As critical thinkers entering the profession of chiropractic, it is imperative to have a strong understanding of past events and the impact these have had on the movement of the profession. With this knowledge, it is possible to evaluate and compare different schools of thought in the early days of chiropractic. Some of chiropractic’s historical leaders include D.D. Palmer, as well as Dr. Ralph Stephenson; and they both brought with them their own ideologies and epistemologies that have had a tremendous impact.
The dogma of D.D. Palmer was heavily based on the healing art of magnetism, one in which he focused on inflammation as the cause of disease (1). He later came to theorize that inflammation was caused by the misplacement of anatomical parts, including blood supply, soft tissue and joints (1). Ultimately, he postulated that when bones were misplaced (subluxated), they caused malfunction, and the adjustment these segments would restore proper function of the body (1). This evidence stems from the earliest account of D.D. Palmer treating a deaf patient that had an “injury in the spine” (1). Conversely, the 33 Stephenson’s postulates are much different in that he stressed that the existence of God explained all other things (1). In these 33 postulates, there is a recurrent theme of universal intelligence and the innate forces, all of which stem from Vitalism (1).
Unlike the above two advances, are the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College’s Vision, Mission and Model of Care statements. First, these differ in their emphasis on patient, as well as colleague care and respect CMCC instills in their students (2). CMCC prides on approaching cases from an evidence-based perspective, which has become possible owing to the postulates of the chiropractic leaders discussed previously (2). The metaphysics that fueled the earlier vitalistic postulates of chiropractic has developed into the practice we know today. With this then, we no longer need to postulate the mechanism of chiropractic, but fine tune the way in which it is delivered; the way in which “leaders in spinal health” are educated, and the morals they follow in practice (2).
Perhaps a very influential figure in the history of chiropractic is Dr. C. O. Watkins. He is important in the progression of chiropractic, as he encouraged critical thinking while he was associated with the National Chiropractic Association (1). Watkins had a passion to move conservative health care forward, and stressed that chiropractic abandon its “causal reasoning” and develop a more scientific and hypothetical approach (1). This prompted research in the field, and provided sound evidence from which chiropractic earned its position in the health care field.
The practice of chiropractic began in Canada as early as 1902, and since there were no Canadian colleges at this time, most chiropractors were educated in the United States (3). Canadian chiropractic education was established in 1909 with the opening of Robbins Chiropractic Institute (RIC), in Sault Ste. Marie (3). This institution upheld itself for 4 years before its closure in 1914 (3). Following its closure, the next institution, the Canadian Chiropractic College was established in Hamilton Ontario, later moving to Toronto and changing its name to Toronto Chiropractic College (3). Chiropractic in Canada came to a halt between 1926-1945, as its institutions were labeled inadequate in the eyes of the Abraham Flexner’s landmark report on medical school in North America (3). It is said that the graduates from the three colleges that ended in 1926 are responsible for the change in legislation and the formation of the current Canadian chiropractic colleges today.