The Use of Osteopathic Manipulation in a Clinic and Home Setting to Address Pulmonary Distress as Related to Asthma in Southwest Virginia

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Virginia Tech


Osteopathic Manipulative Therapy (OMT) is underutilized in addressing lung function and symptoms in asthma patients. The objective of this study was to determine if a single session of OMT can improve lung function and symptoms in patients suffering from asthma, and if patients can be taught a self-administered home OMT protocol to control their symptoms, in order to develop a protocol by which physicians can apply OMT to address lung disease in patients. This was a purposive randomized controlled quasi-experimental study which took place in family practice, pulmonology, and asthma specialist offices in southwest Virginia. The intervention was a ten-minute semi-individualized OMT protocol and a self administered home OMT education session.

Variable baseline, within-subject study design was utilized, allowing each person to serve as his or her own control. Pre and posttest measurements included: participant spirometry FEV1, FVC, and PEF; thoracic excursion upper and lower rib cage motion; and a five-question rating scale to determine current asthma symptoms.

A ten-minute OMT session included an individualized thoracic and rib screening and treatment, suboccipital release, diaphragm release, and thoracic pump. Comparison between pre- and post-OMT lung function and symptoms portrayed change. For the second part of the study, the participants were divided into two groups with group two receiving a ten-minute home OMT education session and a handout of the home OMT techniques. All participants returned two weeks later for a follow up lung function assessment.

Statistically significant (p<.05) improvements after initial OMT were documented for 8 of 10 measurements. Only two spirometry values, FEV1 and PEF, did not significantly improve. The group who participated in the home OMT education session had statistically significant improvements in 3 of 10 measurements, including the upper and lower thoracic excursion measurements and the overall asthma symptoms rating.

With a simple, easy to repeat, 10 minute semi-individualized OMT session, researchers demonstrated improved lung function and symptoms in this group of participants in Southwest Virginia. The addition of a home OMT education session was demonstrated to be at least partially beneficial. Future studies should expand on this pilot study with the researchers recommending using a larger patient population including patients with lower pre-treatment spirometry values in order to accurately monitor potential for change.



Southwest Virginia, osteopathic manipulative treatment, asthma