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RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY
1 History of Osteopathy
Kimera Smith RUNNING HEAD: HISTORY OF OSTEOPATHY
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
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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