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J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2010 Apr;110(4):232-8.

Effect of pedal pump and thoracic pump techniques on intracranial pressure in patients with traumatic brain injuries.

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  • 1Division of Neurosurgery at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center in Colton, California 92324-1801, USA.



Although osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) is used to manage myriad conditions, there has been some hesitation regarding the safety of applying OMT to patients with intracranial injuries or elevated intracranial pressure (ICP).


To assess the safety of two OMT techniques--pedal pump and thoracic pump--on ICP and cerebral perfusion pressure (CPP) in patients with traumatic brain injuries (Glasgow Coma Scale score < or =8).


We prospectively enrolled consecutive patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) for traumatic brain injury. Patients between the ages of 18 and 75 years and with abnormal CT scans were included in the present study. Patients with baseline ICP values of 20 mm Hg or lower were assigned to group 1, and those with ICP levels greater than 20 mm Hg, group 2. Patients underwent continuous ICP and CPP monitoring, with ICP measured using a ventricular catheter and fiber optic device. Values of ICP and CPP were recorded at baseline, during application of the OMT techniques, and 5 minutes after the two OMT techniques were completed. Patients received up to three treatment cycles. Ventricular drains remained open (stopcock open) during OMT, allowing continued cerebral spinal fluid drainage, except for brief periodic closures (stopcock closed) every minute to register accurate ICP values. Statistical analysis was performed using a dependent t test with repeated measures.


Twenty-four comatose patients, aged 18 to 69 years, received a total of 50 sessions of pedal pump and thoracic pump techniques. In group 1 patients, a slight decrease in ICP values (mean, -0.586 mm Hg) and an increase in CPP values (mean, 1.1613 mm Hg) was noted post-OMT. Patients in group 2 also had decreased mean ICP values (-1.20 mm Hg) and increased mean CPP values (2.2105 mm Hg). Changes were not statistically significant in either group.


According to the present limited study, pedal pump and thoracic pump techniques may be used safely in patients with severe brain injuries.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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