Chiropractic and Canada
The word of the day for the chiropractic profession, every day, for the last 124 years, has been
schismatic: characterized by or favoring schism., a split or division between strongly opposed sections or parties, caused by differences in opinion or belief*.
On one side of the schism, the opinion is that chiropractic care is a safe, low cost, and effective method of alleviating neck and back pain. On the other side of the schism, the opinion is that chiropractic care is effective for pain relief and also affects the function of the nervous system in ways that are only just beginning to be fully understood and provide new insight into well over a hundred years’ worth of clinically observed, documented, and sometimes dramatic improvement to a surprising variety of physical functions.
In spite of a burgeoning body of scientific evidence that supports over a century’s worth of anecdotal evidence showing that adjusting subluxations improved patients’ physical and neurological functioning, a vocal minority of chiropractors would like to limit the scope of chiropractic practice solely to the treatment of neck and back pain. And then what?
Take eight minutes to hear Dr. Rob Scott, president of Life University, share his alarm that this dangerously limited view of chiropractic is an “intellectually dishonest and misinformed approach to the third largest portal of entry, and I might emphasize, drug-free healthcare profession on the continent…”
To allow those narrow, misinformed interests to achieve regulatory agency over chiropractic in Canada – or anywhere else in the world – serves neither our principles nor the future of our profession.
Scroll down to find a transcript of Dr. Scott’s remarks.
Chiropractic and Canada, Transcript
“Hey, everyone. Dr. Rob Scott here.
You know, there’s been a situation occurring in several countries, but most recently in my homeland of Canada, about chiropractic that is being driven by a very small, narrow, politically focused segment of the profession, but it’s resulting in rapid regulatory changes to the profession all across the country. Regulatory changes that are troubling because they’re based upon misinformation, innuendo, and a frank bias. These regulatory changes that are occurring are significantly limiting what practicing chiropractors are legally permitted to say and do regarding the benefits of chiropractic, the sorts of benefits that for over 124 years, those who have practiced in this profession have witnessed daily in their offices. I’ll say that as the president of Life University, the largest vitalistic university in the world, this is personally frustrating. You see, Life University is a fully accredited institution in Marietta, Georgia that offers 24 degree programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and the professional Doctor of Chiropractic degree level, and our College of Chiropractic is the largest single campus chiropractic college in the world.
And as per our mission, all of our academic programs, be it nutrition, dietetics, exercise science, positive psychology, environmental studies, et cetera, and chiropractic, are based upon a vitalistic philosophy, which simply put is the belief that living organisms are fundamentally different from nonliving things because they’re governed by different principles than are inanimate objects such as rocks. It’s not really a difficult concept to grasp. Contemporary vitalism, or more accurately neovitalism, recognizes that all living systems are biologically intelligent, self-organizing, self-maintaining and self-healing, and express these attributes when the system is free of interference. For example, the environment would flourish if free of the interference of people; people flourish when free of the interference from toxins that we breathe in and ingest daily; and free from the interference and destruction of negative thoughts and emotions. For chiropractors who look at health through a vitalistic lens, their objective is to identify and remove interference to our lives, specifically to nerve system function through correction of verbal subluxation.
I say I’m frustrated because once again across Canada, a political narrative that vitalists and subluxation [are] anti scientific, dogmatic and not evidence-based has been put into play by those who outright reject or simply do not desire to understand the position.
At a time when the entire human physical experience is being corporately exploited for the singular purpose of selling the consumer more drugs, and when the US is in the midst of the single biggest drug addiction epidemic in our history, I’m frankly alarmed that such an intellectually dishonest and misinformed approach to the third largest portal of entry, and I might emphasize, drug-free healthcare profession on the continent is being undertaken.
Rob Scott, D.C., Ph.D.
Now, I’m certainly aware that on occasion some members of the profession make rather extreme claims that don’t benefit either the profession and certainly the public, and those individual cases should be addressed by regulatory boards. But one has to acknowledge that even those claims do not require the vast list of potential side effects, ranging from dizziness and nausea to death, that the medically approved evidence-based drug companies must add breathlessly and in fine print to their advertisements. And while there’s still certainly debate within the profession amongst those who embrace a vitalistic view as to the operational and scientific understanding of the word subluxation, I would think that for the sake of ease, our Canadian colleagues and certainly those in Ontario could simply look to the Ontario Regulated Health Professions Act of 1991 itself. In the Chiropractic Act, Chapter 21 Section 4.1.i, it states …, “a disorder arising from the structures or functions of the spine and their effects on the nervous system.”
In short, one could ascertain that the term subluxation refers to a collection of clinical findings having to do with spinal malfunction, muscle and soft tissue abnormalities, neurological alterations, and their impact on movement and function, all of which by the way are well documented. As to the false assertion that subluxation-based chiropractic is anti-scientific and not evidence-based, the question in their minds must come down to: What is one willing to accept as evidence?
You see, there’s plenty of research available, small clinical trials and case reviews that support our vitalistic premise, and certainly more good work is required in this area. However, it appears that from our critics’ perspective, the availability of high-level systematic reviews and randomized clinical trials are to be the onlyacceptable metric for research in general and chiropractic care specifically, once again, driving their singular agenda. But you know, one might ask hockey superstar, Sidney Crosby, what he thought of the groundbreaking chiropractic care he received at our university that was featured in Sports Illustratedand Maclean’smagazines, [and] that put him back on the ice in 2011 after concussion threatened to end his career.
That, of course, is the anecdotal evidence that our critics outright and flatly reject. Once again, refusing to acknowledge that “ask the man who’s been there” is folk wisdom that’s still highly relevant in the clinical encounter. You see, evidence-based practice is determined by three factors, patient preference, best available evidence, and the provider’s clinical experience, not simply evidence. So while subluxation-based chiropractic care may not be the conventional approach to health that people seek, to suggest that there’s no evidence for this is simply disingenuous and inaccurate.
It appears that, once again in Canada and alas, my home province of Ontario, a politically biased agenda has been launched by the detractors of our vitalistic, subluxation-based view of healthcare, and the drug-free natural lifestyle that it invokes. And, as per their usual and customary playbook, personal attacks have been launched against individuals who support the vitalistic view and have influence in provincial regulation, all in an effort to discredit them and have them removed from their positions of influence on regulatory boards.
Because of that, I encourage all chiropractors, across Canada and other regions around the world who feel that their principled chiropractic approaches under attack, to hold their associations, their regulatory boards, and their leadership accountable to represent all chiropractors, not just a few vocal ones who see the world and the practice of chiropractic in their likeness.
Rob Scott, DC, PhD
So while the consumer continues to demand chiropractic care, I’m going to leave this renewed debate in the hands of the practicing chiropractors in Canada, and the provincial associations and regulators, taking comfort in knowing that every day thousands of people seek effective chiropractic care for a variety of ailments and leave their chiropractor’s office satisfied, feeling better, and more able to engage in and enjoy the day that lies ahead.
Those are just a few of my thoughts and I hope you’ll join us in Montreal at LIFE Vision Canada this March 29th and 30th or down here in Atlanta for LIFE Vision in April on April 12th and 13th. information for both events can be found at lifevisionseminars.com.
Thanks for tuning in. We’ll see you next time.”
Download a PDF of the transcript here: 190306 Scott transcript Chiropractic and Canada
*Definitions of schism and schismatic are courtesy of Google Dictionary.
Links to material referenced in Dr. Scott’s remarks: https://www.ontario.ca/laws/statute/91r18