Matthew Green B. Sc. Hons (OST) 

G. O. s. C. Registered Osteopath

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The practice - explained

Origins of Osteopathy
The story of osteopathy

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The Origins of Osteopathy

The story of Osteopathy begins with Andrew Taylor Still:

Andrew Taylor Still was born in Lee County, Virginia, in 1828. His father, the Reverend Abraham Still, was a Methodist circuit rider, doctor and millwright. When Andrew was six years old, the family moved to New Market, Tennessee, where he attended for two years an elementary school known as "Holsten College." The Reverend Still was transferred in 1837 to the sparsely settled area of northeast Missouri where he had been sent as a missionary. The family built a log cabin in which "served as a school, a church, a doctor's office and a home, until other buildings could be built."

Andrew was a typical frontier boy, physically strong and accustomed to the hardiness of pioneer life. He did his share of rigorous farm chores and most of the hunting for the family. His brother, Tom, said of Andrew, "He loved hunting as much as he disliked farming". As he roamed over the countryside, he learned to love nature and became fascinated with living things. He began to examine the muscles and nerves of the animals he skinned, and he started collecting bones of various animals and tried to understand the reason for their size and shape. Nature opened his mind to the fascinating world of anatomy and physiology.

The frugalities and hard work of frontier life, the religious atmosphere of his home and the attitudes of his parents undoubtedly helped create the inquisitive and compassionate character of Andrew Taylor Still. His father advised him, "If you wish to get a meal in a bag, hold the mouth open. If you wish to get sense in your head, hold it open." His parents were sticklers for 'schooling'. They believed in discipline and certainly did not spare the rod. His early education was dependent upon itinerant teachers who conducted short sessions in the log schoolhouse. Determined that Andrew should receive an education, his parents, although Methodists, later sent him to a school in La Plata, Missouri, operated by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.

One day when he was about ten years old, he made what he later called his first discovery in the science of osteopathy:

I suffered from a headache. I made a swing of my father's plowline between two trees; but my head hurt too much to make swinging comfortable, so I let the rope down to about eight or ten inches off the ground, threw the end of a blanket on it, and I stretched on my back, with my neck across the rope. Soon I became easy and went to sleep, got up in a little while with headache all gone.

At that time, he only knew that the headache stopped; but years afterward, he remembered that experience when doing research.

As a youth, Andrew often accompanied his father when he went on house calls. He helped stop the flow of blood and helped fashion rude splints for broken bones. He became familiar with his father's cowhide satchel stocked with drugs. With disease and death a constant threat to the early settlers, and a father who healed both spirit and body, it is no wonder that Andrew decided to enter medicine.

Further reading: -

Origins of Osteopathy

A.T.Still: The Doctor

The Discovery of Osteopathy

Osteopathic Roots

The First Osteopathic School

 


info@matthewgreen.com 31 October 2003

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