A hands-on approach to treating patients with pulmonary disease

August 14, 2012
Sherman Gorbis (right), associate professor in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, trains a medical student how to perform an osteopathic manipulative treatment on a patient. Credit: Photo by Ann Cook

Researchers at Michigan State University are working to show how a noninvasive, drug-free form of hands-on medical care can help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease improve their breathing.

The team from MSU's College of Osteopathic Medicine will apply four osteopathic manipulative treatments to a group of patients with moderate to severe . One of the most common , COPD typically manifests as chronic bronchitis (a long-term cough with mucus) or emphysema (destruction of the lungs over time).

The goal, said lead researcher and associate professor Sherman Gorbis, is to attempt to determine the in patients' blood following osteopathic manipulation, a treatment where a physician uses his or her hands to diagnose and treat patients.

Osteopathic manipulative treatments have been used throughout the United States since the late 1800s. The techniques can be used to alleviate pain, restore range of motion and enhance the immune system.

However, Gorbis said, much of the evidence of the treatments' success has been anecdotal.

"That's what makes this project exciting," Gorbis said. "This will be one of the first studies to attempt to correlate treatment to pulmonary function and .

"If we can demonstrate that certain biochemical markers are enhanced with osteopathic manipulative treatment and show patients have increased , this could become a powerful teaching tool."

The study is being paid for with a nearly $100,000, two-year grant from the American Osteopathic Association in partnership with the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation.

The research team will recruit patients who have enrolled in McLaren-Greater Lansing Hospital's pulmonary rehabilitation program. As part of the trial, one group will undergo the osteopathic treatments, a second group will undergo a "sham treatment" that is hands-on but does not include manipulation and a third group will receive only the protocol normally part of the rehabilitation program with no hands-on treatment.

As patients join the trial, which will last 12 weeks for each enrollee, they will have blood drawn every two weeks. Those draws will be analyzed and measured. About 60 patients will take part over the two-year trial.

"By learning if certain biomarkers in the blood and plasma are enhanced in the group receiving the manipulation treatment, we hope to identify the physiological changes occurring among the patients," said Gorbis, who noted patients also will undergo exercise tolerance tests and complete questionnaires during the trial.

"While medication helps, there is no cure for COPD. But if we can improve the breathing process, and show how we are doing it, we can improve the quality of life of these patients."

Gorbis is working on the project with fellow osteopathic physicians Donald Sefcik, William Pintal and Aaron Bohrer, as well as fourth-year osteopathic medical student Kerry Melenovsky. Biochemists John Wang and Daniel Jones also are on the research team.

A successful pilot project will allow the team to seek funding from the National Institutes of Health to recruit larger numbers of in a multi-center trial.

Explore further: Pulmonary rehabilitation and improvement in exercise capacity improve survival in COPD

Related Stories

Pulmonary rehabilitation and improvement in exercise capacity improve survival in COPD

May 21, 2012
Pulmonary rehabilitation and improvement in exercise capacity significantly improve survival in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a new study from the UK.

Vena cava filters do not lower mortality rate in most embolism cases

May 31, 2012
A filter used to block clots from passing from the veins in the legs to the arteries of the lung does not improve mortality rates for most patients suffering a pulmonary embolism. However, if a patient is unstable – ...

Osteopathic faculty write text to help standardized test takers

April 3, 2012
Three years ago, Donald Sefcik, senior associate dean of Michigan State University's College of Osteopathic Medicine, set out to write a guide to help medical and physician assistant students study for standardized tests.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.