Who Provides Osteopathy?
Please note that our Ontario members, Osteopathic Manual Practitioners, are not Osteopaths (osteopathic physicians) because the term ‘osteopath’ is restricted, in Ontario, to members of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.
Osteopathy is a treatment philosophy which seeks to identify areas of the body that are restricted or constricted and then gently ease these restrictions so that normal function can resume.
Osteopathy applies the knowledge of the structure (anatomy) and function (physiology) of the body, to all diseases, disorders and dysfunctions. Osteopathic Manual Practitioners use their hands and provide a gentle “manual” approach, consistent with the osteopathic philosophy, to identify the causative factor of the problem and restore order to all of the systems: musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive, reproductive, or nervous system.
Man is composed of matter, movement, and spirit. - A.T. Still, Founder of Osteopathy
There are many different techniques that the Osteopathic Manual Practitioner may utilize; however, in all cases, the body must be addressed as an integrated unit and all the components of the patient – Body, Mind, and Spirit – are respected in practice.
In recent years, there has been increasing interest in the use osteopathic health care – a broad range of holistic, client-centred, healthy approaches, including a drugless, hands-on, non-invasive method of assessment and treatment. Understanding osteopathic health care can be confusing as different countries use disparate terminology and permit diverse practitioners with various educational backgrounds. Health care professional legislation, regulations and policies are substantially different from one jurisdiction to another.
The World Health Organization recognizes that the practice of osteopathic manual therapy, a component of osteopathic health care, is distinct from other manual therapies, such as physiotherapy and chiropractic, despite the fact that there is some overlap in the techniques and interventions that are used. There are two groups of professionals who practice osteopathic health care (osteopathy) and utilize an osteopathic approach – Osteopathic Manual Practitioners and Osteopathic Physicians.
Osteopathic Manual Practitioners have extensive education and clinical training in traditional (manual) osteopathic practice. They assess and treat patients using manual techniques. They are not physicians so they cannot prescribe medication or perform surgery. Our members (Osteopathic Manual Practitioners) may use one of several designations depending on the diploma or degree awarded by their educational institution upon graduation, such as D.O. (Diploma in Osteopathy) D.O.M.P., DOMTP, BSc(Hons), BOst, or MOst for example. To be an active or affiliate member of the OAO, the applicant for membership must be a graduate of a Board-approved, osteopathic educational institution. Some OAO members were educated in other countries and were regulated health care professionals with the right to call themselves an “osteopath” in certain countries. The OAO will consider applicants to be eligible for membership if they are registered or eligible for registration with a regulatory college as an ‘osteopath’ in a country other than Canada, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Throughout Canada there are 1300+ Osteopathic Manual Practitioners/Therapists/Osteopaths (non-physicians), most of whom practice in Quebec and Ontario. The education required to become an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner is also available in many other countries including the United Kingdom, Russia, Australia, Greece, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Israel, Portugal, Switzerland, Scandinavia, and New Zealand. In some of these countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand, an “osteopath” is a protected (restricted) title which can only be used to describe the regulated health care professional who practices osteopathic health care (osteopathy).
Osteopathic Physicians are graduates of an osteopathic medical school or college in the United States. They receive a Doctor of Osteopathy or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the osteopathic medical school or college when they graduate. There are no osteopathic medical schools or colleges in Canada. In Ontario, only a member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario is permitted to use the title “osteopath” as per the Medicine Act, 1991. Although the exact number is unknown, it is estimated that there are approximately twenty osteopathic physicians practicing in Canada.