Studies in the Osteopathic
Basic Principles: Volume
Louisa Burns, M.S., D.O., D.Sc.O.
THE EXPERIMENTAL DEMONSTRATION OF THE OSTEOPATHIC CENTERS;
The experiments described in the succeeding chapters were performed upon
animals and human beings. The subjects were young and healthy, for
the most part; when old or unhealthy subjects were employed, the condition
is noted in connection with the experiment. These experiments are
not exhaustive; a great deal more work needs to be done before the possibilities
of investigation in any of the lines here indicated are exhausted.
animals used were anesthetized; they were not permitted to suffer, nor
to regain consciousness after mutilation. Since these studies are
essentially investigations into certain forms of reflex action, the experiments
would be absolutely worthless if the animal were conscious of pain, or
even if it were so frightened or uncomfortable as to struggle. Aside
from any considerations of cruelty, then, it is very essential that no
real discomfort be endured by the animals subjected to experiment.
It is found that surgical anesthesia lessens the reflexes somewhat, but
in many instances this had to be employed. Since the structures concerned
are not changed by the anesthetic, but only the liminal value of the neurons,
it is evident that whatever reactions are secured must indicate a structural
relation of the nerves and centers concerned. On the other hand,
if any reaction does not appear, it may be due either to the absence of
such structural relations as render the reaction possible, or it may be
due to the abnormal conditions of the experiment, or it may be due to the
temporary physiological conditions of the neurons concerned in the reaction.
For these reasons, no great significance is to be placed upon negative
results, unless the experiment is repeated many times under varying conditions.
It is probably that those reflexes which persist under anesthesia are those
which are most persistent under other abnormal conditions. Ether,
chloroform, cocaine, morphine, and ether-alcohol were used to secure either
complete or partial narcosis.
dogs, guinea-pigs, frogs, toads and white rats were used in the series,
-- besides the human subjects. Cats, dogs, and white rats were most
frequently used. All the reactions described were repeated many times,
in order that the possibility of the effect secured being due to some individual
peculiarity of the subject might be eliminated. Some of the reactions
were repeated more than twenty times. Unless otherwise stated, each
reaction was demonstrated upon at least five different subjects.
Many reactions which seemed anomalous, or which were not found constant,
are withheld from publication until they can be subjected to further investigation.
Elimination of Psychical Effects.
human subjects employed were nearly all students of physiology. They
were usually kept in ignorance of the nature of the expected reaction and
the psychical factor was eliminated in every manner possible under the
conditions of the experiment. The students who watched the reactions
were often unaware of the location of the center which was being stimulated,
and they simply noted, independently, the character of the changes which
were occurring. In this manner, the psychical effect of expectation
was largely eliminated. After each experiment, the human subject
was not used again for several hours, in order that the after effects of
one experiment might not possibly affect the next.
changes in blood pressure which were produced by the manipulation of the
centers were measured, in the human subjects, by a modification of the
Riva-Rocci apparatus. This sphygmomanometer was found very exact
and delicate. It is recommended for the use of those who wish to
criticize our results.
sphygmograph was used for the pulse tracings. It was secured upon
the wrist and the normal tracing first taken. The clock work was
stopped during the manipulations and started immediately after the work
was finished. The sphymograph was not removed from the wrist until
the completion of the experiment. In this way any variations of positions,
pressure, etc., were avoided. If the subject were lying down, he
was first permitted to rest until all changes produced by the change of
position had ceased to be manifested by the pulse. If he seemed at
all weary, he was permitted to rest until no further change in pulse or
blood pressure could be detected, before beginning the experiment.
Kymograph and Tambour.
The respiratory curves were taken with Marey’s tambour. An extra
tambour pan was placed over the apex beat of the heart, in order that the
cardiac and respiratory waves might be represented upon a single curve.
The needle of the tambour played upon a smoked paper upon the revolving
drum of the kymograph. The speed of the kymograph was carefully regulated.
The apparatus was not changed during the experiment. The curves as
registered by these instruments were varnished and from these tracings
the cuts used in illustrating the work were made.
direct stimulation of the viscera of animals was effected by means of electricity.
A Du Bois-Raymond induction coil supplied the electrodes. The current
was not measured, but was kept very weak. It was usually not perceptible
to the touch, though sometimes it was increased. Pricking and pinching
the viscera were found rather unsatisfactory unless the stimulation was
applied directly to the interior of the viscus under experiment.
The injury to the viscus necessitated by the direct application of the
pricking to its interior was evaded by using electricity. The electrical
current penetrates the walls of the viscera readily, and was found very
satisfactory. The stimulation of the visceral walls by electricity
is, of course, a condition never found in life, but the abnormal stimulation
of the visceral walls by inflammation or by the presence of abnormal substances
within the visceral cavities, or in the blood and lymph, is not unusual.
