Chiropractic Celebrates 115 Years

By Dr. Dan Van Roon • October 3rd, 2010

On September 18, 1895 the first chiropractic adjustment was given in Davenport, Iowa by Dr. Daniel David Palmer, (born a Canadian from Port Perry, Ontario) The first chiropractic patient was Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the building D.D. (as he was most commonly called) had his office (the Ryan building on the corner of Brady and 2nd Street in Davenport Iowa). Harvey had lost his hearing from a fall 17 years before meeting D.D. D.D. offered to check his spine for what appeared to be a misaligned spinal bone, that may have influenced the function of his hearing.

Within three days of that first adjustment, Harvey had his hearing completely restored, and D.D. had established himself in the eyes of the community as a healer. This is the true story of the first chiropractic adjustment. While the story appears miraculous, D.D. had been preparing himself for the opportunity that presented itself in the form of Harvey Lillard. Prior to that adjustment, D.D. had been practicing magnetic healing, studying anatomy and physiology, and studying the work of his contemporaries such as A.J.Still, the founder of Osteopathy.
From his studies, D.D. reasoned that since the nervous system was known to be the communication system in the body, interference to the nervous system would interfere with normal body function and homeostasis. Examining the anatomy of the body, he reasoned that due to the location of the spinal cord within the spine, and the departure of paired spinal nerves from the spinal cord through holes formed by two adjacent vertebrae, misalignments of those adjacent vertebrae would interfere with the function of those paired nerves. The first adjustment he gave was the first opportunity he had to test his theory in practice. The public response to the first adjustment was very enthusiastic.

The news spread very quickly, and people with very diverse ailments were responding to Palmer’s new “hand treatments” – those with asthma, skin conditions, digestive problems, headaches, epilepsy, sciatica…the list went on and on. One of Palmer’s early patients was Rev. Samual Weed, a scholar who took the Greek word for “hand”, cheir, and “done by”, praktos, and put them together as chiropractic, meaning, literally, “done by the hand.”

Palmer began to research and refine the art, science, and philosophy of this new healing system. He is known as the “Discoverer” of Chiropractic. Within 3 years, the Palmer School of Chiropractic was started, and in its first class of 12 students, 6 were practicing medical doctors. However, the most important student in that first class was D.D.’s son, Bartlett Joshua Palmer. B.J. took over the school shortly after his graduation.
B.J. is often referred to as “the Developer” of Chiropractic, for his role in developing new techniques and for introducing the newly discovered X-rays for chiropractic diagnosis of the Subluxation. Given the modern perception that chiropractic is an effective treatment only for back or neck pain, it is significant that the first adjustment did not address pain of any kind. Chiropractic was founded as a health care system that has an impact on the entire body, and that foundation has allowed chiropractic to grow into the second largest health care system in this country that has over 50,000 practicing chiropractors adjusting over 5 million different people each year. So visiting local chiropractor may be the most important thing you can do!

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