The first osteopathic school opened in Kirksville Missouri in 1892 under the direction of Dr. Andrew Taylor Still MD. He was a traditionally trained medical doctor, studying medicine from 1856-1860. Dr. Still developed a mechanical theory of disease and along with it a philosophy of how to use physical manipulation to cure disease that was diagnosed mechanically. Dr. Still and his American predecessors enjoyed the benefits of osteopathic manipulation throughout the first part of the twentieth century. Around that time the distinction between the American Osteopathic Association and the American Medical Association became blurred.

Today, while there is a distinction between American trained and certified medical doctors (MD) and osteopathic physicians (DO), the distinction is more administrative than practical. Both American MD’s and DO’s are fully licenced to practice medicine including all of its branches: physiatry, psychiatry, internal medicine, cardiology, gastroenterology, major surgery, etc, etc, etc.

While the American osteopaths evolved into a modern medical society, early osteopaths migrating away from Kirksville as well as others who simply traveled to Kirksville to study osteopathy, took the original non-pharmacologic, manipulative philosophy of osteopathy to many other parts of the world. It is with this philosophy that I treat.

With osteopathy representing a philosophy of treatment it becomes difficult to objectively define it. In 1902 BA Duffield, an early American osteopath described osteopathy in terms that are still perfectly worded for the way manipulative osteopaths treat:

“Osteopathy is a scientific method of healing by skillful manipulation of the human body, based on a thorough knowledge of anatomy and physiology, by which the operator is enabled to trace effects to their cause and remove them, thus restoring harmony throughout the body – which is health – “ JAOA 1902, Vol. 1 p.253

Craig Harness
1 Division Street
Lower Level 1B
Bowmanville, ON
L1C 2Z2
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