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
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
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
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,
Manipulative Treatment (OMT),
diet, exercise, and fitness in the prevention and maintenance of total health.
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