From its small beginnings in the last years of the nineteenth century to the present time there has been a dynamic growth in osteopathy in all its spheres—education, research and practice. In the U.S.A there are in the region of 20,000 fully licensed osteopathic physicians currently in practice. Their training is in all respects equal to that received by medical students in terms of content, standards and requirements.
The emphasis in the osteopathic colleges has, over the years, been towards producing osteopathic practitioners who could practice comprehensive medicine, using orthodox methods as well as the unique osteopathic approach. This has tended to result in a number of osteopathic physicians becoming indistinguishable from orthodox doctors, and many have found it easier to practice 'straight' medicine rather than to employ the methods uniquely associated with osteopathy.
As a result of this trend a group of practitioners dedicated to the preservation and dissemination of the essential fundamentals of osteopathy formed, in 1937, the Academy of Applied Osteopathy. This organization, through its efforts, has been responsible for a resurgence of interest amongst the new generations of practitioners in the methods and philosophy of the original osteopathic pioneers. The Year Books of the Academy provide a treasure-house of information and inspiration for the profession.
It should not be thought, though, that the osteopathic profession has been slavishly tied to the pronouncements of Dr Still. Indeed, as early as 1918, Dr Michael Lane D.O. wrote: 'Many osteopaths, while revering the founder of the new system, have seemed to feel that because Still was right in his grand principles of disease and its therapy, that therefore he should not have been wrong in anything he said about the body and its work in health and disease. But such osteopaths are short-sighted and unwise. If Dr Still had been right in all his theories he would not have not been human.'
In the U.K., where osteopathy has had a very different history from that in the U.S.A., writers and teachers have tried to hold on to the essentials of Still's teaching whilst also being aware of his shortcomings. In 1954 the eminent British osteopath, S. Webster-Jones, describing in a lecture the case of the child with dysentery who Still had treated, said: 'It would be only too easy to ridicule Still's approach to this case, and his idea of moving heat from one part of the body to another. Discredit Still's ideas on physiology, diet, medical diagnosis, as you will, actually they led him back to his patient as a whole, to seek in his body the cause of his illness and to try to remove it. They led him away from that overstudy of local pathology and preoccupation with local and systemic diseases that has led to over-specialization in orthodox medicine, which has had the effect that the patient is often forgotten in the study of disease.'
Osteopathic Colleges in the U.S.A.
In the U.S.A. all states licence graduates of the twelve Colleges, and they are at liberty to practice unlimited medicine after seven years training. The twelve colleges are:
- Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery, Des Moines, Iowa.
- Kansas City College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Oklahoma College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery.
- Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.
- New York College of Osteopathic Medicine.
- New Jersey School of Osteopathic Medicine.