The History of Chiropractic Medicine
Learn How Chiropractic Careers Started & Find Chiropractic Schools
Chiropractic medicine adheres to the principle that the body possesses its own innate healing power, placing special emphasis on the spine. While its modern history dates back to the late 19th century, chiropractic's roots can be traced to Hippocrates (c. 460 BC to 370 BC) who believed that disease was a product of environmental factors, diet and living habits—and that the body possesses the power to heal itself.
Today chiropractic treatments and careers are thriving in the natural health marketplace, making today a great time to attend chiropractic school. But to understand chiropractic medicine of today, it's important to trace this intriguing profession's roots back to it's beginning. Learn more about the foundation and evolution of chiropractic schools and careers by reading the history of chiropractic medicine below.
1895 to 1900: The Foundation for Chiropractic Develops
In 1895, Daniel David (DD) Palmer (1845 to 1913), performed the first chiropractic adjustment on a deaf janitor named Harvey Lillard. Palmer related Lillard's deafness to a misaligned vertebra in his spine, which he restored back into position. A few days later, Lillard reported that his hearing had improved.
His success with Lillard led to Palmer's theory that misaligned vertebrae adversely affect nerve flow in the body, which results in disease. He concluded that realigning vertebrae would restore health.
1901 to 1920: Attacks on the Chiropractic Profession
In 1901, the American Medical Association (AMA) put pressure on state medical boards to require licensed medical practitioners to hold a diploma from an AMA-approved college.
Arguing that he could cure disease without a medical license led to multiple arrests for Palmer, and he was eventually convicted in 1906. That year, he was forced to turn over his interests in the Palmer College of Chiropractic to his son, Bartlett Joshua (BJ) Palmer (1881 to 1961), a graduate of his father's chiropractic school.
Together with some fellow Palmer College graduates, BJ created the Universal Chiropractic Association (UCA) to help cover members' legal expenses should they get arrested. BJ dedicated himself to promoting professionalism and formal training in chiropractic, expanding enrollment in chiropractic education to over 1,000 students in the early 1920s.
1921 to 1930: Formation of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE)
Practitioners who believed in mixing medical practices with chiropractic became subject to attacks from UCA members who supported straight chiropractic methods. Those who faced attack soon formed the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) to advance chiropractic education and research and officially recognize other modalities, such as physio-therapy, as pertaining to chiropractic.
In 1930, the UCA and ACA merged to form the National Chiropractic Association (NCA), which developed a committee that would evolve into today's Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), the accrediting body for chiropractic schools and chiropractic continuing education programs in the United States.
1950s to Today: The Path to National Recognition and Acceptance
The late 1950s saw extraordinary transformations in US health care, including the discovery of penicillin and the polio vaccine, which led to the virtual disappearance of homeopathic physicians. Add to that the AMA's effort in 1963 to contain and eventually eliminate chiropractic through defamation and legislation.
However, in 1975, the National Institutes of Health sponsored a conference on the development of strategies to study the effects of spinal manipulation, which included members of the chiropractic, osteopathic and medical communities as well as PhD scientists. Soon after, in 1978, the Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics (JMPT), a public source for improving standards of chiropractic research and professionalism, began publication.
Since the 1980s, the chiropractic profession has made gains in research, legitimacy and acceptance among the medical community and the general public whose demand has resulted in the Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting a 14 percent job growth rate for chiropractic careers through 2016.
Chiropractic Careers Today: A Rewarding Career in a Time of Natural Health Awareness
While skepticism remains, the idea of achieving optimal wellness through natural methods greatly appeals to health-conscious Americans. Embarking on a chiropractic career today offers the opportunity to enter a highly rewarding, historically rich profession where you can make a dramatic impact on people's health every day.
World Chiropractic Alliance, 2008
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