It all started 111 years ago with one patient willing to allow Daniel David Palmer to put his research to the test.

In an office at the corner of 2nd and Brady streets, Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment on Sept. 18, 1895, to a janitor with a hearing defect. The successful realignment of his vertebrae started a profession that has gained recognition through the medical community as a viable treatment for patients with back pain, among other ailments.

About 75 faculty, staff and students at Palmer College of Chiropractic gathered Tuesday morning at the Davenport campus for the school’s annual “Founder’s Day” to celebrate Palmer’s discovery.

“When you stop to think of the event itself and its magnitude, it’s pretty significant,” said Mickey Burt, the chief of Palmer’s alumni group and a 1973 graduate. “It went from one patient — one person — and has grown into a health-care discipline. The impact we have today on health-care is phenomenal.”

Two years after Palmer’s first adjustment, he founded the nation’s first chiropractic college program in Davenport. Since then, Palmer College has expanded to include three campuses that enrolls more than 2,400 students and has taken a leading role in the evolution of chiropractic. Almost 33 percent of the world’s 75,000 chiropractors graduated from Palmer. 

Donald Kern, president of Palmer, spoke briefly to those in attendance about the significance of Founders Day, saying it commemorates an event that has impacted millions of people’s lives. Burt is one of those people.

He decided to go into the profession after he started suffering from severe upper back and neck pain that progressed into a loss of movement in his left leg. Within a year of receiving continuous chiropractic care, the problems were corrected, allowing him to break a high school track record.

“Chiropractic is at a crossroads from being considered alternative health care to mainstream health care,” Burt said. “Every single chiropractic college that is out there today you can trace their roots to Palmer.”

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Sheena Dooley can be contacted at (563)383-2363 or sdooley@qctimes.com.

First Adjustment

It all started in an office at 2nd and Brady streets in downtown Davenport in 1895. Daniel David Palmer gave the first chiropractic adjustment to a janitor with a hearing defect.