( Originally Published 1957 )
One of the country's leading independent research organizations, the non-profit Public Affairs Institute, has published a study on the modern chiropractor which terms his role in healing the sick as "both large and growing in importance."
The study, "The Present Day Doctor of Chiropractic," was written by Dewey Anderson, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Institute, which publishes research studies on a variety of topics. (It can be obtained, at 25¢ per copy, from the Public Affairs Institute, 312 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., Washington 3, D.C.) Dr. Anderson investigated the history and practice of chiropractic, the education of today's chiropractors, the scientific and theoretical foundations of chiropractic, and the criticism of the chiropractic profession by organized medical interests, and covered these topics exhaustively in his 30-page booklet.
Since this was the first time that an independent and unbiased study of the chiropractic profession has been published, the author's findings are of great interest not only to chiropractors but to the public at large.
To Dr. Anderson, the training and habits of mind of today's chiropractor "force him to consider the whole patient, starting with the diagnosis of his' problems and going on to their solution—the health of the patient—with care and concern which, while professional in the best sense of that term, is also friendly and cooperative."
The average person, the author states, goes through life with few complicated diseases. But, he adds, we do need more often the attention of trained scientists who can ease our pains, catch troubles before they weaken us, and keep us strong and alert.
"The present day doctor of chiropractic," Dr. Anderson says, "is equipped both by training and experience to treat successfully many of the ills besetting mankind." And he adds, "The role of the trained doctor of chiropractic in helping us overcome bodily pains and ills is therefore both large and growing in importance. He stands in the front line of defense, ready to detect by careful diagnosis any trouble while it's still small and manageable. He is quick to give treatments that relieve pain and suffering. His treatments are in-tended to send you back to your home or your job fit to work or play and ready to meet life's demands with a serene mind and strong body."
Dr. Anderson explains that chiropractic is a system of treatment and healing "premised on the theories that much disease is caused by interference with the function of the nervous system; that structural maladjustments which cause nerve irritation and lower body resistance are a common though not exclusive cause of disease."
He relates how D. D. Palmer almost 67 years ago made the discovery of the relationship between the sound functioning of the nervous system and the spinal adjustment, or manipulation. He concludes: "Here is a broadly based system of healing, having its roots in ancient wisdom, tempered by modern scientific discovery and applied with the understanding gained through modern education and training under expert supervision."
A solid scientific and applied training gives the modern doctor of chiropractic the foundation for his special techniques, Dr. Anderson states. He stresses that the chiropractor has had 4,000 class hours of professional education to train him properly in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.
"There is no more chance of the present-day doctor of chiropractic going ahead to treat a new patient in some careless approach to his or her health problem than there is of any other practitioner of any of the healing arts doing so. For professionally he is not only trained to make a careful diagnosis but the success of his treatment depends on the correctness of that diagnosis. What is that treatment which has caused the number of patients seeking chiropractic care to soar so rapidly?
"As simply as a lay person can put the matter, while at the same time seeking to keep entirely within the bounds of known scientific facts, the major emphasis of a chiropractic treatment of the spinal area rests on a manual adjustment and manipulation of the affected area by a doctor qualified to make this adjustment .. ,
"Probably none of the other healing arts is better equipped to follow its patients through their daily lives on a continuing and constructive basis than is chiropractic. The sick person visits his doctor of medicine when he is so sick that he just must get relief, or when his fear mounts to the point that he cannot avoid his doctor. But he stays away from that doctor as long as he can, just as he shuns his dentist until a tooth needs pulling.
"Not so with respect to the doctor of chiropractic, for by its very nature a chiropractic treatment is satisfying to the patient and is looked forward to with pleasant anticipation. The chiropractic treatment is so helpful that many people engage their doctor for regular treatments, a system that may add years of helpful, zestful living to their lives.
"The present-day doctor of chiropractic does not regard himself as qualified either by training or experience to treat every condition he meets. He does not seek to practice internal medicine or surgery. But, he is on good terms with specialists who can and do so, to whom he makes referrals of patients. He is in a unique position to form one of a team, offering specialized treatment when that is necessary or desirable to serve the needs of ill people, or to meet the requirements of a community for health services.
"In fact, group practice and team activity in which the several healing arts combine their specialties is in-creasing, so that it is growing more usual to find a doctor of chiropractic on an industrial staff working alongside the doctor of medicine to keep employees fit; a doctor of chiropractic as part of the health team in a public facility; a doctor of chiropractic on a community health and welfare committee. For the particular value of the trained and experienced chiropractor is becoming recognized at its face value."
Since every profession is built upon a body of knowledge which has developed over a period of years, Dr. Anderson correctly appraises chiropractic in the light of certain concepts which are regarded as well as accepted by the public at large. What about germs, for instance, and the theory that it is germs which cause disease? On this point, Dr. Anderson says:
"Today's chiropractor explains his attitude toward bacteriology and immunology—the germ theory of disease—as follows : Of course bacteria and viruses can cause disease, and do. But the extent to which they successfully attack the human body depends upon the level of resistance of the body. The role of the nervous system in establishing and maintaining body strength or building up resistance after infection has taken hold must not be discounted. Hence, the present-day chiropractor's ability to improve body tone through the correction or lessening of nerve irritation and prescription of hygienic practices and good nursing care become important factors in the cure of disease.
