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  • September 27, 2014

Historical Highlight’s
Memorial Edition

In 1941 when Dr. John Francis Grostic of Ann Arbor walked into the office of Dr. Ralph R. Gregory seeking an atlas adjustment, a close friendship began which lasted until Dr. Grostic’s untimely death in 1964. A victim of Hodgkin’s disease, Dr. Grostic had been unable to obtain a corrective atlas adjustment prior to his visit to Dr. Gregory other than at the B.J. Palmer Chiropractic Clinic in Davenport, Iowa.

While both doctors had practiced full spine adjusting, their real concern was the upper cervical spine. It was only natural, therefore, that they should collaborate on this spinal area, making every possible attempt to evolve a more biomechanically accurate system of upper cervical subluxation correction.

To achieve this end, the installation of perfectly aligned x-ray equipment and precise patient placement became essential, permitting distortion free x-rays to be taken and making x-ray analysis with rotary measurement acceptable. The first collimation was designed and installed.

Dr. Gregory had been reading Dr. A. A. Wernsing’s The Atlas Specific about this time and was impressed by Wernsing’s comment -“due to the shape of the superior articular facets of the atlas, the atlas moves laterally as if on the rim of circle” (1941).  He showed the Wernsing book to Dr. Grostic, the axis superior articulations were added, and the condylar-axial concept became the starting point for what was to become the Grostic Technique.

In early 1943 Dr. Grostic, who was not satisfied with the former methods of determining atlas laterality, developed the prototype of the instrument which was to become the cephalometer, a skull-divider for establishing the central skull line.  When joined to the atlas plane line, these two lines formed two angles with atlas laterality being on the side of the acute angle.

This system of establishing atlas laterality was checked for months by both Grostic and Gregory.  It was found to be consistent and so remains today. Rapidly following were the concepts of atlas-odontoid relationship, axis­spinous position, the lower angle, the method for determining atlas rotation, the discontinuance of the recoil for the triceps pull adjustment, and the horizontal resultant.  Analytical instruments were perfected, adjusting tables modified, and adjustment coordinators made.

While this work between 1941 and 1946 hardly deserved the appellation “research”, it did provide a biomechanical basis for the further evolution of upper cervical though mostly a trial and error procedure.  Several Chiropractors by this time had received personal benefit from the work and they were asking for a seminar.  In the fall of 1946, the first Grostic seminar was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, limited to eighteen participants.  From that time forward into 1964, seminars were held at various times yearly. Dr. Gregory assisted Dr. Grostic in nearly all these seminars through the eighteen years.

Immediately following the death of Dr. Grostic in 1964, the group split into two factions, the larger one establishing headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dr. Gregory did not wish to continue teaching seminars, but to concentrate on advancing the basic work.  In early 1966, however, he was contacted by phone by Dr. L.H. McClelland of Mesa, Arizona who requested that Dr. Gregory conduct seminars for several Chiropractors because of his close affiliation with Dr. Grostic during the developmental years of the work.  Dr. Gregory finally agreed and held the first seminar in 1966 at the Howard Johnson Motel in Monroe.  By 1978 the seminars were approved for license renewal by the Michigan State Board of Examiners.

Dr. Gregory felt that in view of recent schism among Grostic practitioners, an organization should be started to conduct future seminars and research. He consulted with Dr. Donald A. Miller, a Detroit attorney and former friend and legal adviser to Dr. Grostic, who with other interested Chiropractors formed The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, Inc. (NUCCA) a fraternal organization, on April 16, I966.  Mr. Miller completed all the legal arrangements, became the NUCCA attorney, providing counsel to the board.  Elected first President was Dr. Irvin Mathias of Indiana; Vice-President, Dr. Albert Dick of Michigan; Secretary, Dr. Robert Kemp of Michigan; Treasurer, Dr. Marshall Dickholtz of Illinois, and three NUCCA directors:  Drs. Max Foster and Ralph R. Gregory of Michigan and Andrew Mathias of Indiana.

The newly elected board adopted the NUCCA emblem and authorized an official organ, NUCCA News, of which Dr. Gregory was appointed editor. The first publication was issued in December of 1966.  Harry Long, Ph.D. was appointed the first research advisor in 1967.

As ever-increasing clinical observations arose, hypotheses were formulated that need testing.  Research expanded, reexamination of the original basic work had to be done, and newer methods of subluxation analysis and correction developed. To accomplish this task, the NUCCA board was advised by Mr. Miller that a research organization must be set up.  NUCCA, Mr. Miller stated, was a fraternal organization and could not conduct research.

The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Research Association, (NUCCRA) was incorporated for research purposes only, due to the efforts of Mr. Miller, on October 6, 1971.  Application for an exempt status was made to the federal government, and after examination, was finally granted.  Professor Daniel C. Seemann of the University of Toledo was appointed research advisor in 1971.

It was decided that NUCCA should publish a more scientifically oriented paper and the name NUCCA News was changed to The Monograph, meaning “learned treatise on a particular subject” and proposed by Dr. Seemann.

The accomplishments of NUCCA and NUCCRA have been many.  Outstanding among them are:  (1) The development of the double-pivot-point system in x-ray analysis;  (2) The development of the triceps pull adjustment;  (3) The designing of better film analytical instruments;  (4)  The development of biomechanical concepts in film analysis and adjusting;  (5) The design and development over seven years of the Anatometer by Dr. Gregory and Peter Benesh which measures bodily distortions before and after the C­1 adjustment, providing proof of the effects of a C-1 subluxation on the body and their correction; (6) The design and development of a multiple support head piece for extreme subluxations;  (7) The establishment of a vertical axis for C-1 subluxations;  (8)  The classification of C-1 subluxations into basic types;  (9) The location of the skull center of gravity; and (10) The identification of the components of the lever system and their relationship inherent in an Occipital-Atlanto-Axial subluxation.

These developments and many more constitute an ongoing process.  Reevaluation of the basic work is a constant procedure.  Future goals in research now under advisement are an optical scanning feasibility study to scientifically prove the NUCCRA system, a read-out-instrument to test the adjustment, and a fool-proof system for checking leg disparity from which better correlations can be made.

NUCCA has given the profession more biomechanical data than probably any other Chiropractic entity in the past twenty years concerning the subluxation, its effects on the spinal column and human body, how to restore its misalignments to the vertical axis, and has shown acceptable and measureable proof of the benefits of the Chiropractic adjustment on the human body.  This it has done for the benefit of the patient, the Chiropractor, and the profession.

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