Osteopathy: A brief history
Andrew Taylor Still
The practice of Osteopathic medicine began in the United States in 1874 by Dr Andrew Taylor Still. Andrew Taylor Still, the founder of osteopathy was born on August 6, 1828 in Virginia. He was brought up in a strongly religious home, his father was a doctor, a Christian minister, a farmer and a millwright. He believed that God created perfect human body’s and therefore a perfect body could heal itself.
The early years
As a young child, Still suffered from frequent headaches with nausea. One day whilst suffering a headache, he removed the board of a rope swing which his father had made for him and lay on the ground with the back of his neck on a blanket that he placed over the rope. The headaches eased and he was able to sleep. When he awoke the headaches were gone. He would then often do this when headaches would occur. This was to be an important moment, as years later these experiences contributed to the development of Osteopathy.
Training and practice
Still originally studied orthodox medicine, and practiced at a time known as the “Age of Heroic Medicine”. Medications and techniques included, laxatives, bloodletting, purgatives, mercury compounds, narcotics and alcohol based drugs. The treatments oftentimes did more damage to the patient than the illnesses.
It was however only when he lost three of his children to meningitis, that the failures of orthodox medicine at the time, became most evident. He severed his links with orthodox medicine and threw himself into the further development of Osteopathy.
A new beginning
Through much research, Still realized that he was able to effectively treat patients manually. He was able to develop a very practical way of treating his patients with just his hands. In 1892 Still started the American School of Osteopathy (AS0) in Kirksville, Missouri. Since then Osteopathy has crossed the borders of the U.S and is practiced in Canada, across Europe, Australia and New Zealand and Israel.