Context: Asthma is a leading cause of pediatric chronic illness, and poor disease control can lead to decreased quality of life and impaired academic performance. Although osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) has been shown to have positive effects on pulmonary function in adult patient populations, less is known about its impact in children.
Objectives: To evaluate changes in pulmonary function testing (PFT) in pediatric patients on the same day they received OMT compared with PFT in those who received usual care.
Methods: We recruited patients between the ages of 7–18 years with a diagnosis of asthma who were receiving routine care at a primary care asthma clinic and had undergone baseline spirometry. Patients were excluded if they met any of the following criteria: clinical indication for pre- and postbronchodilator spirometry on the day of their visit, albuterol use in the last 8 hours, oral steroid use in the previous 2 weeks, or diagnosis of asthma exacerbation in the previous 4 weeks. Eligible patients were then randomized to either an OMT or a control group. Patients in the OMT group were treated with rib raising and suboccipital release in addition to standard asthma care, while control group patients received standard care only. A second PFT was performed for patients in both groups at the end of the visit. OMT was performed by multiple osteopathic pediatric residents specifically trained for this study. Change in spirometry results (forced vital capacity [FVC], forced expiration volume in 1 second [FEV1], FVC/FEV1, and forced expiratory flow 25–75%) were then compared.
Results: The study population included 58 patients: 31 (53.4%) were assigned to the OMT group and 27 (46.6%) were assigned to the standard of care group. Patients who received OMT had greater improvement in all spirometry values compared to the usual group; however, these changes were not statistically significant.
Conclusions: The benefits of OMT on short term spirometry results in pediatric asthma patients remain unclear.