Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment for Older Patients: A National Survey of Osteopathic Physicians

Millicent King Channell, DO, MA; Yvette Wang, DO; Matthew H. McLaughlin, BS; Janice Ciesielski, MS; and Sherry C. Pomerantz, PhD
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Accepted: June 12, 2015

Published: March 1, 2016

J Osteopath Med; 116(3): 136-143

Context: The mission of the American Academy of Osteopathy (AAO) emphasizes “the integration of osteopathic principles, practices and manipulative treatment in patient care.” Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) can be used to address serious conditions affecting older persons (≥65 years). However, the percentage of osteopathic physicians who use OMT in older patients, the differences in conditions for which OMT is used, and the OMT techniques used in older patients compared with younger patients are unknown.

Objectives: To determine the use of OMT by osteopathic physicians in older patients compared with younger patients.

Methods: Members of the AAO were invited, via 3 e-mail messages sent over the course of a 4-month period, to participate in an anonymous online survey. The survey asked physicians to report the percentage of patients by age group (<65 years, 65-79 years, and ≥80 years) to whom they provided OMT, the types of musculoskeletal and system-based conditions for which OMT was used, and the specific OMT techniques used.

Results: A total of 197 of 629 AAO members (31.3%) responded to the survey. Respondents indicated that OMT was used at approximately the same rate in all patients in the 3 age groups. Osteopathic manipulative treatment was frequently used to manage a variety of musculoskeletal conditions, with the exception of osteoporosis, in all patients in the 3 age groups. The system-based conditions most often managed with OMT were respiratory and neurologic conditions. Various OMT techniques were used to treat patients in the 3 age groups; however, high-velocity, low-amplitude (HVLA) was usually avoided in patients aged 65 years or older.

Conclusions: Osteopathic physicians who used OMT in their practice administered OMT for a variety of musculoskeletal and system-based conditions in patients of all ages. Various OMT techniques were used by these physicians for patients of all ages, with the exception of HVLA, which was mainly used in patients younger than 65 years.

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