The Osteopathic Way

Maria T. Gentile, D.O.

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Treatment of Pain and Injury

Brief History of Osteopathy

Andrew Taylor Still, M.D. - Father of Osteopathic Medicine

1828 - 1917

Osteopathic medicine is a unique and holistic form of American medical care developed by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D in 1874. Dr. Still was dissatisfied with the effectiveness of 19th century medicine which included such treatments as amputation, bleeding and calomel (a mercury-based medication). He believed that many of the medications of his day were useless or even harmful. Personally, he suffered the tragedy of watching three of his children die from meningitis despite their receiving the best medical treatment available. To cope with his grief and disillusionment, Dr. Still dedicated the next 10 years of his life to the intensive study of anatomy and physiology in the hopes of finding a better, alternative means of healing.

Dr. Still was one of the first in his time to study the attributes of good health so that he could better understand the process of disease. He developed a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that dated back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all the body’s parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health, determining that the maintenance of proper structure by occasional manipulation, enabled the body to function properly and to resist disease by enhancing the immune system. He also recognized the body's ability to heal itself and stressed preventative medicine, eating properly, and keeping fit.

Dr. Still presented his theories to his allopathic (M.D.) colleagues who mocked him and accused him of quackery. Firmly believing in the value of what he had developed, Dr. Still formalized his philosophy into the science we know as "Osteopathy."  Osteopathy is both a science and an art that is based upon and within the following holistic principles:

The body is a self healing mechanism.

Structure governs function.

All body systems are interrelated.

Dr. Still pioneered the concept of wellness over 100 years ago. In coordination with appropriate medical treatment, the Osteopathic Physician acts as a teacher to help patients take more responsibility for their own well being and change unhealthy patterns.

Osteopathic practice focuses on the musculoskeletal system, Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT), diet, exercise, and fitness in the prevention and maintenance of total health.


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