Biotensegrity: a unifying theory of biological architecture with applications to osteopathic practice, education, and research--a review and analysis

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2013 Jan;113(1):34-52. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2013.113.1.34.


Since its inception, osteopathic medicine has sought to identify the mechanical causes of disease and to understand the body's structure-function relationship. Research conducted during the past 25 years has demonstrated that the architectural principles of tensegrity can be applied to biological organisms (termed biotensegrity) and that these principles can demonstrate the mechanical structure-function relationship at all size scales in the human body. Further, biotensegrity at the cellular level allows the cell to mechanically sense its environment and convert mechanical signals into biochemical changes. When applied to the principles of osteopathic medicine, biotensegrity provides a conceptual understanding of the hierarchical organization of the human body and explains the body's ability to adapt to change. Further, biotensegrity explains how mechanical forces applied during osteopathic manipulative treatment could lead to effects at the cellular level, providing a platform for future research on the mechanisms of action of osteopathic manipulative treatment.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic / education*
  • Osteopathic Medicine / education*
  • Osteopathic Physicians / education*