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Osteopathy is a patient-centered approach to health.
It is guided by principles, relating to the patient as a whole.
The body is a self-regulating, functional unit in which function and structure are inter-related, and healthy tissues require proper circulation of all body fluids.
Skilled palpation and a detailed knowledge of anatomy, physiology and biomechanics guide the osteopath to assess and restore balance within and between all the systems of the body; musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, neurological, cranial and visceral.
In health, the body seeks to maintain a balance within and between these systems.
The osteopath uses a wide array of manual approaches to reduce and resolve strains, stress and dysfunction in all areas of the body.
The goal is to remove restrictions to vascular, neural and biomechanical mechanisms and ultimately support the natural healing mechanism by promoting autoregulation.
Osteopathy was introduced as a science, philosophy and practice by Andrew Taylor Still, MD in the 1870’s. Disheartened with his tools during a deadly meningitis outbreak, Still began developing a manual, patient centered approach. Many osteopaths since Still have contributed their life’s work to Osteopathy – as a science and a practice.
There are two streams of osteopathy recognized internationally, a medical stream of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, and a manual stream of Osteopaths.
Canada represents a unique situation as it is one of a few countries world wide in which both streams of osteopathy are represented within the different provinces. Currently, the medical stream of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons falls under the legislation and licensure of the individual provincial Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons.
Individual associations represent Osteopaths provincially. The Canadian Federation of Osteopaths (CFO) in turn, represents these provincial associations nationally. The CFO maintains membership in the international body, the Osteopathic International Alliance (OIA). The purpose of the OIA is to advance the practice of manual osteopathy and osteopathic medicine throughout the world.
Osteopathic Physicians have a long history in Canada, dating back to the turn of the last century. Despite small numbers they obtained medical practice rights for physicians who graduated from the United States (US) medical schools, approved by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). As a result, in certain provinces, the title “Osteopath” is reserved for graduates of US medical schools only. Due to increasing numbers of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners in Canada, there is a growing need for provincial governments to recognize both streams.
An osteopath from France introduced the manual stream of osteopathy to Canada in 1981 opening the first traditional Manual Osteopathy college in Montreal, Quebec. Osteopathy then opened branches in Toronto in 1992 and Halifax and Vancouver in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Since then a number of independent osteopathic institutions have been established across Canada.