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.”