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J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2019 Feb 11. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2019.026. [Epub ahead of print]

Assessment of Pulmonary Function After Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment vs Standard Pulmonary Rehabilitation in a Healthy Population.



Standard pulmonary rehabilitation (SPR) does not use osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), but OMT has potential to improve lung function and patient perception of breathing.


To analyze the immediate effects of OMT and SPR techniques on pulmonary function using spirometry and subjective ratings in young, healthy persons.


Participants were healthy students recruited from the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine-Bradenton and were randomly assigned to either the OMT or SPR group. During the first 4 weeks, each participant in the OMT group received 1 OMT technique (rib raising, doming of the diaphragm, thoracic lymphatic pump, and thoracic high velocity, low amplitude), and each participant in the SPR group received 1 SPR treatment (tapotement, pursed lip breathing, saline nebulizer, and rest) per week. Treatments were then ranked based on positive change in pulmonary function as measured by forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC). During the fifth week, the OMT group received the 2 highest-ranked OMT techniques, and the SPR group received the 2 highest-ranked SPR treatments. During the sixth week, the OMT group received the highest-ranked OMT and SPR treatment, while the SPR group received the same treatment combination but in the reverse order. Pulmonary function, as measured through FEV1, FVC, and FEV1/FVC, were collected before and after each treatment or treatment combination. Participants subjectively rated change in breathing after each treatment.


A total of 53 students participated in the study, with 28 in the OMT group and 25 in the SPR group. In the OMT group, rib raising yielded the highest positive mean (SD) change of 0.001 (0.136) L in FEV1 and 0.052 (0.183) L in FVC, followed by lymphatic pump, with a change of 0.080 (0.169) L in FEV1 and -0.031 (0.229) L in FVC. In the SPR group, pursed lip breathing yielded the highest positive mean (SD) change of 0.101 (0.278) L in FEV1 and 0.031 (0.179) L in FVC, followed by tapotement, with a change of 0.045 (0.229) L in FEV1 and 0.061 (0.239) L in FVC. Saline treatment significantly decreased lung function. All other treatments did not result in any significant changes in lung function. Overall, SPR subjective ratings were significantly lower than ratings for both OMT and combination (OMT+SPR) treatments.


Saline significantly reduced lung function and had low subjective posttreatment ratings in young healthy adults. Additionally, OMT and combination OMT and SPR significantly improved subjective breathing more than SPR alone. Future applications of this study include evaluating OMT and SPR effects on lung function in patients with various pulmonary conditions.


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