A Profession Seeking Clinical Competency

From the April 2009 The Scope Chiropractic History, Winter 2008; 28(2):81-90

ABSTRACT: The Palmer School of Chiropractic was in a clinical conundrum after the death of its iconoclastic leader B.J. Palmer. The school had left full-spine chiropractic in the 1930s when Palmer perpetuated his upper-cervical Hole-In-One Technique. In 1961, the Gonstead Chiropractic Technique resurrected at the flagship school and became the cornerstone of the school’s technique curriculum. This paper reviews the history of this name-brand chiropractic technique to add to our understanding of early chiropractic education.

COMMENTS: Dr. Amman has done extensive research into the life of Dr. Gonstead for a biography that he has written but is seeking a publisher for. His research has allowed him to write articles that have been published in the Chiropractic History journal. In the 1930s, B.J. Palmer insisted that only HIO be taught at Palmer. Clinical competency, i.e., patient outcomes, became problematic, and many graduates ended up learning other techniques. Following B.J.s death, the curriculum was reorganized, and the Gonstead techniquebecame a core technique. The Gonstead x-ray listing and marking systems and physical analysis procedures were added. The technique became an official or unofficial part of other chiropractic colleges through the efforts of Gonstead chiropractors. The articles continues with the history of the Gonstead Technique to date.

One important omission is the contribution by Dr. Roger Herbst, the author of the “Gonstead Chiropractic Science & Art.” I talked to Dr. Amman about that. He had considered it, but others told him that they didn’t think it was that important. Personally, I think it was important as Dr. Herbst took unwritten and unorganized clinical information and gave it structure and some scientific basis. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we all go back to what was written in the chapters.

Once Dr. Amman can find a publisher, we can have a well-researched biography of Dr. Gonstead. He put a tremendous amount of time and effort to get as accurate a biography as we will ever get. If you are not a member of the Association for the History of Chiropractic, join! It is a vitally important organization in chiropractic. Their journal gives you an appreciation of our history.