The modern-day system and theory of chiropractic was founded in 1895 by Daniel David Palmer, a longtime student of physiology and
anatomy in Davenport, Iowa.
In the fall of 1895, a janitor named Harvey Lillard entered the office of Palmer. Lillard had been deaf since straining himself seventeen years earlier while working in a cramped position. Upon examining the man, Palmer discovered a painful prominent vertebra in the upper spine, which Lillard confirmed had been the source of the original injury that had led to his deafness. Palmer applied a sharp thrust, repositioning the bone, and Lillard's hearing returned better than ever. Thus chiropractic was born.
Manipulation of the spine had been a part of the healing repertoires of virtually all traditional cultures, from the ancient Greeks to the Pacific islanders to the Native Americans. What Palmer pioneered was the modern theory of joint-oriented nerve interference that quickly brought supporters. The first chiropractic college was formed by Palmer in 1897. The first state licensing law for chiropractic was passed in 1913.
Palmer described his approach as a means of connecting "man the spiritual" to "man the physical" by eliminating interference to the flow of "innate intelligence" through each individual. All living beings are endowed with this "innate intelligence. " Palmer believed that this intelligence regulates all the vital functions of the body as it flows through the central nervous system. Because of this belief, Palmer felt that the primary task of the chiropractor was not to treat conditions but to remove nerve interference caused by subluxations so that the innate intelligence could carry out its role of maintaining the body's health and equilibrium without obstruction.
Palmer was very fascinated with Innate Intelligence and its relationship to the nervous system. This philosophy formed the basis of his chiropractic theory. Chiropractic, he said, embraces "the science of life, the knowledge of how organisms act in health and disease, and also the art of adjusting the neuroskeleton. " Any disease process anywhere in the body is affected, at least in part, by the ability of the nervous system to enervate and enliven that area. Hence, any disease process can potentially benefit from chiropractic.
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