On this day (September 18th) 119 years ago, DD Palmer delievered the first chiropractic adjustment to a man named Harvey Lillard. Harvey was a deaf janitor working in the same building as Palmer. He had lost his hearing years earlier after stopping and feeling a pop in his upper back. Palmer examined Harvery and found a misalignment in his spine. He decided to manipulate the misalignment, adjusting the spine. Soon after, Harvey’s hearing was restored and the chiropractic profession was born. Palmer thought that he had discovered the cure for deafness. He realized that this was not the case, however began seeing his patients’ overall health and well-being improve signifcantly. Today, chiropractic is the second largest non medical healing profession in North America.
In honour of chiropractic’s birthday we thought we’d share two blog posts with you, both describing the history of chiropractic.
The History of Chiropractic
“Palmers earlier descriptions and underlying philosophy of chiropractic was very similar to that of Andre Still’s principles of osteopathy which had been established a decade earlier. Both men described what they believed to be our bodies were like machines that when parts were manipulated it could produce healing or a drugless cure. Further they both professed that when spinal manipulation was used on joint dysfunction/subluxation it improved our overall health. Palmer however noted that he was the first to use short-lever HVLA manipulative techniques, which uses the Spinous Process and Transverse Process as mechanical levers. A clear distinction between the two however was that Palmer described the effects of chiropractic spinal manipulation as mediated to the nervous system whereas osteopathy believed it was attributed to the supremacy of the circulatory system.
The word “Chiropractic” was chosen by a friend and patient of D. D. Palmer, Rev. Samuel Weed. He had been asked to helped Palmer come up with a name for this new discovery. He suggested that the words cheiros and praktikos (meaning “done by hand”) was best to describe the treatment method, which created the term “chiropractic”.
The History of Chiropractic Care and Mental Illness
The 1920s marked a period of great optimism in the field of chiropractic. Chiropractic schools were prospering and students, confident in their field of study, became eager to challenge conventional approaches to medicine. When it came to mental health and chiropractic one student in particular, Gerard Martin Pothoff (1889-1937), stood out above the rest. Dr. Pothoff was said to have experienced a series of “cures with severely ill mental patients under chiropractic care” (Quigley, 69). This convinced Pothoff that spinal adjustments could offer far more than medical treatments for psychiatric disorders, and inspired him to open a hospital facility where patients could be confined and treated. In 1922, Pothoff opened the first exclusive chiropractic psychiatric hospital, known as the Forest Park Sanitarium. Almost immediately, chiropractors from all over the country began referring psychiatric patients to Forest Park. As the patient population expanded, so did the amount of chiropractic doctors working at the sanitarium. Many of the doctors were faculty members from Palmer School of Chiropractic.
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Happy Birthday Chiropractic!