Collegiate Athletes’ Perceptions of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment

  • Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, Ph.D., MPA, M.A.
  • Julia L. Black, D.O., MBA
  • Michael A. Kirkover, M.D.
  • Colin B. Lisenby, M.D.
  • Andrew S.T. Porter, D.O.
  • Paul M. Cleland, M.D.
Keywords: osteopathic manipulative treatment, sports medicine, athletes, stress, pain


Introduction. Many published studies have examined the effects of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), but none has evaluated its role in treating collegiate athletes. The authors examined collegiate athletes’ perception of OMT.

Methods. A cross-sectional survey of a convenience sample of 592 collegiate athletes was conducted from two universities in the midwestern United States during August-September 2019. The athletes completed a 12-item survey during pre-participation physical evaluations at their respective institutions. Main outcome measures included pain, need for pain medication, stress and anxiety associated with injuries, and overall satisfaction with the OMT in recovery and return to sports. Fisher’s exact test was used to evaluate association between the variables.

Results. The participation rate was 80.6% (477/592). Slightly fewer than 7% (31/477) of the athletes were familiar with OMT. Eighteen of the 31 athletes (58.1%) had received osteopathic manipulation as part of a treatment plan for injury. Of these athletes, 94.4% (17/18) reported a decreased need for pain medication and 83.3% (15/18) had reduced stress and anxiety related to their injury. One in three of them expressed interest in receiving osteopathic manipulation as a treatment option for an injury. The athletes reported general satisfaction with OMT in their recovery and return to sports.

Conclusion. The findings demonstrated the interest and benefits of OMT among collegiate athletes. This evidence supported previous findings about perceived efficacy of OMT in treating patients regardless of injury and diagnosis. Future studies need to establish causal relationship among OMT, stress and anxiety, pain, and use of pain medications.

Original Research