Osteopathic Manipulation Reduces Hospital Stay, Mortality Rates in Older Pneumonia Patients, Study Finds

Osteopathic Manipulation Reduces Hospital Stay, Mortality Rates in Older Pneumonia Patients, Study Finds

Osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) for pneumonia reduced the length of hospital stays in adults aged 50 to 74 and lowered in-hospital mortality rates for patients 75 years and older, according to the results of a new study.

The research, titledMulticenter Osteopathic Pneumonia Study in the Elderly: Subgroup Analysis on Hospital Length of Stay, Ventilator-Dependent Respiratory Failure Rate, and In-hospital Mortality Rate,” was published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

OMT is a hands-on technique using stretching, resistance, and pressure to relieve muscle aches and joint restriction and misalignment, restore muscle and tissue balance, and promote blood flow throughout the body.

Pneumonia is a major infectious disease afflicting mainly older patients. While antibiotic therapy is the hallmark of treatment, the emergence of resistant bacteria is worrisome and provides an impetus to explore additional treatments. Osteopathic manipulative treatment is a promising adjunctive treatment for older adults hospitalized with pneumonia.

In a multicenter randomized controlled trial, 387 patients aged 50 years or older who met specific criteria for pneumonia upon hospital admission were randomly assigned to one of three groups that received either an adjunctive OMT protocol (130 patients); a light touch (LT) protocol (124 patients); or conventional care only (CCO, 133 patients).

The differences between treatment groups were evaluated for subgroups of participants based on their age, Pneumonia Severity Index (PSI) class (1-2, 3, 4, or 5), and type of pneumonia (community-acquired or nursing-home acquired).

The data was studied by intention-to-treat analysis of all participants and by per-protocol analysis of patients who ended the study without missing any of the treatments.

The results showed that the length of hospital stays was shorter for the OMT group (median was 2.9 days) than the LT (median, 3.7 days) and CCO (median, 4.0 days) groups.

Per-protocol analysis of the younger subgroup revealed that OMT reduced their hospital stay by 1.1 days compared to those treated with CCO. By intention-to-treat analysis of the older subgroup, in-hospital mortality rates were 11 percent lower compared to the CCO group. OMT also reduced the in-hospital mortality rates of those with the highest severity of illness.

“Osteopathic manipulative therapy was developed in the pre-antibiotic era specifically for the management of pneumonia. While antibiotic therapy is the current standard of care, the emergence of resistant bacteria is a global threat and provides an incentive to explore adjunct treatments that can improve their efficacy,” Dr. James Bailey, DO, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at New Jersey’s Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine, said in a press release.

“This study should encourage physicians to use their osteopathic techniques when treating older patients with pneumonia,” Bailey said.

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