Foundations of Osteopathy


Andrew Taylor Still, MD, DO was the father of osteopathy as well as the founder of the first college of osteopathic medicine.

He was born in Jonesboro, Virginia (now known as Jonesville), on August 6, 1828. His father was both a Methodist minister and physician. Young A. T. Still decided at an early age to follow in his father's footsteps as a physician. As an apprentice physician to his father, he learned both from being at his father's side as well as from the course of study. He later served in the Civil War as a surgeon in the Union Army.

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

It was not until the early 1870s that Dr. Still separated himself from his MD counterparts by his pervasive criticism of the misuse of drugs common to the day. Believing that medicine should offer the patient more, Dr. Still supported a philosophy of medicine different from the practice of his day and in their place he advocated the use of osteopathic manipulative treatment.

Dr. Still founded a philosophy of medicine based on ideas that date back to Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine. The philosophy focuses on the unity of all body parts. He identified the musculoskeletal system as a key element of health. He recognized the body's ability to heal itself and stressed preventive medicine, eating properly, and keeping fit.

Andrew Taylor Still had realised the limitations of conventional medicine at this time, and it is said that this drove him on in his quest to find an alternative system, based on the innate self–healing ability of the body. It is said that, by night, he would visit the graveyards of Indians, and exhume skeletons. Using all the available medical text at the time, over a period of some ten years, he devised a philosophy together with a set of principles, which are the basis of osteopathy, as we know it today.


On May 10, 1892, Dr. Still founded the American School of Osteopathy (now the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine). Dr. Andrew Taylor Still died on December 12, 1917, at the age of 89.

Prince Charles spearheaded the osteopathic cause, which led to statutory registration in 1994, plus degree course status in Osteopathic education. The General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) was formed in 1997, and continues to strive to further educate a population, which is becoming more aware of osteopathy and its remarkable success.