Osteopathic Principles and Practices

The OPP courses are designed to introduce, advance understanding, and apply the principles and practice of Osteopathic medicine to each patient care encounter for the optimization of health.  Students will learn through a series of lectures, labs, team-based learning activities and hands on practice.  Lecture sessions will work to integrate osteopathic principles with a foundation in the basic sciences and anatomy through the lens of the tenets:

  • The body is a unit; the person is a unit of body, mind and spirit
  • The body is capable of self-regulation, self-healing, and health maintenance
  • Structure and function are reciprocally interrelated
  • Rational treatment is based upon an understanding of the basic principles of body unity, self-regulation, and the interrelationship of structure and function

Lab sessions are the students’ opportunity to practice and advance their hands on diagnostic and treatment skills as they utilize osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT).

In both lecture and labs sessions, students will be graded in 3 major areas:

Didactic Skills

Didactic skills encompass the knowledge base needed to practice the application of osteopathic principles.  This knowledge is rooted in the tenets and may include osteopathic history, research, functional anatomy and mechanics, physiology, how osteopathic manipulative treatment works, and indications/contraindications to the utilization of OMT into the care of all patients among many other topics.

Applied Clinical Skills

Applied Clinical Skills encompass the knowledge acquired regarding the hands on diagnosis and treatment of patients.  These skills represent the acquisition and advancement of palpatory skills, mechanical understanding to achieve a correct diagnosis and treatment skills using a multitude of osteopathic manipulative treatment modalities.  Basic skills assessements (BSA’s) given in the first and second year help provide feedback on skill develop in diagnosis and treatment.


Students are graded on professionalism in their attendance, preparation for lab and interaction with their classmates.  Learning to utilize touch to heal patients requires more than palpatory skills, but attention to their partner comfort or discomfort during the process.

Each semester of Osteopathic Principles and Practices builds on the previous and moves from basic diagnosis and treatment skills to the clinical application of osteopathic principles in every patient encounter.

Osteopathic Principles and Practices 1

OPP 1 allows the students an introduction to osteopathic practice.  Applied clinical skills include an introduction to landmarks, initiation of palpatory skills, and treatment utilizing the modalities of soft tissue, muscle energy and lymphatic techniques.  Didactic skills introduce the student to the biomechanics of the cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar spine, and ribs, as well as principles of physiologic motion, kinesiology, facilitation, autonomic function.  Students will also begin to apply principles and treatment to patient care in their first systems review of osteopathic considerations in the Head/ears/eyes/nose/throat system.

Osteopathic Principles and Practices 2

OPP 2 allows for further development of basic palpation and treatment skills.  Applied clinical skills include advancing diagnosis skills for the treatment of the sacrum and pelvis as well as an introduction to new treatment modalities including Counterstrain, High Velocity Low Amplitude (HVLA) and a brief introduction to osteopathic cranial manipulative medicine (OCMM).  Didactic skills introduce the students to the biomechanics of the sacrum and pelvis, as well as principles of gait, research and Zink patterns.

Osteopathic Principles and Practices 3

OPP 3 advances palpatory skills via introduction of treatment modalities requiring a finer sense of palpation as well as beginning to truly integrate many of the concepts from OPP 1& 2.  Applied clinical skills dives deeper into osteopathic cranial manipulative medicine (OCMM), as well as an introduction and practice of the treatment techniques of myofascial release (MFR), ligamentous articular release (LAR) balanced ligamentous tension (BLT) and facilitated positional release (FPR).  Integrated understanding of functional anatomy and osteopathic diagnosis will be combined through upper and lower crossed syndrome diagnosis and treatment.  Didactic skills will introduce students to the biomechanics of the cranium, the sternum, the clavicles, as well as principles of posture, tensegrity, gait, podiatry, prolotherapy and the interconnection of the mind, body, spirit continuum.

Osteopathic Principles and Practices 4

OPP 4 is the culmination of the prior OPP classes (1,2,3) as students begin to integrate osteopathic diagnosis and treatments skills and the application of principles learned for the patient care they will participate in during their OMS III and OMS IV years.  Applied clinical skills introduces visceral manipulation during this course.  Both Applied clinical skills and didactics skills integrate a systems based, patient care approach to osteopathic considerations for:

  • Upper and lower extremity complaints
  • Surgical patient
  • Obstetrics/gynecologic patient
  • Headache patient
  • Cardiovascular and respiratory patient
  • Low back pain patient
  • Pediatric patient
  • Hospitalized patient

For each of these patients, the ABC’s (first introduced in OPP 1) will be integrated into patient care and the restoration of health.  The ABC’s include

  • A= Autonomics (sympathetic, parasympathetic)
  • B= Biomechanics
  • C= Circulation (vascular, lymphatic)
  • S= Screening exam

Osteopathic Principles and Practices in the 3rd and 4th year

OPP in the 3rd and 4th year looks to integrate and apply all the materials presented in OPP 1-4 to patient care while on clinical rotations.  During this time students participate in patient care and draw from their didactic knowledge base and their applied clinical skills of palpation and diagnosis to treat patients and restore health.

OMM Academics