Biotensegrity: A Unifying Theory of Biological Architecture With Applications to Osteopathic Practice, Education, and Research—A Review and Analysis

Randel L. Swanson, DO, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: May 5, 2012

Accepted: September 20, 2012

Published: January 1, 2013

  • Randel L. Swanson, DO, PhD, 

    From the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the time of submission, Dr Swanson was performing an osteopathic traditional rotating internship at Crozer-Keystone Health System/Delaware County Memorial Hospital in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania

J Osteopath Med; 113(1): 34-52

Since its inception, osteopathic medicine has sought to identify the mechanical causes of disease and to understand the body’s structure-function relationship. Research conducted during the past 25 years has demonstrated that the architectural principles of tensegrity can be applied to biological organisms (termed biotensegrity) and that these principles can demonstrate the mechanical structure-function relationship at all size scales in the human body. Further, biotensegrity at the cellular level allows the cell to mechanically sense its environment and convert mechanical signals into biochemical changes. When applied to the principles of osteopathic medicine, biotensegrity provides a conceptual understanding of the hierarchical organization of the human body and explains the body’s ability to adapt to change. Further, biotensegrity explains how mechanical forces applied during osteopathic manipulative treatment could lead to effects at the cellular level, providing a platform for future research on the mechanisms of action of osteopathic manipulative treatment.

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