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History of NUCCA

Dr. Ralph Robins Gregory
Dr. Ralph Robins Gregory

In 1941, when Dr. John Francis Grostic of Ann Arbor walked into the Monroe office of Dr. Ralph Robins 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 instillation 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 rotatory 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 a 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 (1987). Rapidly following were the concepts of atlas-odontoid relationship, axis spinous position, the lower angle, the method for determining atlas rotation, the discontinuance of the recoil for the tricepts 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 through 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, and 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 Dr. L.H.McLellan 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 Mr. Donald A. Miller, a Detroit attorney and former friend and legal advisor to Dr. Grostic, who with other interested chiropractors formed The National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association, Inc. (NUCCA) a fraternal organization, on April 16, 1966. 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 doctors: 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 needed testing. Research expanded, re-examination 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 exempt status was made to the federal government, and after examination, was 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" as proposed by Dr. Seemann.

The accomplishments of NUCCA and NUCCRA under R. Gregory 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 tricepts 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 C-1 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 headpiece 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 on-going process. Re-evaluation of the basic work is a constant procedure. Others have picked up since the death of Dr. Gregory in 1990. Major clinical effort has been undertaken by Dr. Marshall Dickholtz Sr. from 1995 to the present.

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