Adjunctive osteopathic therapy for hospitalized COVID-19 patients: A feasibility-oriented chart review study with matched controls

Int J Osteopath Med. 2022 Jun:44:3-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijosm.2022.05.004. Epub 2022 May 31.


Background: Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) may improve outcomes during COVID-related respiratory distress - the most common cause of death from novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Outcomes from OMT treatments of respiratory distress during the COVID-19 pandemic have not been reported.

Objective: Assess adjunctive OMT in hospitalized patients with SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory distress.

Design: Feasibility oriented retrospective observational cohort study.

Setting: COVID-19 (non-ICU) ward in a tertiary academic medical center.

Methods: Inpatients received daily OMT treatments of rib raising, abdominal diaphragm doming, thoracic pump and pedal pump. Primary outcomes were procedural acceptance, satisfaction, side effects, and adverse events. Secondary outcomes were patient-reported clinical change after therapy; number of hospital days; need during hospitalization for high-flow oxygen, C-PAP/BiPAP or intensive care; need for supplementary oxygen at discharge; and discharge disposition.

Participants: Hospitalized adults with SARS-CoV-2 infection and respiratory distress.

Results: OMT (n = 27) and Control (n = 152) groups were similar in demographics and most laboratory studies. 90% of patients accepted OMT and reported high satisfaction (4.26/±0.71 (maximum 5)), few negative effects, no adverse events, and positive clinical change (5.07 ± 0.96 (maximum 7)). Although no significant differences were found in secondary outcomes, OMT patients trended towards fewer hospital days than Controls (p = 0.053; Cohen's d = 0.22), a relationship that trended towards correlation with number of co-morbidities (p = 0.068).

Conclusion: Hospitalized patients with respiratory distress and COVID-19 reported acceptance, satisfaction, and greater ease of breathing after a four-part OMT protocol, and appear to have a shorter length of hospitalization. Randomized controlled trials are needed to confirm these results.