Dynamic Chiropractic - April 25, 1990, Volume 08, Issue 09

Page printed from:

Chiropractors -- Do They Help?

By -- Merrijoy Kelner, Oswald Hall, Ian Coulter

Hardcover -- 303 pages

See pages XXX on how to order.

Every once in a while I review something that's been around for a while. Not because there's nothing better to do, but because some things are ageless. Truth is truth and doesn't change with age. This is the reason I've felt compelled to review Chiropractors -- Do They Help? which was published at least ten years ago.

Fortunately, the answer for the question the book's title asks is a resounding YES. But it's not a propaganda type of answer. Instead, it's an answer that results from the cumulative work of three distinguished researchers. You might even say that the book is a mini New Zealand Report with the verbal flourishes of a novel.

The book's introduction is well worth reading by itself and sets the tone of what will follow. If there are any drawbacks, it's because the book was formulated in Canada with much of the research being done there. The impact of the legislation concerning chiropractic is therefore from a Canadian perspective, which is somewhat more restrictive (with some exceptions) than its American counterpart. Also -- and this is a small point -- I dislike my patients being referred to as clients -- that's for lawyers.

Even so, the book is a ringing testimony of chiropractic. It begins appropriately with a chapter on the historical beginnings of the profession painted on the exciting canvas of the healing arts in the latter part of the 1800s. From this extraordinary period of naturopaths, homeopaths, osteopaths, Christian Scientists, and naprapaths emerged chiropractic on the shoulders of a philosophical bull of a man known as D.D. Palmer, to be followed shortly by the entrepreneurial genius of B.J.

After this background the book progresses through the various stages of chiropractic education. The authors admit to their information being obtained primarily from close observations of the educational processes at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, which is fortunate, for CMCC is one of the finer educational institutions in our profession.

With some detail they construct both the didactic and subsequent clinical applications of the schooling at the college. In the section on clinical competences, it tells of one of the students in the clinic who became quite distressed when a patient complained of chest pains when she attained a recumbent position. He leaped to the conclusion that this was not a chiropractic case until a supervising clinician was called in to give a more intensive diagnostic evaluation. Only after the student's fears were allayed sufficiently would he continue. This makes me wonder if we might sometimes emphasize the referral concept a bit too vigorously. Yes -- it's important to know when to refer for the safety of the patient, but in most cases the patient has already been to the medical practitioner without results. It would seem more propitious if we, as a profession, granted ourselves more professional esteem by first referring to specialists within our own discipline before running in panic to "big brother medicine."

The section on specific cases was particularly interesting because it compared a more experienced chiropractor with that of a more recent graduate. The difference in styles and substance of the individual practices made for entertaining reading.

The book is not meant for the chiropractor but rather for his patients and for the general public. With this in mind, I have yet to find a more relevant text, for it goes into the many nuances of our profession with succinct bursts of clarity. No wasted words or phrases are used. The writing is lean and easy to understand.

The book is divided into six parts: 1) Basic Facts, which cover history, statistics and research, as well as what is actually done in the doctor's office. 2) The Making of a Chiropractor, addressing chiropractic education. 3) Practitioner and Patient, containing an excellent section comparing the medical to the chiropractic approach to the general patient population. 4) Running a Practice. 5) The Chiropractor in Society, with a section on the competition between MDs and DCs. and 6) The Patient's Choice, detailing the changing attitudes of the public toward chiropractic.

Throughout the book, you are impressed with the unique and vibrant nature of the profession that not only has survived the onslaughts of organized medicine but thrived and continues to grow. The Postscript and Appendices complete a text that I highly recommend to the serious student. Reading it makes you more aware and even prouder of what you do.