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Template:Infobox scientistAndrew Taylor Still (August 6, 1828 - December 12, 1917) is considered the father of osteopathy.[1]

Early life[]

Still was born in Lee County, Virginia in 1828, the son of a Methodist minister and physician. At an early age, Still decided to follow in his father's footsteps as a physician. After studying medicine and serving an apprenticeship under his father, Still became a licensed Doctor of Medicine. He went on to serve as a surgeon with the U.S. Army during the Civil War.

After the Civil War and following the death of three of his children from spinal meningitis in 1864, Still concluded that the orthodox medical practices of his day were frequently ineffective and sometimes harmful. He devoted the next ten years of his life to studying the human body and finding alternative ways to treat disease. During this period, he completed a short course in medicine at the new College of Physicians and Surgeons in Kansas City, Missouri in 1870.[1]



Still was known for his staff and boots, which were used as protection against snakes

During the latter part of the 19th century, the germ theory of disease was being developed and gaining wide acceptance throughout most of the world. Still rejected such scientific research and opposed the use of drugs and vaccination and opined that “disease is the result of anatomical abnormalities followed by physiological discord.”[2] Still believed that by correcting problems in the body's structure and restoring normal blood supply, through the use of manual techniques now known as Osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), the body's ability to function and to heal itself could be restored and cure all maladies.

He also promoted the idea of preventive medicine and philosophy that physicians should focus on treating the whole patient, rather than just the disease. He became so skilled at manipulating musculoskeletal dysfunctions that he became known as the "Lightning Bone Setter", and billed himself as such distributing business cards with the title.[3]

At the time, these beliefs formed the basis of a new medical approach known as Osteopathy. Based on this philosophy, Still founded the first school of osteopathy - the American School of Osteopathy (now A.T. Still University) in Kirksville, Missouri in 1892.[2]


  1. Gevitz, Norman. The DOs: Osteopathic Medicine in America, 2nd Ed. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 2004.
  2. Carol Trowbridge, Andrew Taylor Still, 1828-1917. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press1991.

External links[]

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