Osteopathy

OSTEOPATHY

HISTORY

Andrew Taylor Still, MD was a physician in the late 1800’s. Motivated by the tragic deaths of his children and guided by his belief in the Divine wisdom he saw at work in the natural world, he “saw a small light in the horizon of truth” and discovered the science of Osteopathy. “Osteopathy is to me a very sacred science. It is sacred because it is a healing power through all of nature.”

Dr. Still differed from most other scientific and medical thinkers, in that he suggested that the role of the physician was to find the Health within their patients, not to just identify and treat their diseases. This concept remains as revolutionary today as it was 150 years ago. Dr. Still believed that the “God of Nature” had put everything necessary for Health within the Living Human Body, which he called “God’s drug store”. “I decided that God was not a guessing God, but a God of truth. And all of his works, spiritual and material, are harmonious. So wise a God certainly placed the remedy within the material house in which the spirit of life dwells.”

The physician’s job then, was to cooperate with the natural laws at work within their patients. “A few years spent in the school of Nature teaches the osteopath that principles govern the universe, and he must obey all orders or fail to cure his patients”. This emphasis on principles, rather than merely identifying diseases and directing treatment at modifying their effects (symptoms), meant that the Osteopath could then focus their attention on the causes of illness. Once the cause was identified, the Osteopath’s job would be “to adjust the part or whole of the system so that the rivers of life may flow in and irrigate the famishing fields”. The result, was a new method of diagnosis and treatment that was not only more effective, but also safer.

How to provide this treatment was also of concern to Dr. Still. Treatment was not just a “readjustment of bones to a normal position. Beyond this lies the still greater question to be solved: How and when to apply the touch that sets free the chemicals of life as Nature designs”. As Nature designs. The Osteopath must recognize that these healing forces are inherent, intelligent and unerring, and then do their work accordingly. Furthermore, “an intelligent head will soon learn that a soft hand and a gentle move is the hand and head that get the desired result”. Dr. Still was very clear that all people are the “handiwork of God” and must be treated with that level of care and respect.

TRAINING

The first Osteopathic medical school, the American School of Osteopathy opened in 1892. Today there are 25 schools with 28 campuses that will graduate 3,900 DO’s in 2009. DO medical students complete 4 years of Osteopathic medical school, covering all of the standard training in the basic sciences and clinical medicine that an MD medical education would cover. In addition, DO medical students complete another 500 hours of training and study in anatomy and manual medicine. Successful completion of this curriculum leads to a Doctor of Osteopathy degree (D.O.).

After medical school, The DO can pursue Internship and Residency training in any of the medical or surgical specialties, as well as in Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine. After this 3 year an NMM residency, the DO can apply for Board Certification by the American Osteopathic Board of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine. This process is one of the most comprehensive board exams in either profession, including written, oral, and practical examinations.

PRACTICE

These graduates will join the 59,000 DO’s already in practice in the USA. DO’s are licensed in all 50 states to practice the full spectrum of medicine and surgery, in addition to Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine.