Lymphatic Treatment: Historical Perspective and Research

by Sheldon C. Yao, DO

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    00:00 From a historical perspective, A.T. is still the founder of osteopathy back in 1874, was quoted to say "We strike at the source of life and death when we go to the lymphatics." He realized how important it was to make sure that our patient’s lymphatic system was operating correctly in order to fight off infection and to heal. Back in the 1918s, there was a Spanish flu pandemic and so back in 1918 there was not any antibiotics, there was not any antivirals and so standard medical care was being provided by allopathic physicians and osteopathic physicians integrated our osteopathic principles and treatment and hands on to the patients and based on a retrospective study looking at the mortality rates of influenza, you could see that patients that were taken care of by routine care had a 5% to 6% mortality rate while osteopathic physicians who utilized osteopathic techniques that we are going to discuss had a mortality rate of 0.25. Now if you had patients who had pneumonia on top of the influenza then the mortality rate actually increased to almost 33% up to even 60% to almost 78% in large cities when you have standard care whereas osteopathic physicians had a mortality rate of about 10%. Granted the sample size was a little different, there were not as many deals throughout taking care of patients, but you could really see that the osteopathic treatments, especially in the time when there was a lack of medicines for the patients, had a profound effect in helping to treat patients with the flu and with pneumonia. There has been different advancements in our osteopathic techniques. There has been different studies looking at how osteopathic treatment could actually increase our immune system. Back in 1910, Dr. Whiting found a 15% increase in phagocytic index after a splenic and liver pump. In 1920, Dr. Lane showed an increase in antibody levels against when performing splenic pump also and in the 1930s, there was a study looking at splenic manipulation and how it increase leukocyte count and there has been more recent studies looking at, again, increases in cellular immune cells when performing lymphatic techniques. There has been numerous numerous animal studies looking at the effect of these different lymphatic abdominal pumps and how it could potentially increase our immunity and immune system and the flow of lymphatics and there has actually been human studies looking at how our immune system responds better to these pumps and these techniques. There was one large landmark study looking at the effect of osteopathic manipulation on hospitalized patients with pneumonia. This published paper in 2010 was a study that looked at patients that were hospitalized with pneumonia greater than the age of 50 and the subjects were treated with an OMM protocol for 15 minutes twice daily and they looked at the length of stay, duration of IV antibiotics and pretty much respiratory failure or death and what they found was that the patient and the group that received osteopathic protocol actually had decreased length of stay, decreased duration of IV antibiotics and a lower mortality rate when you compare that to conventional care. This was a large multicenter study and it showed that osteopathic manipulation was effective and safe in treating patients with pneumonia. This was the study protocol and a lot of these different techniques were utilized to try to promote and treat any sort of restrictions that may prevent lymph flow and then different techniques to promote lymphatic flow. Soft tissue technique in the thoracic and lumbar and the cervical spine were utilized to try to decrease any muscle spasms. Rib raising was utilized to try to increase rib cage mobility. Doming of the diaphragm was utilized to try to improve motion of the abdominal diaphragm and thoracic inlet release was utilized to decrease tension around the thoracic inlet and the thoracic inlet is the region for terminal drainage for our lymphatic system and so freeing up that area help to remove any restrictions and they prevent that lymphatic drainage back into circulation. Suboccipital decompression was utilized to treat the suboccipital region which helped to address any sort of parasympathetic restrictions and then the thoracic pump was utilized to try to promote actual lymph flow and then the pedal pump also was utilized to try to increase lymphatic circulation. This study protocol was utilized in this research study to help promote lymphatic flow and they provided positive results for patients with pneumonia. Overall, research in the lymphatic field has shown that OMM could increase lymph count, antibody formation and help to decrease edema, mortality in pneumonia patients and also postoperative complications.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Lymphatic Treatment: Historical Perspective and Research by Sheldon C. Yao, DO is from the course Osteopathic Treatment and Clinical Application by System.

    Author of lecture Lymphatic Treatment: Historical Perspective and Research

     Sheldon C. Yao, DO

    Sheldon C. Yao, DO

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