Osteopathy was developed by Andrew Taylor Still, a physician and surgeon in the United States of America in the mid-1800s, who established the first independent school of osteopathy in 1892 (1,2).
Osteopathy (also called osteopathic medicine) relies on manual contact for diagnosis and treatment (3). It respects the relationship of body, mind and spirit in health and disease; it lays emphasis on the structural and functional integrity of the body and the body’s intrinsic tendency for self-healing. Osteopathic practitioners use a wide variety of therapeutic manual techniques to improve physiological function and/or support homeostasis that has been altered by somatic (body framework) dysfunction, i.e. impaired or altered function of related components of the somatic system; skeletal, arthrodial and myofascial structures; and related vascular, lymphatic, and neural elements (4).

Osteopathic practitioners use their understanding of the relationship between structure and function to optimize the body’s self-regulating, self-healing capabilities. This holistic approach to patient care and healing is based on the concept that a human being is a dynamic functional unit, in which all parts are interrelated and which possesses its own self-regulatory and self-healing mechanisms. One essential component of osteopathic health care is osteopathic manual therapy, typically called osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), which refers to an array of manipulative techniques that may be combined with other treatments or advice, for example on diet, physical activity and posture, or counselling. The practice of osteopathy is distinct from other health-care professions that utilize manual techniques, such as physiotherapy or chiropractic, despite some overlap in the techniques and interventions employed. As a hands- on approach to patient care, osteopathy has contributed to the body of knowledge of manual therapies and complementary and alternative medicine.

Osteopathy is practised in many countries throughout the world. In some countries, manual therapists use osteopathic techniques and claim to provide osteopathic treatment, although they may not have received proper training.

This document presents what the community of practitioners, experts and regulators of osteopathy considers to be adequate levels and models for training osteopathic practitioners, as well as for dispensers and distributors. It provides training benchmarks for trainees with different backgrounds, as well as what the community of practitioners of osteopathy considers being contraindications for safe practice of osteopathy and for minimizing the risk of accidents. Together, these can serve as a reference for national authorities wishing to establish systems of training, examination and licensure that support the qualified practice of osteopathy.

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