In September of 1895, the founder of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer—more commonly known as D.D. Palmer—is credited with making the first recorded chiropractic adjustment in history.
It was Harvey Lillard, a man who, after spending 17 years of his life deaf, was finally able to hear “quite well” after just two chiropractic treatment sessions according a testimonial reprinted by Palmer College of Chiropractic.
Apparently, it was an injury to Lillard’s spine that had left him unable to hear sounds, an injury that was corrected by Dr. Palmer’s new chiropractic technique.
Now, Palmer College makes it a point to honor D.D. Palmer annually as the founder of chiropractic. They call it Chiropractic Founders Day and this celebration has taken place for more than one hundred years, both at the college and by chiropractic professionals everywhere.
Who is D.D. Palmer?
Palmer College shares that D.D. Palmer was born in 1845 in the Toronto, Canada area. Though he is well-known for his creation of the chiropractic profession, Palmer worked in various jobs before this, some of which included grocer, fruit farmer, school teacher, and beekeeper.
At some point though, D.D. Palmer started doing research on health and disease and, in 1885, a full decade before the first recorded adjustment, he took what he learned and opened a magnetic healing practice. In fact, it was this practice that was in the building that Lillard was contracted to clean as the owner of a janitorial business.
Two years after treating Lillard, Palmer expanded his contributions to chiropractic and started teaching what he knew to others. The school was located in Davenport, Iowa and was named Palmer School and Cure.
A family tradition
One of Palmer’s earliest students was his son, Bartlett Joshua (B.J.), DC. Whereas D.D. was known as the founder of chiropractic, B.J. was soon coined the developer of chiropractic, and one of the first things he did was incorporate his father’s school and change the name to Palmer School of Chiropractic.
Even B.J.’s family took part in the family chiropractic business. His wife, Mabel Heath Palmer (who was also a Palmer graduate), was a faculty member and the school’s treasurer and, after B.J. died in 1961, his presidency over the school was handed down to his son David Daniel Palmer, DC.
David, or Dr. Dave as he was called, became known as ‘The Educator’ at the school and renamed it yet again, this time to Palmer College of Chiropractic. It was under Dr. Dave’s leadership that the college became accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (1979) and the North Central Association of Colleges in Schools (1984).
Like B.J., Dr. Dave’s family has also taken an active role in Palmer College, with all of his daughters serving on the board. One daughter specifically, Vickie Anne Palmer (called ‘the refiner of chiropractic’), served as chair when Palmer acquired another school, the North California College of Chiropractic.
Located in San Jose, California, this institution became Palmer’s West Campus. Since that time, Palmer has opened another campus, this one in Port Orange, Florida, which is adjacent to Daytona Beach.
Vickie Anne Palmer, D.D.’s great-granddaughter, still serves on the board today as secretary general and a member of the Executive Committee. Her two sisters and Dr. Dave’s other two daughters—Bonnie Palmer McCloskey and Jenny Wren Palmer Sutton, HCD (Hon.)—have taken part in the growth of the school as well, both in various capacities.
While D.D. Palmer and his family can be credited with making a huge impact within the chiropractic profession, advances in the field are still being made today.
For instance, in May of 2018, JAMA Network Open published a study conducted on U.S. military service members. This particular piece of research was conducted over the course of approximately three-and-a-half years and involved 750 active duty military personnel with low back pain.
After six weeks of treatment, the group which received chiropractic care in addition to medical care had reduced pain intensity and disability in their backs than when compared to subjects who had only medical care during this same length of time.
Thus, researchers concluded that using the two treatment methods together can provide short-term improvements.
Another 2018 study, this one published in the Chiropractic Journal of Australia, involved an 18-year-old male cricketer who had lower limb neuropathy for a period of two years, causing him pain in the foot, leg, and low back. Though 13 months of physical therapy didn’t provide relief, chiropractic using Torque Release Technique and Activator Method did.
Where will the chiropractic go from here? It’s hard to say. But it likely wouldn’t have come this far if it weren’t for D.D. Palmer, his son, and grandchildren. So, a safe and happy Chiropractic Founders Day celebration is wished for them all.