Preventative Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and the Elderly Nursing Home Resident: A Pilot Study

Karen T. Snider, MS, DO; Eric J. Snider, DO; Jane C. Johnson, MA; Celia Hagan, RN, BSN, CCRC; and Conrad Schoenwald, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: October 10, 2011

Accepted: March 5, 2012

Published: August 1, 2012

J Osteopath Med; 112(8): 489-501

Context: Elderly nursing home residents are generally in poor health. Many residents report pain on a daily basis, few are independent in their activities of daily living, and most take a large number of medications.

Objectives: To investigate the benefits elderly nursing home residents may receive from preventative osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) designed to optimize structure and function and enhance their bodies’ homeostatic mechanisms.

Methods: Volunteer nursing home residents were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 groups: (1) OMT, (2) light touch (LT), or (3) treatment as usual (TAU). The OMT group received an OMT protocol twice per month for 5 months, for a total of 10 visits. The LT group received a light-touch protocol meant to simulate OMT at the same frequency as the OMT group. The TAU group received no intervention. Participant health information from Minimum Data Set assessments was monitored during the study, along with hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and outpatient procedures. The nursing home personnel and the participants’ attending physicians were blinded to treatment group assignment.

Results: Twenty-one participants completed the study: 8 in the OMT group, 6 in the LT group, and 7 in the TAU group. The OMT and LT groups had fewer hospitalizations (P=.04) and decreased medication usage (P=.001) compared with the TAU group.

Conclusions: Twice monthly OMT and LT protocols reduced the number of hospitalizations and decreased medication usage in elderly nursing home residents. (ClinicalTrials.gov number NCT01000142)

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