The reactions produced by the electrical stimulation depend upon the existence
of certain permeable pathways through the nervous system. The relations
of the osteopathic centers must depend upon the existence of these same
Reflex Muscular Contraction.
electrical stimulation of the viscera initiates the reflex contraction
of certain somatic muscles. The persons who assisted in the experiments
held their fingers along the back of the animal subject, and noted the
contractions in the muscles as they occurred. The reflex contractions
thus produced were recorded, and this information was held suggestive of
the location of the center for the viscera being investigated. The
stimulation of the centers thus located was found to affect the viscera
in connection with them. The electrical stimulation of these centers
was found of very little effect unless the electrodes were placed
upon the deeper muscles or upon the joint surfaces. Stimulation of
the joint surfaces initiated more urgent reflex visceral changes than did
stimulation of any other structures. Stimulation of the skin over
the centers was slightly effective in some instances. Inasmuch as
the skin is normally subject to great variations of temperature and to
irritation from any conditions, especially in the savage state, it is evident
that no great visceral disturbance can be caused by stimulation of the
skin, unless stimuli really injurious or very unusual should be employed.
Mechanical Stimulation and Inhibition.
manipulations given with the fingers were found very effective in nearly
all cases. These manipulations consisted of quick, vibrating movements,
with the fingers between the transverse processes of the vertebrae.
The movements were the more effective the deeper were the tissues stimulated.
Vibration of the skin and superficial tissues was not very effective; stimulation
of the deeper layers of muscles produced greater effects, while such movements
as affected the articular surfaces were most effective of all. This
stimulation affected the viscera in relation with the center in various
manners, which are described in connection with the individual centers.
The Artificial Lesion.
steady pressure upon the same tissues caused an effect to be produced upon
the viscera which was nearly always the reverse of that following stimulation
in the same area. The pressure, or “inhibition” produced the greater
effects the more the joint surfaces were affected. The effects of
the “bony lesion” were secured by holding the vertebrae in positions of
strain. This was usually done by placing the fingers of one hand
on opposite sides of the vertebral spines and exerting as much pressure
as possible. It is needless to say that this procedure requires both
strength and skill on the part of the operator. In the accounts of
the experiments given in the following chapters this manipulation is called,
for the sake of brevity, the “artificial lesion.” The effects of
the artificial lesion are usually the same as the effects of inhibition
in the same area, but under abnormal circumstances there are some differences
in the nature of the effects produced by these manipulations.
The Aim of This Work.
ends sought in planning these experiments were as follows: We hoped
to demonstrate, in an undeniable manner, the structural and functional
relations underlying the principles of osteopathic therapeutics and diagnosis.
hoped to locate the osteopathic centers more exactly by eliminating the
complexity of abnormalities which are almost invariably present in clinic
hoped to locate other centers whose recognition might aid in making osteopathic
diagnosis more exact and osteopathic therapeutics more effective.
ends have not been attained in as great a degree as is possible.
The series is to be extended indefinitely. It is hoped that the publication
of such results as have been attained will be of some value to students
and physicians, both as indicative of the possibilities of experimental
research and of careful clinical records, as well as a proof of the truth
and the strength of the principles of osteopathic diagnosis and therapeutics.
A.—Some of the facts noted in the dissection of the many cats and dogs
killed in these experiments may be suggestive.
pug dog killed was diseased The fatter they were the more abnormal
were the organs. The fattest dog I ever saw was one of these pugs.
There was not a normal viscus in the whole body.
and cats which are sick enough to attract attention were always found diseased
the cases of sick animals, muscular contractions were found as often as
tests were made for them. These areas of reflex muscular contraction
were hypersensitive, also. After these “animal clinic examinations”
as we called them, the animals were anesthetized and killed. The
viscera affected were always those determined by the “clinic examinations.”
There were not so very many of these experiments, and hence many of the
points involved in them are reserved for further investigations into the
pathology of osteopathic centers.
animal condemned to death because of a bad temper, etc., was found diseased.
The liver was the usual seat of disease for ill-tempered animals, both
cats and dogs, but in several instances the brain was affected. In
one case of extreme emaciation in a kitten the ovaries were found very
cystic. Another kitten, apparently perfectly healthy, had cystic
to which domestic animals are subject resemble those of their masters.
The presence of tuberculosis among so many of them is a dangerous condition,
especially where they are pets of children. Pets should be very carefully
watched, and no considerations of sentiment should be permitted to prevent a
painless death for the pet found diseased. Temporary sickness, as from
over eating, may not be fatal, but the presence of a mastoid abscess, for example,
with its drippings of infected pus, or the wheezing breath of tuberculosis,
or any discharge from any of the orifices of the body, should indicate a very
hasty and merciful execution. Persistent sore eyes and nasal catarrh should
be held capital offenses.