Effect of osteopathic manipulative therapy in the attentive performance of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2014 May;114(5):374-81. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2014.074.


Context: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder most commonly affecting children and teenagers. It is characterized by the coexistence of attention problems and impulsivity and hyperactivity. Although several studies have been conducted on the efficacy of conventional and alternative therapies in children with ADHD, few studies have specifically investigated the efficacy of osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMTh).

Objective: To evaluate the efficacy of OMTh in the treatment of children with ADHD.

Methods: Children aged 5 to 15 years with a primary diagnosis of ADHD who were admitted to a single neuropsychiatry unit from November 2008 to September 2009 were randomly assigned to an intervention group (OMTh + conventional care) or a control group (conventional care only). Biancardi-Stroppa Modified Bell Cancellation Test accuracy and rapidity scores were recorded for both groups at baseline and after 10 weeks. Statistical analyses included univariate tests and multivariate linear regressions.

Results: A total of 28 participants were included in the study: 14 in the OMTh group and 14 in the control group. Univariate statistical analysis showed no statistically significant differences between the intervention and control groups in terms of characteristics measured at baseline, except for psychosocial intervention (P=.05). Multivariate linear regression showed that OMTh was positively associated with changes in the Biancardi-Stroppa Test accuracy (β=7.948 points; P=.04) and rapidity (β=9.089 points; P=.03) scores.

Conclusion: Participants who received OMTh had greater improvement in Biancardi-Stroppa Test scores than participants who received conventional care only, suggesting that OMTh can potentially increase performances of selective and sustained attention in children with ADHD. To confirm these findings, studies of larger and more diverse populations are warranted.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / therapy*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Manipulation, Osteopathic / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies