John Smartt Osteopath
Bachelor of Applied Science (Osteopathy) Master of Osteopathy (UWS)

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Collected Scientific Research Relating to the Use of Osteopathy with Atelectasis


1) Osteopathy involves helping people's own self-healing abilities to work better, rather that focussing primarily on particular conditions.

2) Each person is different, and osteopathy treats them differently.

Therefore people respond to osteopathic treatment in different ways. Treatments that work for one person cannot be guaranteed to work for another person in the same way. The fact that there is scientific research supporting a treatment in a group of people does not mean that it will always work in the same way (which is probably true of all research).

A number of things make research into osteopathy challenging. These include the two aspects of osteopathy mentioned above, and also the lack of major commercial interests to provide funding in expectation of financial returns. At the same time, there is an emerging body of research demonstrating the usefulness of osteopathic treatment.

More research is being done all of the time. I am not aware of any research which shows that osteopathic treatment, delivered by a qualified osteopath, is ineffective in relation to this area. If you are aware of any studies that show that, please bring them to my attention.

Please note: there is room for debate about the classifications used for these studies. Please let John Smartt know if you believe that any of these classifications are incorrect.

This study is from a peer-reviewed journal

Clinically and statistically significant results

Randomised controlled trial

Sleszynski SL, Kelso AF. 1993 Comparison of thoracic manipulation with incentive spirometry in preventing postoperative atelectasis J Am Osteopath Assoc Aug;93(8):834-8, 843-5

"Atelectasis is a preventable complication that often occurs after upper abdominal surgery. In our 1-year randomized, researcher-blinded trial, low-risk cholecystectomy patients were subjected to either the thoracic lymphatic pump (n = 21) or incentive spirometry (n = 21) to prevent atelectasis. The treatment groups were equal with respect to risk factors for atelectasis and deviation of preoperative respiratory parameters (forced vital capacity [FVC] and forced expiratory volume in one second [FEV1]) from the predicted values. Atelectasis occurred in 2 (5%) of 21 patients regardless of whether incentive spirometry or thoracic lymphatic pump treatment was used. Study patients treated with the thoracic lymphatic pump technique had an earlier recovery and quicker return toward preoperative values for FVC and FEV1 than patients treated with incentive spirometry."