What is the History of Chiropractic Care?
According to the American Chiropractic Association, "The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’), i.e. Done by Hand." But how did it become one of the leading non-invasive forms of neck and back pain relief that it is today? Here, we will explore the origins of chiropractic as a practice, how it developed, and give a brief historical background of its founder, Daniel David Palmer.
The fascinating journey of chiropractic care traces back thousands of years. In ancient times, healers across cultures displayed an early understanding of chiropractic concepts. Hippocrates, often referred to as the Father of Modern Medicine, believed in the spine’s essential importance, stating, “Look well to the spine for the cause of disease.” While Hippocrates' ideas are widely known and documented, evidence shows even earlier instances of chiropractic principles in ancient Egyptian and Chinese societies. These early insights collectively laid the groundwork for our present understanding of modern chiropractic care.
The Start of Modern Chiropractic
In the summer of 1895, Daniel Palmer, who was a practitioner of “magnetic healing,” ran into the building's janitor, Harvey Lillard, on his way to the office. Palmer noticed a visible bump on Lillard's back and inquired about it. Lillard explained that he had experienced a painful pop in his back while working, which he believed to be a slipped disc, and this incident had led to hearing difficulties. Taking action, Daniel Palmer performed the very first chiropractic adjustment on Lillard, successfully realigning his spine. As a result, Lillard claimed a noticeable improvement in his hearing, marking the birth of chiropractic care.
Who is Daniel David Palmer?
Daniel Palmer was born in 1845 in Ontario, Canada. After emigrating to the US as a young adult, he held many jobs, including teacher, beekeeper, and grocery store owner. Before chiropractic care, he was a practitioner of what was known as “magnetic healing,” where magnetic fields around a patient’s body were manipulated to heal ailments. Throughout his life, he believed in various health philosophies and tried to blend the scientific method with concepts of metaphysics.
He saw that physical manipulation had been used for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, but no one scientifically or philosophically looked at what was being done to make sense of it all. He then began to study these ways through anatomy and physiology, ultimately developing the philosophy, art, and science we call Chiropractic today.
Founding The Palmer School of Chiropractic
Following his success in restoring Lillard's hearing through spinal alignment, Palmer dedicated himself to unraveling the science behind this healing approach. In 1897, Palmer formed the Palmer School of Cure to share his knowledge and teach others about chiropractic care. People were fascinated with this innovative healing art Palmer was practicing and wanted to learn about it. Palmer’s son, B.J. Palmer, is credited for much of the development of this healing practice and eventually took over the school in 1906.
The institution still exists today and is called the Palmer College of Chiropractic. Located in Davenport, Iowa, it stands proud as the trusted leader in chiropractic, the first chiropractic college, and continues to have the highest enrollment amongst other chiropractic colleges. Many skillful and talented chiropractors have studied at this institution, including Dr. Steve Petrak.
Palmer Method of Chiropractic
The Palmer method is named after Daniel Palmer and involves combining several different techniques for more efficient healing:
Chiropractic Care Today
In 1913, the first state law licensing chiropractors was passed in Kansas. By 1931, chiropractic was legally recognized in 39 states. Today, the practice is recognized in all 50 states and even internationally in places like Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, Australia, Japan, and Switzerland. In 1996, the National Institute for Health began funding chiropractic research and has since become a more renowned profession. As chiropractic care evolves, spinal manipulation remains at its core. Today's chiropractors have embraced various practice styles, incorporating diverse therapies and techniques to cater to their patients' requirements. They follow a holistic healthcare approach that typically avoids the use of medication or surgical interventions.
Palmer left a monumental mark on the medical world. With over 70,000 licensed chiropractors, his legacy carries on as they provide assistance to the approximately 30 million people worldwide who seek chiropractic care annually.
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