History of Osteopathy
The profession of Osteopathy was founded single-handedly in 1874 by an American physician, with a mechanical background, named Andrew Taylor Still (1828-1917). Still was the third son of a pioneer doctor, under whom he apprenticed at the close of the Jacksonian era (1829-1837). It was a time that encouraged independent thought and the development of new disciplines to improve the lot of mankind. Following Still's participation in the American Civil War, he began an empirical study of the human body under the premise that by studying “God's work” he would have a greater understanding of his “Creator.”
Andrew Taylor Still
Still disdained the common practices of physicians in the 1800s, such as venesection, emesis, and sedation with narcotics. He believed, instead, that everything necessary to sustain human life was already present within the human body. Still sought to find non-medicinal and non-surgical avenues to enhance the body's innate ability to heal itself.
Still focused on mechanical removal of the impediments to the free circulation of fluids and the elements carried within those fluids. He believed that once these “mechanical blockages” to the free flow of fluids were removed, the free circulation of all the fluids of the body would naturally return. The free flow of fluids was Still's key to the self-regulation and self-healing processes of the body. Still's application of this philosophy and methodology proved successful in treating musculoskeletal problems, as well as the major diseases of his era, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, dysentery, and typhoid fever.
Still's work was transmitted through writings that were primarily philosophical in nature. However, he also described two main practical techniques. One focused on restoring the “position” of the bones in relation to one another. The other restored the “place” of the organs in relation to the major vessels and neural centres of the body's cavities. These two systems are now known as osteo-articular adjustments and visceral normalization.
The first school of osteopathy was opened by Still in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892. Several of his original students later enhanced the profession through the introduction of other manual techniques, such as cranial-sacral therapy and fascial release.
By 1910, it was recommended, through sponsored reports, that osteopathic colleges within the United States adopt a system of higher education, licensing, and regulation. By 1930, through a staggered transition, the American osteopathic profession adopted a medical model of osteopathic education that incorporated all conventional diagnostic and therapeutic practices of medicine, including pharmacology, surgery, and obstetrics. For this reason, all graduates from osteopathic colleges and universities in the United States are fully licensed medical physicians and are recognized internationally as Osteopathic Physicians.
The rest of the world—including Europe, Asia, Canada, and the countries of the Southern Hemisphere—has not adopted this medical model of Osteopathy. Instead, their curricula focus primarily on the manual application of traditional osteopathic philosophy and principles.
In 1917, Osteopathy took root in Europe thanks to Martin Littlejohn, DO, a student of Dr. Still and a professor at the Kirksville osteopathic school. Littlejohn founded the British School of Osteopathy, which remains active today. In France, the origin of Osteopathy has been traced to Major Stirling in 1913.
The osteopathic college in Ontario, founded in 1991, is The Canadian College of Osteopathy (CCO). This college was modelled after the Collège d'Études Ostéopathiques in Quebec, which was founded by Philippe Druelle, DO, in 1981. The lineage of Traditional Osteopaths can be followed directly to the faculty of the CCO. In particular, such renowned Osteopaths as Thomas Schooley, DO (deceased); Denis Brooks, DO (deceased); Anne Wales, DO (who was still actively treating in her 97th year); and Viola Frymann, DO, have all either been instructors in the college's faculty or guest lecturers at symposiums offered by the Association of Traditional Osteopathic Colleges of Canada (ATOCC) over the last 20 years. These Osteopaths were all students of William Garner Sutherland, who was a student of A.T. Still's 1900 graduating class.
Fred Mitchell, Jr., is the current instructor of the CCO's course titled, Muscle Energy, which was a concept developed by his father, Fred Mitchell, Sr. Jean Guy Sicotte, MD, DO, is the CCO's current instructor of Strain Counterstrain, which was developed by Lawrence H. Jones, DO. Dr. Sicotte studied Strain Counterstrain under Dr. Jones. Harold Magoun, Sr., wrote one of the CCO's most relied-upon textbooks, Osteopathy in the Cranial Field. Magoun's son, Harold Magoun, Jr., an Osteopath with more than 50 years of experience, is a regular guest lecturer of the ATOCC. Jean-Pierre Barral, DO, developer of the Visceral Concept, has also taught at ATOCC symposiums.
The direct lineage from the founding predecessors of Traditional Osteopathy distinguishes the education program offered by CCO from all other osteopathic colleges in Canada.