A Unique Application

Considering his system, in light of current knowledge, it is surprising that the concept of adjusting the spine only if and when there is a fixation, has not been universally accepted. Gonstead stated in the 1940's, "Therein lies the uniqueness of my work - The Gonstead Technique has a specific application on the affected segment or segments only." His approach is often summarized by the phrase he coined, “Find the subluxation, accept it where you find it, correct it and leave it alone”. The common sense, evident in his work, is further summarized in another phrase that he often used: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

More on the Gonstead system: Logan Chiro Article.

Safety First (Above All, Do No Harm)

It is also interesting to note that because of his detailed study of the spine, he taught that rotation or twisting of the spine during the chiropractic adjustment was harmful to the patient. Current Chiropractic, Osteopathic, and Medical literature links the twisting of the spine to accelerated degeneration of the cushion pad, or disc, located between the spinal bones. The twisting motion associated with crude methods of "manipulating" the neck or cervical spine has also been implicated as the major factor in the rare incidence of stroke associated with chiropractic "treatment". This tragic occurrence, occasionally reported in scientific literature and the popular press, has diverted attention away from the enormous benefits of properly administered chiropractic care.

One hallmark of the Gonstead Technique is adjustment of the neck with a very specific maneuver that is completed with the patient seated. The neck is adjusted in this manner to eliminate the twisting or rotation aspect of the adjusting procedure. In the 1990's, the Gonstead Technique is recognized throughout the global chiropractic community as one of the safest systems of evaluating and caring for conditions related to the spine.


However, there was much more to Dr Gonstead's success than his innate ability to assist patients in the healing process. Dr. Gonstead was an exceptionally giving and caring man. This excerpt from his biography, The Master's Touch, best embodies his character: "For those who were bedridden, he would make house calls after hours. He would tell his patients not to wait up, that he would just knock on the door, or the window, when he arrived.

His wife, Elvira, drove the car on the after-hour rounds, allowing Gonstead to catnap. On such rounds, during the polio epidemic of the 1940's, Elvira shoveled snow, getting as close to the farmhouses as possible, while her husband would catch up on his sleep. Then Gonstead would wade on to the house, sometimes staying all night trying to break a fever, ease the pain, and end suffering." It is said that he never lost a patient to paralysis during the polio epidemic of the 1940's. Gonstead practiced the advice he taught his students; "Don't go to bed on the same day you wake up on". He worked such long hours that he would change his shoes twice a day. He also claimed that eight hours was half a Norwegian work day.

His deep compassion, extensive knowledge of the spine, and uncanny ability to focus intensely on each patient, helped to build an international reputation that resulted in days when he would see over 200 patients. When asked what his secret was, he would say, "No secret, just lots of satisfied patients." In 1964, he built the largest chiropractic clinic in the world. Located in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin (population 1,400), the Gonstead Clinic had a reception area seating over one hundred people that often times was filled to capacity. In order to house the patients and doctors who traveled the long distances to take advantage of his expertise, Dr. Gonstead built a full service motel next to the clinic. The Karakahl Inn, now a Best Western property, has a restaurant, pool and saunas to provide a relaxing atmosphere for patients under care.

The Gonstead System Continues

Although the world suffered a great loss when Dr. Gonstead passed away in 1978, he had the foresight to pass his life work, Seminar organization, and the entire Gonstead Clinic complex on to Drs. Alex and Doug Cox. The Cox brothers had studied, practiced, and taught with Dr. Gonstead for over ten years. They had completed an intense apprenticeship during which they were able to clarify, document and systematize the Gonstead System of chiropractic. With the assistance of Dr. Raymond Clinton, Dr. John Cox, Dr. William Droessler, and Dr. James Stoenner, they now lead the Gonstead Seminars that are taught through out the USA and around the world.

What Is The Gonstead Clinical Studies Society?

In 1979, seven doctors, who had attended numerous Gonstead Seminars, formed the Gonstead Clinical Studies Society (GCSS). Their purpose was to certify the skill level of chiropractors claiming to use the Gonstead Technique and conduct research to test his ideas. An ongoing research program, to improve the quality of drug free chiropractic care, is directed by the renowned, Dr. Gregory Plaugher.

The GCSS has developed a College of Fellows to oversee "quality control" of Gonstead Chiropractors. The GCSS also certifies Gonstead Chiropractors through a Diplomate program that is concluded with a rigorous two day testing procedure. Gonstead Chiropractors who have achieved Diplomate status must complete an annual peer reviewed case presentation and skill assessment to maintain current Diplomate status.

The GCSS has been instrumental in the creation of two fully referenced textbooks that have been published by Williams and Wilkins. Textbook of Clinical Chiropractic; A Specific Biomechanical Approach, a "90's" update of Dr. Gonstead's work, was released in 1993 and has become a chiropractic best seller. This textbook is used in many chiropractic colleges and is a reference text for the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Pediatric Chiropractic, released in April of 1998, was co-edited by GCSS Past President, Dr. Claudia Anrig, and GCSS Research Director, Dr. Gregory Plaugher. This is a landmark text in that it is the first chiropractic textbook concerning the chiropractic analysis and care of children.

GCSS has become an umbrella organization for an increasing number of international and U.S. Regional chapters. The GCSS supports Gonstead Study Clubs, helping students in the various chiropractic colleges around the world master the basics of specific chiropractic care.

This material was taken from the Gonstead Clinical Studies Society Web site www.gonstead.com

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