OMT Offers Opportunities for Wellness

Elizabeth LaCroix, Managing News Editor

This January, Bates Health Services has started a transition towards a different kind of healthcare: one that incorporates osteopathic manipulative medicine. This is a non-traditional type of medicine where Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.’s) manipulate the musculoskeletal system in order to relieve various types of pain. This type of medicine looks holistically at the body and treats more than just muscle pains. Osteopathic manipulation can also be used to treat poor sleep, anxiety, headaches or migraines, ear infections, and many other ailments. Originating from many different ancient cultures, including the Greeks, Romans, and Chinese, this type of medicine includes “something that is not a pill,” says Kathy Morin, the office manager of Health Services.
Morin advocated for this new treatment Bates offers, and she strongly believes it will have a positive impact on the overall wellness of students. “I think your generation is very open to new ways of treating pain, and really open to different ways of treating things other than just using pills,” she explains.
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT) is offered at Health Services the fourth Tuesday of every month, and the service is provided by Dr. Margo B. Goodman and Dr. Josephine Conte. Both physicians come from the Central Maine Family Medicine Residency and are certified in osteopathic medicine. Originally, Dr. Margo Goodman was supposed to be the only physician to work in the clinic, but with the large volume of interest students have shown within the first two months it has become necessary to add Dr. Conte to the schedule.
If you are interested in this program, you can sign-up by talking to one of the nurses at Health Services. Nurse practitioners may also refer some students to OMT who they feel may benefit from this treatment. Each treatment is only around 30 minutes long; a short time-frame for such effective care.
Morin was originally skeptical of osteopathic medicine, but she now says, “I have learned a lot over the years of how well it works, even having the treatment myself.” Contrary to traditional western medicine, the treatment’s holistic approach and its principle that the body can heal itself have proven to be effective. D.O.’s are able to position the body in various ways based on their knowledge of nerves and the musculoskeletal system to relieve areas of tension and supply circulation to the area.
Unlike many colleges and universities that have only limited access to healthcare programs for non-athletes, OMT is for everyone. “We want to make sure whatever we did was open to all students,” Morin says. Health Services is aware of how stressful the college experience is for all students, and they want to provide other options for students beyond taking a pill.
Osteopathic medicine is only the start of additional programs Morin and Health Services hopes to create. Morin has made it her goal to add new avenues of non-traditional medicine by next year. The resources for these programs have already been made readily available by the D.O.’s in the Central Maine Family Medicine Residency program. Dr. Conte is already board-certified in integrative medicine which focuses on organic medicinal drugs, such as aromatherapy and herbs as a form of patient care.
“The clinic is great when you are sick, but how do we keep you well?” seems to be the major question Morin and others at Health Services have been asking. OMT is the start of a Health Services transition to keep students healthy rather than only caring for them when they are sick.
Sometimes students are dropped off with very little knowledge of how to take care of themselves. Morin wants to provide avenues and opportunities like OMT where students can learn how they can individually eat well, or even learn the symptoms of different illnesses.“We do a lot teaching here and a lot of reassuring of students that you are doing a good job,” Morin says.
This lack of knowledge students have about taking care of themselves has called for the inclusion of wellness, an idea that promotes the maintenance of health while one is still healthy. Many colleges and universities have started to advertise their extravagant “wellness facilities” which mostly take the form of fitness centers. Very few of these wellness centers include osteopathic manipulative medicine and other forms of non-traditional and holistic treatments.
“I would love to see a new facility where it becomes more of a wellness center where all these types of services can be given,” says Morin referring to the inclusion of holistic medicine. The future Health Services is striving for is unlike what other colleges and universities have done before in the promotion of wellness. By providing more options for students to remain healthy and pain-free, Health Services is creating a clinic whose mission is to heal, prevent, and educate.