually there were enough people who


wanted to learn Still?s treatments and persuaded him to open The American School of


Osteopathy, a two room building in Kirksville, Missouri. The first graduating class consisted of


sixteen men and five women who graduated two years later in 1894. The school became a large


success for Still, it was estimated on any given day around four hundred people would come to


be treated in Kirksville.


In 1874 the philosophy of osteopathy was thriving and distinct from any other


professions. The philosophy held true that where there is organization, there is life; as well as


where there is motion, there is life. (The Cranial Academy, 2005). Deduced from these general


statements are four basic principles which give understanding to osteopathy. The first of the four


principles states that structure is interrelated with function. As stated before motion is life


therefore when motion is hindered by obstructions in the body, the body cannot express its


maximum health potential. The second principle of osteopathy states that the human body is one


functioning unit, so the osteopathic practitioner must take a holistic approach and look at the RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY


4 body as one complete unit. The third principle may be the most important to osteopathic


philosophy which states that the body is always working to keep itself in a homeostatic range,


which is the optimum level for that individual to stay alive. When the body stops adapting or is


not able to adapt with its full potential, declined health may occur. The fourth and final principle


of osteopathy states that treatment occurs when applying these principles.


In 1973 osteopaths sold themselves and their principles to gain the respect of medical


doctors. Their manipulative treatments had proven themselves beneficial and effective as a


profession but osteopathic practitioners did not want to be looked at as any less than the typical


medical physician, so they gave away their profession to become equal with a large accepted


profession. After 1973 you couldn?t depict a medical doctor from an osteopathic doctor because


they were given all the same legal rights to treat patients as a primary health care provider, the


only difference are the initials behind the name and a slightly different curriculum through their


college training. A similar health care profession was founded in 1895 by D. D. Palmer. This


profession has some similarities but many differences to osteopathy, the main similarity to


mention is the third osteopathic principle which describes the body?s ability to express itself with


proper mental impulse. Chiropractic and osteopathy both work to restore mental impulse from


the central nervous system into the periphery allowing the body to express health. The main


difference to mention is chiropractic?s objective, rather than manipulating the spinal column to


restore proper structure, D.D. Palmer introduced specific, short-lever vertebral adjustment to


restore the transmission of mental impulses. (Strang, 1984, p. 11-12). "Those who cannot


remember the past are condemned to repeat it."1 A quote that perfectly describes chiropractic?s


situation as a profession in history, just as osteopaths sold themselves to the medical doctors by


abandoning their principles, many D.C.?s in history have abandoned their principles to gain RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY


5 acceptance from the medical community just at osteopaths once did. Those who abandon their


principles for respect have provided much work for present day workers in that profession to


keep it alive and distinct from all other professions. Many great men and women have worked


and dedicated their lives to making both osteopathy and chiropractic possible health care options


to the public in our history. RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY


6 References


1 George Santayana, The Life of Reason or The Phases of Human Progress: Reason in Common Sense 284 (2nd ed., Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, New York 1924


American Osteopathic Association (2006). Important Dates in Osteopathic History. .


E. Giovanna, S. Schiowitz, D. Dowling, (2005). An Osteopathic Approach to Diagnosis and


Treatment. 3rd ed. Pennsylvania: Lippencott Williams & Wilkins.


Strang, V. V. (1984). The Purpose of Chiropractic Philosophy. In Essential


Chiropractic. (pp. 10-15). Davenport, Iowa: Virgil V. Strang. Principles of


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