Osteopathy Awareness Week - 14th to 18th April 2013
16th April 2013
Osteopathy Awareness Week
This week from the 14th April to 18th April 2013 is Osteopathy Awareness Week. The aim of this week is to educate the general public as well as fellow health care providers, about Osteopathy and the many conditions that it can help people with.
While Osteopathy generally sits along side Physiotherapy and Chiropractic in the area of 'manual therapy', it is often not known about or not fully understood by those who may benefit from an Osteopathic treatment. This lack of knowledge about Osteopathy stems back a long time and probably due to several factors over the last 140 years.
I've come across a few patients before who are under the misconception that Osteopathy is a new form of manual therapy when compared to Physiotherapy and Chiropractic, that's why they haven't heard of it before. This couldn't be further from the truth!
The Beginnings of Osteopathy
Andrew Taylor Still (A.K.A the 'Father of Osteopathy') began practicing Osteopathy way back in 1874 and founded the first school of Osteopathy in 1892. Chiropractic medicine was founded 21 years after Andrew Taylor Still began practicing Osteopathy, in 1895. Some say that the founder of Chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer was actually a student of Andrew Taylor Still who didn't necessarily agree with all the philosophies of Osteopathy, so he started his own school with his own ideas - although this is debated. The first record of Physiotherapy dates back to the early 1800's, with the first account of an official Physiotherapy registration being in 1887.
Andrew Taylor Still - Father of Osteopathy
What I find interesting is that despite coming about more than 2 decades after Osteopathy, there are almost 3 times as many Chiropractors in Australia as there are Osteopaths (4200 to 1500 respectively). Physiotherapy has boomed over a similar timeframe and now has 15 times the amount of Physiotherapists (23 301 in 2012) than there are Osteopaths.
Who Even Knows What an Osteopath Is?
The title 'Chiropractor' is very much synonymous with headaches, neck pain, back pain and posture and when you think of a Physiotherapist, the things which tend to spring in to peoples minds are sporting injuries, back pain, rehabilitation etc.
As most Osteopaths would tell you, when informing someone of what you do who has never been to an Osteopath before, some of the more common responses include 'what's that?', taking a stab & guessing that we are a 'bone doctor' or just staring blankly until we explain that we are sort of like a Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor, but different.
Going back a few years ago I spent some time working in a local medical centre with 6 GP's. The Osteopathic clinic had been there for 2 years with 4 Osteopathic practitioners, and we didn't need to advertise as all of our patients were sent to us via the GP's. I couldn't have been more shocked when one day I came across a patient who'd been advised to seek out a Physiotherapist for a common shoulder complaint, because the doctor was unaware that Osteopaths could treat shoulder injuries.
If someone doesn't know what an Osteopath is or what we treat, they're not to blame. Osteopaths as a whole have to take ownership for this lack of information in the community and take steps to educate others about our fantastic profession and what it can do for others. This is what Osteopathy Awareness Week is all about.
Over the next few days I’ll post some more information regarding Osteopathy, how it differs form other manual therapists and the kinds of complaints and conditions that we can help people with.
In the meantime visit the Australian Osteopathic Association to learn more about Osteopathy and Osteopathy Awareness Week.
By Rhys Donovan
Owner and Osteopath of Biomechanics Healthcare
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