The Growth Of Chiropractic

Over the decades since D. D. Palmer gave Harvey Lillard the series of adjustments which cured Lillard’s deafness, chiropractic has flourished like the green bay tree. Some of this growth was almost frightening in its vigor and sometimes too rapid to be orderly. It took quite a while for chiropractic to really grow up, develop a sound body of knowledge and skill, establish rigorous professional standards and a code of ethics for its practitioners, and gain the public confidence and respect it now enjoys.

These growing pains are nothing unusual; in fact, they have occurred in the maturing of all the arts and sciences, including medicine. Before reviewing chiropractic’s earlier trials and tribulations, it might be enlightening to make a few comparisons with medicine. Only the bigoted medical doctor with an over exalted opinion of his own infallibility could take offense at them.

One of the most famous of our early medical doctors was a man named Benjamin Rush. A person of many talents, the good Dr. Rush was a member of the original Constitutional Assembly at the time the Declaration of Independence was being considered. A great believer in human rights—in particular the right of free choice-he warned against a possible medical monopoly of healing in these words, “To restrict the art of healing to one class of men and deny equal privileges to others will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic.”

Dr. Rush believed in heroic methods of treatment. His favorite concoction, which he employed in a multitude of ills, was so powerful that it was known as “Rush’s Thunderbolt.” Composed of ten grains of jalop and ten of calomel it was taken in. one dose, and if the patient survived its impact, his recovery was assured. Medical atom bombs like this were common in those lusty days.

Medicine was a disorganized free-for-all, or very nearly so, at about the time D. D. Palmer discovered chiropractic, and it continued in that state for some time afterward. Since the average medical doctor is very likely to belittle D. D. Palmer as “an ignorant fish peddler” and chiropractic as unscientific, let’s look at a few facts about the status of the medical profession not so long ago.

In Palmer’s day a peddler and horse trader named john D. Rockefeller could and did double as a traveling “medicine man” without fear of arrest or punishment. Men who called themselves doctors of medicine peddled “sure cures” for everything from piles to women’s diseases. Medical doctors—including an early head of the American Medical Association—saw nothing unethical in advertising their skills in the news-papers.

Medical doctors of today stress the high standards of their education, yet as recently as 1908, the medical education situation in this country was so scandalous that the Carnegie Foundation retained Dr. Abraham Flexner, an educator and not a medical man, to make a special study of the profession. In due time Dr. Flexner reported that “of the 155 medical schools in existence, the schools were essentially private ventures, money-making in spirit and object . . . Income was simply divided among the lecturers who reaped a rich harvest . . . No applicant for instruction who could pay his fee or sign his note was turned down .. . The man who settled his tuition bill was practically assured of a degree, whether he had regularly attended lectures or not.” It was not until considerably after World War I that reforms in medical education recommended by Flexner were generally put into effect. Many a highly respected and competent medical doctor in practice today received only a sketchy formal education; he is a good doctor only because he continued studying after his graduation from the so-called medical school, and not because of the training he received there.

Many of the same conditions prevailed in the early days of chiropractic, and chiropractors themselves are the first to admit this. Despite his founding of chiropractic and the immense contributions he made to the later development of the science, D. D. Palmer himself often acted in accordance with the chaotic standards of the day.

Those were the days when medical men frequently kept their pet discoveries “secret” and capitalized on them for all they were worth. Sometimes groups of specialists like the “bone setters” formed exclusive guilds and pooled their knowledge, which they guarded jealously, not even allowing their patients to observe what they were doing.

Fully aware of the revolutionary nature of his new method of healing, D. D. Palmer tried at first to do about the same thing. He sought to keep chiropractic a family secret, or to share it, at best, with only a chosen few who would be willing to pay him well for his knowledge.

Practically everything that ultimately became part of chiropractic had to be learned from scratch. For ex-ample, Palmer’s amazing deduction of the connection between the nervous system and general health was scarcely suspected at the time, and medical men re-fused to admit that spinal subluxations even existed. To this day, some die-hards of organized medicine still refuse to do so. Nevertheless, knowledge accumulated so rapidly that D. D. Palmer soon realized that chiropractic could not be kept secret for long, and that if it were to achieve the dignity of a science, it must be taught thoroughly and by reputable institutions. Only two years after his discovery, in 1897, he founded the first chiropractic school, The Palmer School of Chiropractic, in Davenport. Today it is the largest chiropractic institution in the world. But records show that The Palmer School had only one pupil in 1898, three .in 1899, two in 1900, and four in 1902. In 1903, enrollment had jumped to more than a dozen, although the chiropractic course lasted for six months.

