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Chiropractic History/Founders Day

Chiropractic Profession and Patients 
Celebrate Founder's Day

Chiropractic’s famous first adjustment is recognized each year as Chiropractic Founder’s Day. This annual observance commemorates September 18th, 1895 as on this day, 120 years ago, Dr. Daniel David Palmer, a pioneering clinician in Davenport, Iowa, administered the first specific chiropractic adjustment. The International Chiropractors Association, which was founded by his son, Dr. B.J. Palmer almost 90 years ago, commemorates Dr. D.D. Palmer’s innovative and pioneering spirit in advancing health care each September, and observes Founder’s Day as a special occasion to expand awareness of chiropractic as a unique and distinct approach to health care around the world. Chiropractic is a separate and distinct healing art, science and philosophy, which without the use of drugs or surgery, serves patients of all ages and walks of life.

Dr. D.D. Palmer delivered his historic first chiropractic adjustment with the specific intent of realigning a malpositioned vertebra, found on his patient Harvey Lillard, to its normal healthy orientation. Mr. Lillard, who had lost most of his hearing 17 years earlier, noted his hearing swiftly returned under Dr. Palmer’s care. Dr. Palmer proceeded to evolve his clinical practice with his new methods of repositioning spinal segments that were out of alignment, and experienced positive clinical results in patients with a wide variety of health concerns. His practice grew and the profession of Chiropractic was launched.

The theory and clinical basis of Chiropractic was concisely described as “Founded on Tone” by Dr. Palmer in a book he authored in 1910, The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic. The growing recognition of relationships between the specific chiropractic adjustment, and the body’s ability to communicate and coordinate its functions for optimizing health, brought new understanding of Chiropractic’s efficacy as a healing art and science. Over subsequent years the science, art and philosophy of this unique and special approach to health care was further described and detailed, with educational institutions established for students to complete an extensive course of study to become Doctors of Chiropractic. Key aspects of the chiropractic approach to health and healing were outlined in a landmark text listing 33 Principles of Chiropractic in 1927, with additional insights and data to follow in an expanding compendium of reference texts and research reports ever since. Over years of research, clinical practice and education, Chiropractic has grown into a widely recognized, distinctive health care profession with an expanding collection of research references, documentation of efficacy and cost-effectiveness, and growing numbers of enthusiastic and grateful patients around the globe.

As an emergent new health science and practice now 120 years old, Chiropractic is predicated on the recognition that the human body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism. And, most constructively, Chiropractic understands how the body, rather than requiring interventions that interrupt or intrude in the healing process, instead needs no interference with its innate capacities for self-coordination, organized communication, and repair -- which is now a concept so accepted and credible that widely-recognized authorities like Drs. Andrew Weil and Deepak Chopra base the core premise of their best-selling books and recordings on this healing model.

The pioneering efforts and key principles of Dr. Palmer that, in his time, were deemed an affront to the orthodox medical industry of the era, set the course for a health revolution in the United States and around the world. From its modest and, unfortunately, often misunderstood and misconstrued beginnings, Chiropractic continues to grow in popularity and acceptance, and is now coming into its own as the largest drugless healthcare profession. It was because of the authenticity and soundness of these principles that Chiropractic has not only survived initial harsh criticism and onslaught by its detractors, but has flourished, and now is increasingly understood and embraced by a wide audience of people in search of health and optimizing their potential in life.

The basic defining and organizational concepts of chiropractic’s core philosophy and science in The 33 Principles are well known by chiropractic doctors and students throughout the profession. They are recognized and applied by many in the profession as the foundation of the value system of chiropractic practice. Many of the complications experienced in chiropractic’s professional evolution and acceptance involve a lack of familiarity with the Principles of Chiropractic, as noted by Jack K. VanDervort, DC, LCP, DPhCS in his research paper delivered at the ICA’s 2002 International Symposium held in Rome, Italy:


Chiropractic has 33 beautiful lines that were written to define and delineate this new healing profession. In the definition of the chiropractic niche in health care we have chosen the word “holistic” rather than “alternative” or “complementary” because of its appropriateness to our distinct, indeed unique, position. Holistic refers to “care of the whole person rather than just treating the symptoms of a disease.” “Complementary” to allopathic medicine or “alternative” to anything, simply are not adequate and do not convey our meaning.

“It is vitally important that both professionals and the public become better aware of the founding principles of this profession,” explains Dr. Daniel J. Murphy, internationally respected chiropractic educator and former ICA Vice President. “The very nature of the language used to describe chiropractic science includes core concepts that are in turn explored in research, articulated in education, and expressed in practice by thousands of doctors of chiropractic worldwide.” These principles are a unifying and distinguishing element in chiropractic, vital to articulating and maintaining the independent perspective chiropractic represents in health care.

Once considered experimental, unorthodox or “alternative” health care, Chiropractic has now become a vital part of the main stream of health care on a global level. “Doctors of Chiropractic worldwide have every reason to be proud of our profession and the unique contributions chiropractic science continues to make to the lives of millions,” said ICA President Dr. George B. Curry. “The International Chiropractors Association continues to advance awareness and understanding of the principles and definitions of chiropractic to foster broader recognition, understanding and acceptance of this unique profession.” Chiropractic receives tremendous support from the public, and every day in countries around the world, millions of individuals of all ages, from newborn infants to the most senior of our citizens, seek the care of a doctor of chiropractic. Throughout its history, the chiropractic profession has provided clinically efficacious, cost-effective and safe care to millions of patients worldwide, and has earned the highest patient satisfaction levels of any doctor-level health care science. ICA is preparing to further support and promote the distinct and unique nature of the profession as it plans its upcoming 90th Anniversary of service to Chiropractic and patients worldwide.


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