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It happens every day somewhere in Meadville. As one of my fellow doctors of chiropractic or I are passing through a shopping center or walking busily downtown, we are spotted by a patient or friend.
It is not unusual for this individual to reach up to their neck or hold their lower back and exclaim "I've got to come in and see you." It is true that many aches and pains respond well to chiropractic adjustments, but did you know the first chiropractic patient did not have a backache?
It is appropriate during Black History Month to acknowledge the first chiropractic patient was a man of color. His name was Harvey Lillard and he was a building superintendent in the Ryan Block, a multi-story professional building in Davenport, Iowa. The year was 1895. Harvey Lillard had a hearing problem. In 1895 there were no devices to accurately measure his degree of hearing loss. Daniel David Palmer (the founder of chiropractic), who occupied an office in the Ryan Block where Harvey Lillard worked, described his deficiency in this way - "He was so deaf he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch."
D. D. Palmer was born on March 7, 1845, a few miles east of Toronto, Canada. His ancestors were Scotch and Irish on his mother's side and English and German on his father's ! side. D.D. Palmer was a magnetic healer for nine years before he discovered the principles that make up the method known as chiropractic. It was as a magnetic healer that D.D. Palmer first evaluated Harvey Lillard.
Dr. Palmer asked Harvey Lillard what caused his hearing problems and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooped position he felt something pop in his back and immediately noticed a loss of hearing. This problem persisted for 17 years. An examination revealed a bone in the back (vertebra) was moved from its normal position. Dr. Palmer reasoned that if the vertebra was replaced, the man's hearing would be restored. Dr. Palmer said that "with this object in view, a half-hour talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before."
It was at this time that D. D. Palmer established the chiropractic profession and later with the help of Rev. Samuel H. Weed of Monmouth, Ill., culled from the Greek language two words chiro and practos, the combination of which made chiropractic, meaning done by the hand.
Dr. Palmer's view of the human body was ahead of his time. Holistic health care has become popular in the last 15 years or so. However, chiropractic has always believed there is an intelligence in our bodies that is factory installed and this intelligence can solve a lot of problems as long as it is not interfered with. A major source of interference is a misalignment of the spine that causes nerve pressure.
Dr. Palmer eloquently described the chiropractic view of health more than 100 years ago: "The human body represents the actions of three laws, spiritual, physical and chemical, united as one triune. As long as there is perfect union of these three, there is health. This machine, like all others, is run by power, called mental impulses, made in the brain and connected with the body through a syst! em of nerves through which this force passes..."
Chiropractic was born in 1895 as a separate and distinct health care system based on a properly functioning nerve system. It is not a replacement for medical diagnosis or treatment. It is a safe, effective, non-invasive way of staying healthy and regaining lost health.
So the next time you see your doctor of chiropractic in the office or in town, remember this chiropractic piece of history and know there is so much more to chiropractic than backache.Back to Articles | Return to Home page