Sunday, 9 March 2014

A Brief History of Osteopathy

History of Osteopathy

Traditional allopathic (Western) medicine in North America was very crude in the nineteenth century. Blistering, blood-letting, and purging were common therapies at this time. When surgery was performed, the techniques used were not precise, there were few (if any) anaesthetics, and hygiene was poor. Doctors were quite helpless when they tried to treat many conditions, including meningitis. When a meningitis epidemic struck in Missouri in 1864, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still lost 3 of his children. Dr. Still was trained in allopathic medicine, but he was unable to fight the disease effectively. He began looking for a new medical model – a safe, effective way to treat patients. Dr. Still spent 10 years studying health and disease in the context of human anatomy. The main concepts of modern osteopathy are a result of his work.
Dr. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) in 1892. The first class had 12 male students and 3 female students. Allowing women to participate was revolutionary at the time. In the first 18 years of the school, approximately one-fifth of the students were women. A few Canadians (including some who were already medical doctors) travelled to the United States to learn Osteopathy. They returned to Canada to practise Osteopathy here.

By this time, the ASO was graduating 300 students a year. Alumni of the school were practising Osteopathy across the United States, Canada, and Europe. American Osteopathic physicians wanted their profession to be regulated by the government. The first state to regulate Osteopathy was Vermont (in 1891), and the last state to do so was Louisiana (in 1973). All states in the United States recognize Osteopathic physicians as equal to medical doctors. Today, there are 28 osteopathic schools in the United States and more than 70,000 practising Osteopathic physicians.

The first Osteopathic medical school in London, England was pioneered by one of Still’s students John Martin Littlejohn. Graduates however were not allowed to practise Osteopathic Medicine in the United Kingdom. They were (and still are) restricted to practising manual Osteopathy only. For over 70 years, Osteopaths in the U.K. tried to have the government officially recognize them. They achieved this goal when the Osteopaths Act was passed 1993. Today there are over 3,000 Osteopaths in the U.K. and 7 Osteopathy schools. In 2000, Osteopathy became a regulated profession and title, protected by law. Osteopathy spread to other countries in Europe. In each country, Osteopaths have worked to gain official recognition. There are both Manual Osteopaths and Osteopathic physicians in Europe today. Osteopathy has also spread to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Russia, and Brazil.

Osteopathic physicians in Canada formed the Canadian Osteopathic Association and were acknowledged by the Canadian government. But since health care is regulated by the provinces, different restrictions were put on the practice of Osteopathy in each province. The osteopathic physicians lobbied to be given equal status with allopathic physicians (doctors of traditional Western medicine). Allopathic Medical Associations lobbied against osteopaths participating in Canadian health care.

Osteopathic physicians in Quebec were charged with practicing medicine without a license. The charges were eventually dropped on the condition that no new Osteopaths be allowed to come to Quebec. In most provinces, Osteopathic physicians were granted the status of “drugless practitioners.” They were not allowed to prescribe drugs, do surgery, or work in obstetrics. As a result of these restrictions, the number of physicians in Canada began to decrease. By 1954 there were only 124 Osteopathic physicians practicing in Canada. By 1962, the number had dropped to 105. 

The Canadian Royal Commission on Health Services published a report called Study of Chiropractors, Osteopaths and Naturopaths in Canada. This report gave 3 main explanations for the declining number of Osteopaths in Canada. There was no legislation regarding the practice of Osteopathy. This was the biggest factor in the historical trend. Professional training for Osteopathic medicine was not available. There were many Osteopathic physicians in the United States (11,000) but only a few in Canada (100).

The number of American-trained Osteopathic physicians working in Canada was still declining. Osteopathy in Canada was facing extinction. 

Other Osteopathic physicians and Osteopaths have started schools in Hamilton, Oakville and Toronto, Ontario respectively. These programs are of various part-time lengths and some are still in start-up phases. All the schools teach manual Osteopathic techniques.

The World Osteopathic Health Organization (WOHO) was formed. It is developing worldwide standards for Osteopathic physicians and manual practitioners. The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario began licensing American-trained Osteopathic physicians as physicians in Ontario.

National Academy of Osteopathy was founded in June 2010 by manual osteopath, Dr Shahin Pourgol. NAO was founded to help people across the world have access to manual osteopathic care. NAO became the first school to offer manual osteopathic education through a mix of online and campus based format. Within two years NAO became the largest provider of manual osteopathic education in the world. Currently it teaches in 65 cities across 35 countries. It has two main programs; a 4 to 8 months Diploma in Osteopathic Manual Practice program as well as a 4 years fellowship program in Osteopathic Rehabilitation Sciences, the first fellowship program for manual osteopaths.

World Osteopathy Day was founded by Dr Pourgol on June 22nd. After 137 years osteopathy now has a day of its own.

 July 2013
The College of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners of Ontario (COMPO) is set up on July 2013. This is the first manual osteopathic organization that is founded to protect the interest of the public. It has 9 elected manual osteopaths and 7 nominated members of the public. In a short time since its foundation with over 500 members it has become the largest manual osteopathic organization in the province of Ontario (Canada).

October 2013
National University of Medical Sciences (NUMSS) is founded by Dr Pourgol in Madrid, Spain. NUMSS offers 33 health related programs through online on-demand education with practical campus based classes. NUMSS offers nines degrees in manual osteopathy, including a bachelor of science in osteopathy & a doctor of osteopathy (DO). Within a year NUMSS has surpassed NAO to become the largest provider of manual osteopathic education worldwide.

December 2013
Ontario Hospital Association (OHA) accepts National Academy of Osteopathy as an affiliate member on December 2013, a first in history. 

Osteopathy TV is founded by Dr Pourgol on January 2014. This is the first ever TV station dedicated solely to the profession of manual osteopathy.

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