Early adjustment tables were crude devices. The addition of a nose aperture and padding, the dividing of the table into several sections that could be raised or lowered independently of each other were the beginning of many improvements. It took years, too, to improve the thrust so that it could be delivered with absolute accuracy and delicacy, with full assurance that there would be no injury to the patient and little, if any, pain. Enthusiastic adoption by chiropractors of the X-ray and other delicate methods for accurately locating and defining subluxations, plus a growing body of knowledge about the spine and nervous system, gradually eliminated the earlier crude methods and evolved chiropractic into the complex and precise science it is today.

In every art and science there are a few giants, sizable group who may contribute little that is original but who are sincere, hard workers, and finally a fringe of “crackpots.” Chiropractic has been no exception. D. D. Palmer was a giant, but he was impractical. His son Bartlett Joshua Palmer, born in What Cheer, Iowa, in 1881, and fourteen-years-old when chiropractic was discovered, was also a giant, but a very practical one indeed. Chiropractors generally hold that while D. D. was the “Discoverer of Chiropractic,” his son B. J. deserves recognition as the “Developer of Chiropractic.”

Like his father, B. J. was largely self-educated. He developed an early interest in the science started by his father. He was one of the four students in The Palmer School of Chiropractic’s Class of 1902 and he was one of its earliest graduates.

In ” 1906, the professional school founded by his father passed into the son’s hands, and he, with his bride, Doctor Mabel Heath Palmer, purchased property and began to expand the facilities of the school.

Under B. J., The Palmer School grew and prospered phenomenally. By 1915–two years after the death of Palmer, Sr.—enrollment had exceeded 800. World War I reduced enrollments somewhat, but in 1918, the first year of peace, the school had 1,882 students. As early as 1910, the school had acquired an X-ray machine. Like the other reputable schools that had al-ready replaced the fly-by-night variety, its curriculum required twelve months of full-time attendance. Among the subjects taught even then were anatomy, physiology, symptomatology, pathology and diagnosis, toxicology, obstetrics, dissection, and the science and philosophy of chiropractic. These are named in detail because of the attempts frequently made by certain medical doctors to disparage chiropractors as poorly educated.

Almost all the pioneer chiropractors were, in a sense, fanatics. Many became chiropractors for the simple reason that they had benefited from chiropractic first hand-often after medicine failed—and they wanted to give others the benefit they themselves had received. They didn’t give a hoot whether chiropractic was scorned by the medical fraternity or not, whether it was approved or even heard of by the general public or not. They came from all walks of life, for sickness is no respector of position. Generally, however, they were not “professional persons” when they went into chiropractic; for, human nature being what it is, such well-established individuals are usually inclined to give thought to their own comfortable careers and act accordingly. They are content with becoming boosters rather than active doers. Even in religion, the prominent convert seldom becomes a missionary.

However, as chiropractic gained in respectability and numbers of patients, while its educational requirements increased in stringency, this situation rapidly improved. By 1920, when chiropractic was only twenty-five years old, the roster of The Palmer School, then numbering 2,000 students, boasted many persons with previous professional backgrounds, including 102 school teachers, 12 ministers, 16 school superintendents, 14 editors and other journalists, 45 musicians, 24 pharmacists, 11 chemists, 7 dentists, 26 Army and Navy officers, 51 nurses, 165 students who had transferred from other schools of various sorts, and an assortment of artists, engineers, physical-training instructors, and stenographers. There were even a few osteopaths, veterinary surgeons, and medical doctors. Thirty foreign nations were represented.

Meanwhile, other chiropractic schools of integrity were rapidly coming into existence. Typical of these was Carver Chiropractic College of Oklahoma City, which was founded in 1906 and which grew to become the second largest institution of its kind in the nation. Carver started with a six-months’ course, about all that was necessary at the time, but increased it to nine months two years later. Shortly afterward the school jumped the length of the course to eighteen months, and as early as 1927, was presenting a course of twenty months. Today the school requires four years of resident class instruction totalling more than 4000 hours. This extension of instruction time has been paralleled in all the reputable chiropractic schools.

Meanwhile, other developments in various fields were underway, all of them strong indications that chiropractic was growing up. In many of them B.J. Palmer pioneered personally. He was one of the earliest and most prolific writers on the new science; by 1910 he had authored five books on the subject. In that same year he started a chiropractic magazine which was the parent of the present monthly journal The Chiropractor. He was one of the founders and for a time secretary-treasurer of the first chiropractic organization, The Universal Chiropractic Association. He was responsible for the wide-spread adoption of the word “adjustment” in preference to “treatment” to describe what the chiropractor does. And these are only a few of his many innovations and activities.

Dr. B.J. Palmer was probably the most colorful and controversial personality in chiropractic. He traveled extensively to promote the new science, and fought many courageous battles in debate and in court against the determined opposition of organized medicine. He had the gift of delegating responsibility to subordinates he could trust and he utilized this gift superlatively. And he became powerful in many fields other than chiropractic. He headed a number of businesses and enterprises of various sorts, and owned the first radio station west of the Mississippi, licensing it only three months after the first station in the United States received its license in 1922.

At the time of his death, Dr. Palmer was president of the Tri-City Broadcasting Company of Davenport, Iowa, the Central Broadcasting Company of Des Moines, The Palmer School of Chiropractic and the International Chiropractors Association. He was a recipient of the Du Pont Memorial Award for achievement in communications.

On world tours with his wife and son, David, Dr. Palmer purchased many oriental artifacts and many rare curios that are displayed at the school museum at Davenport. He built up the world’s largest collection of human bones comprising more than 20,000 specimens and valued at more than $175,000.

Upon the death of B. J. Palmer in May 1961, his son, Dr. David D. Palmer, accepted the challenge and responsibility of helping chiropractic advance to its rightful position among the healing arts.

This third-generation chiropractic leader, born in 1906, has qualified himself by his sincere interest in chiropractic and his splendid educational background at The Palmer School of Chiropractic, University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard University.

The presidents of twelve chiropractic colleges and the heads of the two national chiropractic associations attended the investiture of Dr. David as president of The Palmer College of Chiropractic on August 20, 1961. Several thousand chiropractors from all over the world attended the ceremonies.

Another giant of chiropractic was Willard Carver who made important contributions relative to the mechanical behavior of the spinal column, body mechanics, and posture.

Dr. Willard Carver was born on July 14, 1876, in a small house located about forty rods from Carver Tavern near the junction of Allen’s Grove and Maysville Roads, about twelve miles from Davenport, Iowa. When he was two, his family moved to Mahasha County, Iowa, where they resided until the death of Carver’s father in 1901. Carver was educated at the Christian College of Oskaloosa, Iowa. He later finished his scientific and literary training at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, where he earned his Bachelor of Laws degree.

Willard Carver practiced law for fourteen years thereafter and specialized in negligence work. This led him to study anatomy and physiology which he found to be of assistance in his frequent appearances in court in negligence cases.

In December, 1895, while sitting in his law office in Ochewydan, Iowa, he received a letter from his old friend D. D. Palmer describing his experiment upon Harvey Lillard. During the ensuing years, Carver, still practicing his profession as a lawyer, became very much interested in Palmer’s new science and began to formulate his own theories about the science of chiropractic.

Dr. Carver studied chiropractic both with D. D. Palmer and Dr. Charles Ray Parker, who, at that time was running the Parker School at Ottumwa, Iowa. Although there were a number of schools of chiropractic functioning in the early 1900′s, Dr. Willard Carver and one L. L. Denny organized a college of chiropractic in Oklahoma City in 1906.

Dr. Carver’s contributions to the development of chiropractic are outstanding and widely known—the most important of these were the distortion by compensation studies in which he evaluated the mechanical behavior of the spine and pelvis under all normal and abnormal conditions. From his original studies, which have been substantiated many times over in later years, Carver became convinced that not only spinal subluxations but also distortions of any and all bodily structures create an environment favorable to the development of disease. Certain that man’s effort to overcome the constant pull of gravity is in itself responsible for many distortions, he became one of the pioneer advocates of correct posture, which might be called “preventive chiropractic.” From his original observations of minute postural and structural faults, largely stemmed the present-day detailed system of chiropractic analysis.

D. D. Palmer, B. J. Palmer, and Willard Carver are often termed the “Trinity of Giants.” However, there were other pioneers in chiropractic, men and women who made important contributions to the advancement of the profession.

Here are but a few of these courageous people who have passed away in recent years. Dr. W. A. Budden, President of the Western States College of Chiropractic, who was noted for his splendid work as chairman of the Council on Education of the National Chiropractic Association. He helped raise educational standards and improve chiropractic colleges. Dr. Frank E. Dean, Founder of the Columbia Institute of Chiropractic—a natural-born student and scholar, he conceived of the idea of a chiropractic college which would combine all of the facets of higher education in its curriculum. Dr. Craig M. Kightlinger, Founder and President of the Eastern Chiropractic Institute and President of the Chiropractic Institute of New York

“Kight”, as he was affectionately known, was famous for his great enthusiasm for chiropractic and his ability to teach adjusting procedures. Dr. Hugh B. Logan, Founder of the Logan Basic College of Chiropractic—who researched new techniques in straightening distorted spines. He was probably the one most responsible for the widespread use of the 14 x 36 X-ray film, which revealed the full spinal column with a single exposure. He demonstrated that chiropractors could successfully straighten distorted spines. Since 1944, his work had been carried on vigorously by his son, Dr. Vinton F. Logan, whose recent demise is a great loss to the profession. Dr. William C. Schulze, President of the National College of Chiropractic-a medical doctor who discontinued medical practice to devote his full time to chiropractic education and the introduction of a broad view to chiropractic practice. Dr. L. j. Steinbach, President of the Universal Chiropractic College—whose great interest in chiropractic technique led to the development of the vertical X-ray and the origination of the spinal-balance method of examination and adjusting.

