0 A Future for Chiropractic in Austria
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Dynamic Chiropractic – October 22, 1993, Vol. 11, Issue 22

A Future for Chiropractic in Austria

By Udo Kastner, MD, BS (Chiropractic)
As an MD who had been working in hospital health care for eight years, I started to study chiropractic at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic in Bournemouth, England in September 1987, and graduated with a BSc in chiropractic in July 1991. Returning home from England in July 1991, I started my private (pure chiropractic) practice in August 1991 as the first and so far only qualified chiropractor in Austria.

After two years, things are looking promising. Besides a growing practice, two small research projects (childrens' headaches and "growing pains") are ready for publication, and two larger projects (again childrens' headaches, and back pain in pregnancy) are in the planning stage for raising government funds.

I've begun lecturing on chiropractic at Graz University, have founded a Society for Research and Support of Chiropractic and have been registered as an expert witness on chiropractic with the court. I've had three articles on chiropractic printed in the local newspapers and beginning in September, will be on a half-hour radio program answering questions from the public on chiropractic. An appearance on TV is also planned.

After 15 months of negotiations and legal battles, the county council has recently given permission to open an Institute for Chiropractic with the legal status of an outpatient hospital. Some details concerning the position of chiropractors in the institute will need further careful negotiations with the county council but the situation already corroborates the term chiropractic as an accepted treatment concept before the public. The already gained acceptance of my chiropractic practice and the publicity reached so far, together with the possibilities of founding a corporation, could give the Institute for Chiropractic a head start.

My hometown, Graz, is the second largest town in Austria with a population of 250,000. It has a university with plentiful facilities, and is a perfect ground for establishing both chiropractic practice and research.

Austrian law allows only MDs to work as primary health care practitioners and the chiropractic profession is unknown in Austria. For me as an MD, it was not a problem to set up practice and I am legally allowed to work under medical supervision (comparable with Italy). While chiropractic is unknown as a profession, joint manipulation, in particular adjusting, is known and generally well-accepted among lay people and doctors in Austria.

In 1953, the West German Research Association for Chiropractic was established. The term chiropractic was later replaced with "chirotherapy," obviously to delineate the association from chiropractic profession. In 1963, the group merged with others to form the German Society for Manual Medicine. This German school of MDs has always seen a wider role for manipulative care than musculoskeletal pain, and Austrian MDs had a strong part in this development. The first university appointment worldwide for manual medicine was at Graz University in 1972.

In the last few years, Austrian and German MDs have made contact with a variety of other specialties: courses in applied kinesiology, SOT, cranial therapy, physioenergetics or Feldenkrais movement therapy, to name only a few, are available in Austria and Germany. The Vienna School of Osteopathy (part time for MDs and physiotherpists) started a five-year course in 1991. Together with schools for homeopathy and acupuncture, the number of alternative MDs in Austria and Germany is increasing.

I have met medical manipulators whose adjustive skills and biomechanical concepts are among the best you can imagine. Some might adjust the foot, the tibiofibular joint, or the rib cage for treatment of chronic back pain or treat the locomotor system to alleviate cardiac arrhythmia. Of course, only a small percentage of manual medics have this broad concept, but they are teachers and opinion-leaders for the others. The postgraduate education for manual medicine is now strictly regulated and supervised by the Austrian Medical Association.

As far as I can see, there are two principle ways to provide a future for chiropractic in Austria:

  1. Satisfy an increasing number of patients with good chiropractic care, which in turn creates a growing demand for chiropractic with the public. At present this could only be done by bringing some German-speaking chiropractors from abroad to Austria who would have to work under a medical umbrella. The already established practice and a future Institute for Chiropractic could form a strong nucleus of chiropractic activities.


  2. Create a reputation for chiropractic in science and research in Austria. With the projects in planning, the already established contacts to research departments of chiropractic colleges in the U.S. and Australia, the already established contacts to the Foundation for Chiropractic Education (FCER), and adequate funding, this could be done within the existing institutions of Graz University.

On the basis of a growing popular demand for chiropractic and academic acceptance of chiropractic, one can envision a scenario where Austria, as a future (1995?) member of the European Community, will follow the European trend for legislation of chiropractic. If enough lay people and academics in my home country can be convinced that chiropractic art, philosophy, and science have something to offer, there will be a promising future for chiropractic in Austria.

Udo Kastner, MD, BS (Chiropractic)
Marburgerkai 47
A-8010 Graz
Tel: 43-316-815656
Fax: 43-316-815655

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