"From a handful of patients somewhat more than half a century ago who came to D. D. Palmer (chiropractic's discoverer) and got relief, those being cared for by today's chiropractors number many millions. And every year the number swells as chiropractors become more proficient and as their satisfied and healthy patients spread the word. Here is the best and final test of an emerging profession seriously serving the public."
Dr. Anderson relates the history of professional education in the United States and recalls the days, some 44 years ago, when medical education in this country was condemned as a hazard to the sick. He points out that standards are constantly improving in all fields.
“Today,“ he says, "the graduate of an accredited chiropractic college is as well qualified to practice his healing art as the graduate of an accredited medical college is qualified to practice medicine as his form of the healing art. Often, too, they both have to pass the same state board examinations in the basic sciences to obtain a license.
"During his four years of training, the present-day doctor of chiropractic takes 740 hours of instruction and laboratory work in anatomy, including embryology and histology; 240 hours of physiology; 180 hours of biochemistry; 520 hours of pathology and bacteriology; 200 hours of obstetrics and gynecology; and 1,960 hours of diagnosis and treatment following the special principles of his healing art, covering such subjects as neurology, pediatrics, dermatology and roentgenology.
"The present-day doctor of chiropractic is not . only well equipped in the basic sciences, classroom and laboratory study of his profession, but undergoes many hours of practice under supervision before being graduated. This is the counterpart of what happens with the medical students who must depend on hospital internships for their bedside training, a projection into the modern day of the apprentice system which has proved so invaluable in providing competency. In addition, the more advanced training centers have added clinical training and strong pressure is underway to admit chiropractors to service in public and veterans' hospitals.
"All these advances have strengthened the professional position and opportunities for service of present-day doctors of chiropractic. The insurance companies have responded to this situation, and well over 500 now accept chiropractors' certification on claims. The trend is so pronounced that it is safe to say that these cautious business institutions are universally recognizing the safety, integrity, and professional competence of chiropractors.
"Business and industry have come increasingly to view the chiropractic form of the healing art as helpful in keeping workers fit. Thus the nationally operated Western Union Telegraph Company assures that chiropractic certification will be accepted for employee benefits.
`Probably in few other groups has chiropractic been so widely and universally acclaimed as in athletics. Professional and amateur athletic organizations have employed staffs of doctors of chiropractic to keep their members fit.
"Chiropractic has proven its worth in the care of veterans. As a result the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans, among other veterans' organizations, have consistently and actively supported chiropractic as a method of healing and urged for it undiscriminating and fair treatment in legislation offered both nationally and in the several states.
"The Chiropractic Research Foundation reports successful treatment of both acute and chronic polio by chiropractic methods.
"Chief among those who testify to their increasingly valuable experiences with the work of doctors of chiropractic are their patients. It is these satisfied patients who tell the story to their neighbors and friends. They defend the profession from unfair attacks. They urge equality of treatment before the laws of the states and nation for this form of the healing art whose effectiveness has been demonstrated in their own cases."
What of the future of chiropractic? Dr. Anderson is well aware that strong attacks have been made on the practice of chiropractic. After examining the nature of these attacks, he says that most practicing medical men have no time to judge its merits and appreciate the fact that such attacks represent the natural antagonism of an existing profession toward a successful newcomer.
Most of the attacks, he points out, are made by "the professional political arm of medicine," and he says, "an unbiased, impartial appraisal of chiropractic is seldom, if ever, forthcoming from such sources."
"In these days of high-speed living, stresses and strains and resultant nerve-exhaustion," says Dr. Anderson, "chiropractic is fast becoming an indispensable element in helping people maintain good health."
He concludes: "For chiropractic science and its application by means of a present-day chiropractor's consultation and treatment, function with the whole man in mind. Starting with the base of neuro-anatomical structure and seeing the man in his daily environment, chiropractic seeks to make a proper alignment between the function of this basic apparatus and nutrition and elimination as basic aspects of the physiological manifestations of living. The training and experience of the doctor of chiropractic equip him particularly well to provide professional advice and treatment where needed in this complex task of adjusting the individual and his surroundings.
"Add to the foregoing the fact that the doctor of chiropractic is striving to build his profession, to meet his social responsibilities, to take his place as a leader in the community. In this he has developed a code of ethics that manifests high regard for the rights of his patients, a commitment to the `golden rule' of individual conduct, and a sense that the integrity of his own occupation rests on his recognition of the integrity of every other occupation within the broad field of the healing art.
"The way ahead is becoming clearer with the passage of time. Much of the unreasoned heat has gone out of the opposition of the longer-established medical profession, and the attacks still being made on chiropractic are more tempered. There are a growing number of practitioners of the older forms of the healing art who work alongside the doctors of chiropractic in professional accord, each doing that part of the job of providing health services which his training and experience best qualify him to do. This feature of team work holds great hope for the future, and much good will result for people who need both kinds of care.
"Finally, it can be said in closing this brief description of chiropractic that the profession itself is so ardent about its future that nothing can stop doctors of chiropractic from being devoted public servants and becoming better ones with the passage of time."