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First chiropractic adjustment

1895 — On September 18, D. D. Palmer performs the first-ever chiropractic adjustment on Harvey Lillard, a deaf janitor, in Davenport, Iowa.

Palmer describes the incident in his 1910 The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic: The Chiropractor’s Adjuster:

“Harvey Lillard, a janitor in the Ryan Block, where I had my office, had been so deaf for 17 years that he could not hear the racket of a wagon on the street or the ticking of a watch. I made inquiry as to the cause of his deafness and was informed that when he was exerting himself in a cramped, stooping position, he felt something give in his back and immediately became deaf. An examination showed a vertebra racked from its normal position. I reasoned that if that vertebra was replaced, the man’s hearing should be restored. With this object in view, a half-hour’s talk persuaded Mr. Lillard to allow me to replace it. I racked it into position by using the spinous process as a lever and soon the man could hear as before. There was nothing “accidental” about this, as it was accomplished with an object in view, and the result expected was obtained. There was nothing crude about this adjustment; it was specific, so much so that no Chiropractor has equaled it.”

Other versions of this story have been documented by Willard Carver, a chiropractor and D. D. Palmer’s attorney, and Bobby Westbrooks, who interviewed Lillard’s daughter Valdeenia Simons.

REFERENCES

• Moore, J. Stuart. Chiropractic in America: The History of a Medical Alternative, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993.

• Peterson, Dennis and Wiese, Glenda. Chiropractic: An Illustrated History, Mosby, 1995.

• Wardwell, Walter I. Chiropractic: History and Evolution of a Profession, Mosby, 1992.


 
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