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History of Osteopathy


With his experiences in the civil war and after a meningitis epidemic struck in Missouri in 1864, Dr. Andrew Taylor Still lost 3 of his children. Dr. Still was trained in allopathic medicine, but he was unable to fight the disease effectively. He began looking for a new medical model – a safe, effective way to treat patients. Dr. Still spent 10 years studying health and disease in the context of human anatomy. The main concepts of modern osteopathy are a result of his work.

Dr. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy (ASO) in 1892. The first class had 12 male students and 3 female students. Allowing women to participate was revolutionary at the time. In the first 18 years of the school, approximately one-fifth of the students were women. A few Canadians (including some who were already medical doctors) travelled to the United States to learn Osteopathy. They returned to Canada to practice Osteopathy here.

”To find health should be the object of the doctor. Anyone can find disease.” –     Dr. A. T. Still D.O


By this time, the ASO was graduating 300 students a year. Alumni of the school were practicing Osteopathy across the United States, Canada, and Europe. All states in the United States recognize Osteopathic physicians.


The first Osteopathic medical school in London, England was pioneered by one of Still’s students John Martin Littlejohn. They were (and still are) restricted to practicing manual Osteopathy.  In 2000, Osteopathic therapy became a regulated profession and title, protected by law.  

 Osteopathy spread to other countries in Europe. In each country, Osteopaths have worked to gain official recognition. There are both Osteopaths and Osteopathic physicians in Europe today. Osteopathy has also spread to Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Israel, Russia, and Brazil.


A group of health practitioners in Quebec invited Philippe Druelle, an Osteopath from France, to teach Osteopathy in Quebec. This led to the development of the College d’Etudes Osteopathiques (CEO). A part-time program was developed and includes 5 years of clinical and academic study in Osteopathic theory and techniques. Health care practitioners such as (but not limited to) Physiotherapists, Athletic Therapists and Massage Therapists study osteopathy as continuing education. There are now campuses in Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto and Halifax.  A second school the Canadian Academy of Osteopathy is located in Hamilton and Toronto


The World Health Organization (WHO) established the benchmarks for Osteopathic training. This document has become the standard world wide for osteopathic training and acknowledges various streams.


The Osteopathy International Alliance (OIA) (CFO is an affiliate member) is admitted into official relations with the World Health Organization as an NGO. Since the OIA was established in 2003 it has had an active role working with WHO to develop the Benchmarks for Training in Osteopathy, supporting WHO policies and programs, advising on matters relative to the osteopathic profession, and attendance at annual and other meetings.



Osteopathy—Treat the Cause, Not the Symptoms


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