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Walter Llewellyn McKone
Having left Stationers’ Company’s School, Hornsey, London in 1980 I was accepted at the British School of Osteopathy in London. After four years of socialising (and a little studying!) they eventually allowed me out with a piece of paper saying that I had qualified as an osteopath.
Whilst on the course I’d been involved with the new sport of American football in South London. The team was the Greenwich Bay Mariners – it later became the Greenwich Rams after sponsorship from the Los Angeles Rams. After I qualified I also began a longstanding involvement with Haringey Rhinos Rugby Football Club .
A year later, in March 1985, the American Football League UK was formed. Keen to further my interest in sports medicine, I offered myself as the first Athletic Injuries Officer. Needless to say I was totally unaware of what was required and enthusiasm eclipsed practicality! As the neck injuries and broken bones started to amount in the league, I knew I needed help.
I began writing to medical teams in the National Football League (NFL) in America, receiving guidance from the Dallas Cowboys, the then Los Angeles Rams, and the San Francisco 49ers. A few years later Budweiser sponsored the League allowing my close friend Colin Jarman, Chief Executive of the League, and myself to travel to America and visit all the medical teams. My knowledge of sports medicine accelerated.
In 1990 the NFL formed the World League of American Football. Plans began for a London franchise team called the London Monarchs; I knew I had to be on the medical team! After an interview with the Dallas Cowboys at the end of 1990 I was appointed team osteopath to the London Monarchs. During that first year, 1991, we won the World League final at Wembley Stadium against the Barcelona Dragons (11:1). I was awarded a World Bowl Ring and now it was time to move on.
I returned to the Rhinos and my private practice in North London. In less than a year I was offered the opportunity to look after a ballet and opera company in Altenburg, former East Germany. The next three years were spent travelling back and forth, at least one weekend a month. Due to my travels & experiences I found I was in demand as a lecturer.
In the late 1990’s I began research for my first book on sports medicine. Whilst researching I came across many old osteopathic books and articles that did not seem to support the style that I had been taught. Little did I know where this would lead me in the future!
By 1999 I had published my first book Osteopathic Athletic Health Care: Principles and Practice (Thompson publishing). My second book Osteopathic Medicine: Philosophy, Principles and Practice (Blackwell Science) followed in 2001. During the writing & research of these books I found more and more evidence to support my suspicions that the osteopathy of today was not the osteopathy of yesterday. How was it that the old osteopaths were treating infectious diseases and we were treating backache? Had the human body really changed that much?
It was around 2003 that I decided on a change of direction. I became a clinical practitioner in the Children’s Clinic at the British School of Osteopathy , researching psychology, and philosophy in osteopathic history. Word travelled about my research and I was asked to give presentations and lectures all over Europe. Requests came in for chapter contributions in German and English publications.
So here I am in 2016, still practicing, writing, lecturing and travelling.
With guidance from old osteopathic and historical texts, I have found what I believe to be the ideas of the original osteopathy. The body hasn’t changed but our ideas have to the detriment of osteopathy, and worse, the patient.