History of Osteopathy

Adrew Taylor Still

01First years

Andrew Taylor Still was born in West Virginia. He was the son of a Doctor and Methodist pastor. Initially, he studied and became apprentice to his father, and then, he earned a degree in the state of Missouri. Later, at the end of the 1860s, he received additional training at the Kansas School of Physicians and Surgeons as a doctor and surgeon.

02Birth of osteopathy

The death of three of his children due to a meningitis epidemic has a great impact on him and he reconsidered the principals of  Medicine, disappointed with the therapeutic means available. Still was disappointed in traditional medicine, which was based almost exclusively on drugs that he considered toxic due to their side affects.

At that time a change occurred in the so-called traditional medicine with the development of branches of the parallel medicine: Homeopathy, naturopathy and osteopathy. Andrew Taylor Still developed a new approach to the understanding of health and illness.

One of the main foundations of osteopathy is that structure governs function. He argued that function was conditioned by bone structure, so that poor positioning of  the articulations brought about organic dysfunction. He corrected these poor positions by means of manipulations that he himself developed and that constitute the key to his method. Manipulation is a technique to free the movement of the articulation: Without movement there is no life. It’s about intervening  upon the necessary structures in order to re-establish the optimum functioning. These principals put into practice proved to be very effective and the reputation of Still rapidly spread throughout the United States..

Osteopathy is a comprehensive concept that focuses on the patient. It’s a natural medicine that  tries to give man complete possession of his physical and psychological potential. Osteopathy does’t treat illnesses, but rather the people who have illnesses.

03Success and diffusion of Osteopathy

In 1874, Still treated the first case of Hemorrhagic Dysentery in a four year old child, which represented a great success for Osteopathy. At the end of the XIX century, Still started publishing his osteopathy texts and began to train his first disciples. In 1892, Andrew Taylor Still founded the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri, the first school of osteopathy. Osteopathy was recognized in the United States as an official medicine and osteopaths enjoy the same rights as conventional doctors.

Osteopathy arrived in Europe through some British disciples and in 1917 J.M. Littlejohn founded the British School of Osteopathy. Osteopathy was introduced into Europe through England, which even today continues to serve as a reference point for all those who practice it. It was the first country to recognise osteopathy as a profession and independent career in 1993, recognised and approved by Parliament. In Belgium in 1997 and in France, Ireland and Norway in 2002 the regularisation process began. The rest of the countries of the European Union, such as Spain, maintain contact with the administrations with the aim of regularising it in all of the countries of the European Union.

Andrew Still died in 1917.

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