Machines and Tools of Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead

Amman MJ. The Machines and Tools of Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead. Chiropractic History 2007; 27(2):55-58.

ABSTRACT: While important research on the history of chiropractic machines has been published, relatively little attention has been paid to the heterogenous acceptance. Technology’s role in chiropractic split according to the philosophical assertions of straights and mixers; however,
a review of the instruments used by one of the most prominent men in the field, Dr. Clarence S. Gonstead (1898-1978) illustrates that state law played a role. His embrace of machines reflects the profession’s emerging cultural identity toward techno-scientific within legislative
constraints and the pursuit of clinical competency.

COMMENTS: This is the first article by Dr. Amman on Dr. Gonstead for the Chiropractic History association’s journal. As many of you know, Dr. Amman has been working on the definitive biography of Dr. Gonstead, a task he has been pursuing for the past few years.

Dr. Gonstead continually innovated or used the latest technology in the pursuit of helping people through chiropractic. In his second office, he had new innovations like air conditioning and intercom system. If he was still practicing today, he probably would have been an early adopter of digital radiology as he had a full spine x-ray machine developed, the Viking x-ray machine which Dr. Amman discusses.

An important analytical tool in the Gonstead technique is instrumentation. Dr. Gonstead initially used the Palmer neurocalometer. In his search for a better instrument, he came upon the Electronic Development Laboratory, Inc. Nervo-Scope, which was developed in the 1940s. The Nervo-Scope, and the more recently developed, Delta-T, are cornerstones of the Gonstead analysis for vertebral subluxations.

Dr. Gonstead embraced the split-screen, full spine x-ray screens which optimizes exposure of the varying body densities onto the film. He helped to promote its use in the profession.

The most important tool developed was the “Gonstead set” of tables. Palmer had a knee chest table (many called it the “belly duster”). Gonstead refined the table after contracting a cabinet maker in 1924. In 1925, the cervical chair came about. The pelvic bench was designed in 1928. Also developed was the “Gonstead modifications” to the Zenith Hy-Lo table.

In the new Gonstead Clinic, Dr. Gonstead had a lab built for urine and blood analysis. He took baseline and post-care measurements. It was also used to rule out serious diseases.

Also mentioned were a few other instruments used at the Clinic that did not receive widespread use.

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