Those interested in the history of chiropractic would also recognize the names of countless other people who have played important roles in chiropractic progress.

It is not surprising that these pioneers often quarreled bitterly and could not agree on many points; such quarrels are the rule, and not the exception, in any complex and evolving art or science. Nevertheless, they all agreed on the basic principles of chiropractic—that it is a science and an art of healing which deals with the relationship between structure and function in the human body, particularly the muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems in the restoration and maintenance of health.

As in other professions, there are different ideas as to how this may best be accomplished. Therefore, it is not strange to see chiropractic practice vary from a limited to a broad approach. Although all chiropractors use spinal adjustments as their modus operandi, there is one group of chiropractors who restrict themselves to spinal adjustments only. Some are so specialized that they deal primarily with the two topmost cervical vertebrae, the atlas and the axis, which comprise the assembly supporting the skull. On the other hand, there is a large group of doctors of chiropractic, who not only make corrections in the spinal column, but also, when indicated, in any of the three-hundred articulations of the body. Many doctors of chiropractic use certain drugless adjuncts in addition to specific adjustments. These supplemental aids include the application of heat and cold, electricity, water, diet, exercise and other rehabilitation procedures.

Despite this divergence on details, all chiropractors adhere rigidly to the premise that spinal adjustments are of greatest benefit and base their handling of any case on such manipulative procedures.

It is not surprising, in light of the above, that there is a variety of techniques of spinal adjustment that has evolved gradually over the years. Generally, there are heavy techniques or light techniques which are used, depending upon the patient and the problem presented. But it is the adjustment for the purpose of removing nerve interference to which chiropractic attributes its extraordinary results.

There is also other evidence that chiropractic is now a mature science. One of the most important factors is the present failure to claim that chiropractic cures anything and everything. Some of the early chiropractors made just this claim in their excessive enthusiasm, but as the profession gained in knowledge, experience, and educational requirements, its practitioners have become appropriately precise and accurate in putting forth the benefits of their healing arts.

The educational standards for chiropractic first promulgatedby the Palmers and a few other contemporary pioneers, have steadily been increased in scope and quality. Today, there are some eighteen chiropractic colleges in the United States, with a total student capacity in excess of 7,000. The accredited standard of education today is a four-year resident course of 4,040 hours of study. This, by the way, compares favorably with the hours required by the famed Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Obviously, the approved chiropractic course does not include many subjects taught in medical schools, such as pharmacology, medicine, surgery, and therapeutics. On the other hand, it includes 1,580 hours of purely chiropractic subjects that are not taught in medical schools, in addition to the “basic sciences” that are required of practitioners of both healing arts.

Among the subjects now included in the chiropractic as well as in the medical education are anatomy, chemistry, physiology, pathology and bacteriology, diagnosis and symptomatology. The “minimum course” recommended includes psychology, endocrinology, dermatology, dietetics, pediatrics, gynecology, kinesiology, and obstetrics. In many states, in order to be licensed, chiropractors must pass the same “basic sciences” examination as medical doctors. In addition, they must pass an examination covering their exclusively chiropractic subjects.

The first state law governing chiropractic was passed in Kansas in 1913. Since then, as previously indicated, all but four states of the United States have passed chiropractic practice acts, and it is probable that these four will follow the example of the others in the not too distant future. Also as previously indicated, chiropractic has been recognized by legislative action in numerous foreign countries.

Like medical practice acts, chiropractic practiceacts exist for the protection of the public. Among their several objectives are defining the science of chiropractic and describing what services the chiropractor is legally permitted to perform, establishing educational requirements for chiropractors and providing for the examination of’ candidates for the chiropractic license, granting licenses to chiropractors who have successfully passed such examinations which include requirements of character and ethics, and providing for the penalization of chiropractors who fail to comply with the provisions of the chiropractic legislation. Penalties may range from censure and suspension through revocation of license, to fine and/or imprisonment.

Of the states that regulate chiropractic, all require at least a high school education as a preliminary requisite to chiropractic education. Many states require chiropractors to have at least two years of liberal-arts college in addition to high school.

All but two of the states regulating chiropractic re-quire that the candidate for a chiropractic license successfully complete a four-year chiropractic course.

Similar requirements prevail in foreign countries. In Canada, six of the seven provinces regulating chiropractic require a junior matriculation certificate or its equivalent—the equal of our high school diploma. Also in these six provinces, successful completion of a four-year chiropractic course is necessary in order to qualify for a license.

Chiropractic’s physical plant, too, has grown up over the decades. Although they are fewer in number than the medical institutions, for the simple reason that chiropractic has fewer practitioners and patients, the top-rank chiropractic schools, hospitals, clinics, and mental institutions are rapidly achieving a par in their respective healing field.