Saturday, February 20, 2010

A New Twist on the Neurocalometer Story

Spotted an interesting article on the ChiroUnity blog about the history of the Neurocalometer instrument, focusing largely on the behind-the-scenes interaction between Frank Elliot (then Registrar of the PSC), BJ Palmer and Dossa Evins (inventor of the NCM). A new twist on an old story!

Find the article in its entirety here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Architecture and Chiropractic - The C.S. Gonstead Home & Clinic

Two of my favorite subjects in one post! In addition to having the world's largest chiropractic clinic for many years and a true chiropractic champion, Dr. Clarence Gonstead of Mt. Horeb, WI was a supporter of modern architecture through his home and the building of his clinics.

Dr. Gonstead established his first practice over the bank building on Main Street in Mt. Horeb in 1923. In 1939, he built his first standalone office building, also in Mt. Horeb. You can see in the photos below that the building was modern for the times, almost in a Bauhaus style:

Dr. Gonstead had a rather amazing house for a little farming community in Wisconsin, too. It is unclear to me when the home was built, but Dr. Gonstead hired Herb Fritz, Jr., an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, to build his home sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's, by my guess. The original grounds for the home was 55 acres and included the main home, pool house and an attached guest house that was added to the property in 1952. The home burned down in 1992, but the guest cottage remained and has been restored and is available for guests to stay in today. The main residence was also restored and is lived in by the folks who rent out the guest cottage. According to many online sources, it is a crown jewel of "Prairie Modern" architecture and has an incredible, organic feel that must be experienced to believe. The home is pictured below, circa 1954:
Some current photos of the guest cottage as it appears today are below:

Some photos of the main residence are below (I am unsure if the home was restored in the same style as the original Gonstead home, or if modifications were made, but it is still in Wright's Prairie Style:

It was in 1964 that Dr. Gonstead opened his gigantic 19,000 square feet practice on the outskirts of Mt. Horeb. This practice had capacity for 108 patients in the reception room, and the chairs were full most of the time. An aerial view of the Gonstead Clinic shows the clinic itself, in the foreground, as well as the Karakhal Inn, which was also owned by Dr. Gonstead, along the upper part of the photo:
Another aerial view of the Gonstead Clinic:
This clinic was designed by Wisconsin architect, John Steinmann. While not in the Prairie Style of the Gonstead residence and guest home, the clinic and inn were certainly of a modern style indicative of the "midcentury modern" architecture of the 1950's and 1960's. 

Gonstead was an incredible chiropractor, but the overlap of cutting edge architecture and his career were fascinating to me, and I hope to you, too!

Monday, February 8, 2010

What Not To Do

In the mid-1910's (sorry, the exact date escapes me), BJ Palmer published a book called An Exposition of Old Moves which was a guide of sorts containing photos and descriptions of a lot of popular "adjustments" that, in BJ's opinion, should no longer be used. Some of them are clearly borrowed from an old-school bonesetting tradition. In the 1910's, Palmer had developed the Palmer Toggle Recoil adjustment, which was more specific, as well as more precise means of finding subluxations, so BJ felt these "old moves" were too lacking in specificity or even downright dangerous. Here are a few of my favorite photos from the book:

In the last photo, BJ is demonstrating an old way of performing a straight-arm adjustment and adding "oomph" to the adjustment by placing a bag full of lead shot on his neck/shoulders! Boy, things have come a looooong way since then!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

1922 - Isn't It Funny?

I recently obtained a PDF copy of the 1922 Palmer School of Chiropractic's supply catalog and it is a wealth of interesting things for the history buff! I found a bunch of stuff in there that is in my own collection, which I will be photographing and sharing soon. For now, here is something neat from the back cover (click on the picture to make it bigger!). I especially love the last line, which reads, "If your business isn't good enough to advertise, advertise it for sale." LOL

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Origins of Sacro-Occipital Technic (SOT)

Sacro-Occipital Technic, or SOT, is one of the oldest chiropractic techniques still being used today and has a fascinating historical record thanks to the copious amounts of publishing its founder, Dr. M. B. DeJarnette, did.

At a time when chiropractic was largely based on the concept of a bone that has misaligned and is putting pressure on a nerve, DeJarnette stood out like a sore thumb because he was looking at the nervous system and its effects on the human body quite independently of the vertebral system. On a constant ongoing basis Dr. DeJarnette added to, subtracted from, and altered his technique based on his research findings from his very unusual practice (more on this story another time).

The overarching theme to SOT is the idea that doing different things to the body will result in stimulation and inhibition of various functions via the nervous system. As such, he and BJ had no love lost between them, but DeJarnette was nothing if not focused in his attempt to improve chiropractic and take it beyond the idea of a bone squishing a nerve! SOT encompasses a variety of procedures including vertebral adjusting, reflex manipulation, soft tissue and extremity work, cranial adjusting and even visceral manipulation, all in a systematized approach to correct subluxations and normalize function in the body.

How "The Major" set off down this path is an interesting story in and of itself. While DeJarnette was a student at the Nebraska Chiropractic College (now defunct) in Lincoln, NE, he had a classmate who had to drop out because of a debilitating heart condition. As a senior student, DeJarnette was sent to this man's home to adjust him and see if he could be enrolled back in classes. One of the symptoms affecting this student was extreme pain in the left arm and shoulder (probably referred from the heart), and DeJarnette said that as a student, he hardly knew what to do for this guy, so he put a hot compress on his shoulder in an attempt to relieve some of his discomfort.

According to DeJarnette's story, this caused the man to pass out! Thinking he'd killed his former classmate, DeJarnette filled a pail with cold water and doused the man, which revived him immediately. Later, the man said his shoulder felt a little better! Over the course of several weeks, DeJarnette went to his rooms and alternated warm and cold compresses, and steadily over time his shoulder pain disappeared and his heart condition improved!

Eventually the man was able to come back to the college and graduated, practicing chiropractic for several decades in Nebraska. As DeJarnette related the story, he was congratulated heartily by the students and faculty at the college, and was "big man on campus" for some time, so he never had the heart to tell anyone there he had never, in fact, adjusted the student, simply used hot and cold in a specific way and somehow this stimulated or inhibited the right functions and helped his classmate!

In his 1958 book on the history of SOT, DeJarnette said, “I became obsessed with the idea that what we did to the spine in adjusting did not produce results because we moved a vertebra and removed nerve pressure, but because we either applied stimuli or inhibition.”