Although Osteopathic treatments have been in practice for almost three centuries in the United States, and over 50,000 Australians visit an Osteopath every week, the profession is still gaining recognition in Hong Kong. So what is Osteopathy? And what can Osteopaths treat?
Osteopathy is a model of medicine invented by general surgeon Dr. A.T. Still that aims to find the primary cause of illness rather than focus solely on eliminating symptoms. It is a difficult model to apply; in order to understand the consequences of an impaired structure or function on the body as a whole, one has to have in depth knowledge of physiology and anatomy.
As an Osteopath, finding “health” in my patients is essential. In the initial consultation, I elicit the patient’s history, with specific emphasis on digestion, quality of sleep, previous trauma, chronic conditions, and medication. This conversation not only allows me to gather necessary information, but also helps to build a trusting and supportive patient-practitioner relationship. I then conduct an examination based on Orthopaedic testing and palpation skills to identify any misalignments or impaired structures that may be causing the patient’s physiological dysfunction. I focus on treating the human body as a whole functional unit and guide patients in addressing the lifestyle choices that may be causing their current condition. Thus, unlike most medical appointments, Osteopathic consultations tend to be approximately 40 minutes long.
Many of the common ailments can be treated by “simple” manipulations. I say “simple” in jest because accurate palpation is both an art and a science; an Osteopath with the right training and touch is able to elicit a tremendous amount of information from the tissues of his patient's body using a technique that is non invasive, and which has no side-effects.
It is not uncommon that patients who complain of tight hip flexors often suffer from constipation. A high-stress environment like Hong Kong often leaves people with a tight diaphragm, which alters breathing patterns and can ultimately lead to increased anxiety and poor sleep. In newborn babies, gentle Osteopathic mobilisation such as cranial techniques can help decompress the chronic tensions at the base of the skull, which can help regulate sleep and feeding patterns. In fact, neck strains are common (and usually undiagnosed) amongst newborns, which negatively affect their latching on reflex.
Over the last two decades we have seen a paradigm shift towards a more holistic approach to wellbeing. Schools, national health services and private medical practices are encouraging people to explore complementary therapies, to engage in new ways to enjoy physical activity and to practice mindfulness in an effort to better manage the demands of everyday life.
Over the last eight years I have worked alongside highly skilled medical practitioners at Dr. Lauren Bramley & Partners who are truly committed to the development of an integrative model of healthcare. My personal belief in the distinct value of this model—where practitioners and all modalities come together to help restore optimum health in the patient—led me to open the Stanley Wellness Clinic in 2013. The high degree of collaboration and communication among our practitioners at both clinics (osteopaths, acupuncturists, homeopaths, naturopaths and psychologists) allows us to provide a comprehensive treatment plan to address the social, physiological, and psychological needs of the patients, which are important markers for wellbeing throughout life. Each practitioner works within a spectrum of expertise and all are united in their support for providing a patient-centred care approach. We are responsive to individual patient preferences, needs, and values and use that as beacon to guide all clinical decisions.
The Cartesian model is no longer the only way; the future lies in integrative and functional medicine. Stanley Wellness and Dr. Lauren Bramley & Partners continue to be at the frontline of that approach, with a guiding mission of restoring balance to our patients’ lives and providing multiple pathways and opportunities for optimal wellness.
Dr. Damien Mouellic BSC is Chairman of The Hong Kong Osteopathic Association and owner of The Stanley Wellness Center; Partner at Dr Lauren Bramley and Partners.