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Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, Published April 21 2012

Hunter Halgrimson: 100 years of ND chiropractors

Fargo - This month marks the 100th anniversary of the North Dakota Chiropractic Association. The group will celebrate the occasion by meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn April 27-29.

North Dakota has a long history with chiropractic medicine. In 1915, it became the first state to institute a license for chiropractors. And in 1955, Dr. Claude A. Henderson of Mandan was elected president of the National Chiropractic Association.

But while North Dakota has its chiropractic connections, the discipline was founded in Iowa.

That’s where Dr. Daniel David Palmer was studying the cause and effect of disease when he performed the first recorded chiropractic adjustment in 1895.

Palmer had a theory that decreased nerve flow could be the cause of disease and that misplaced spinal vertebrae might cause pressure on nerves. He thought that if the spinal column were correctly aligned, the body would be healthy.

A patient of Dr. Palmer gave the name “chiropractic” to the art and science of manipulation by combining the Greek words for “hand,” cheiros, and “done by,” pracktos, meaning “done by hand.”

In 1897 the Palmer Infirmary and Chiropractic Institute was opened in Davenport, Iowa. It was later renamed the Palmer School of Chiropractic and has since grown into one of the nation’s most respected schools of chiropractic sciences.

Chiropractic care, itself, didn’t always have that type of respect, even in North Dakota.

A Forum story in April 1940 read, “Use Of Title ‘Dr.’ By Chiropractors In N.D. Ruled Out.”

The article stated, “North Dakota chiropractic physicians may not prefix their signatures with ‘Dr.’ without the designation of chiropractor, the attorney general’s office ruled Tuesday. In an opinion to John W. Payne of Crosby, secretary of the state board of chiropractic examiners, Assistant Attorney General Milton K. Higgins said Chiropractors may, however, use the title ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ or the letters ‘D. C.’ after their signatures.”

Years later, in 1955, the chiropractors in Fargo and Moorhead organized as the F-M Chiropractic Association. The group’s officers were Dr. H.H. Were, Dr. William S. Maki, Dr. Jennie M. Parnell and Dr. Odean Askland.

Askland and his brother Thomas became two of the more prominent chiropractors in the state, mostly because of their mother.

The brothers, whose family lived in Reeder, N.D., but moved to Fargo in 1946, chose their career after witnessing their mother’s experiences with severe back pain that sent her to a medical doctor. She was given liniment, which didn’t help. After undergoing chiropractic treatment, her pain was relieved. The Askland’s sister also became a chiropractor, married one and has a nephew who also practices.

Odean died in 2009, but his brother Thomas is still living, along with their medical legacy.

Thomas, a graduate of Fargo Central High School, attended North Dakota State University to complete a two-year pre-chiropractic requirement before entering the Palmer School of Chiropractic for four years.

Thomas Askland practiced in Wahpeton for 10 years before coming to Fargo in 1968. He and his brother built the first specifically designed, freestanding chiropractic clinic in the state in 1969 and practiced together for 25 years. Their clinic was located at 2800 South University Drive.

By 1978, 15 chiropractic clinics were operating in the Cass-Clay area. At that time, the Asklands were asked how they explained the growth. They said it was due to one thing: “acceptance by the public.”

While the public may have become more accepting over the years, medical insurance companies and the American Medical Association, were not.

In 1987, after an 11-year court battle between four chiropractors and the AMA, a U.S. district judge ruled that the AMA was guilty of trying to undermine the profession of chiropractic and a judge imposed an injunction to stop such activities.

After the North Dakota legislature had refused in five earlier sessions to enact legislation to provide medical coverage for chiropractic services, they mandated that Blue Cross Blue Shield must do so in 1989.

In 1990, the Askland brothers sold their clinic to Dr. Kent Yohe. Thomas retired in 1993.

At 80, Thomas is still interested in the world of chiropractic, and he plans to attend the North Dakota Chiropractic Association’s 100th anniversary meeting.

Sources: Dr. Thomas Askland, Forum files, www.becomehealthynow.com/article/chirohistory/591/