Osteopathy was founded by Andrew Taylor Still, M.D., a frontier doctor in the mid 1800s, after he became disillusioned with the state of medical care at the time. He lost 3 of his children to an outbreak of spinal meningitis in 1864, and then one month later lost his daughter to pneumonia. The failure of medicine to help save his children prompted his search for better medical approaches. He underwent years of study of anatomy to help him understand the workings of the human body. He came to see that many diseases could be treated by correcting anatomical deviations that impaired blood flow and nerve function throughout the human system. Once corrected this allowed the body’s inherent healing mechanism to restore normal function. From his extensive study and results in practice he established Osteopathy as a complete medical system and opened the first school in 1892 in Kirksville, Missouri.
The four principles upon which the profession is founded are:
- The body is a unit.
- Structure and function are interrelated.
- The body possesses self-regulating and self-healing mechanisms.
- Rational treatment is based upon the application of these principles.
Since its inception, Osteopathic Medicine has continued to grow. D.O.’s are fully licensed physicians in the United States, like M.D.’s, capable of prescribing medication, performing surgery and entering any medical specialty. However in addition to studying the same curriculum as M.D.’s, they receive an additional 300-500 hours of training in the musculoskeletal system.