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Letters to the Editor  |   June 2006
Front-Line Osteopathic Medicine
Author Affiliations
  • LT DAVID WILLIAM HAYES, DO
    VAQ-133 Hood River, Ore
    Flight Surgeon
Article Information
Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment
Letters to the Editor   |   June 2006
Front-Line Osteopathic Medicine
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, June 2006, Vol. 106, 360-361. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.6.360
The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, June 2006, Vol. 106, 360-361. doi:10.7556/jaoa.2006.106.6.360
To the Editor: As the active duty naval flight surgeon of a jet squadron (VAQ-133) recently deployed to Afghanistan, I arrived confident that my demanding internship in advanced trauma life support certification had provided me with the skills I needed for the task at hand. I was surprised to discover the important role that osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) would have in medically supporting my squadron. 
The pilots and aircrew of our deployed forces often have musculoskeletal complaints. During flight operations, aviators experience significant gravitational forces while forcibly maintaining the body positions required for situational awareness. Furthermore, combat missions require that aviators wear restrictive safety gear and use night vision goggles, which can bring about cervical and thoracic somatic dysfunction. 
The Naval Aerospace Medical Institutes' medical guidelines restrict the available treatment options for these individuals. The use of muscle relaxants and other more conventional pharmacologic therapies places aviators in a “down” aeromedical status, which prohibits them from flying. Osteopathic manipulative treatment, however, provides immediate and often prolonged relief while maintaining a fully functional squadron that is capable of completing frequent missions. 
Many of the aircraft maintenance staff have somatic dysfunctions as well, resulting from labor-intensive jobs. The use of OMT in these individuals helps reduce the time taken off work and can also help increase morale, all of which contribute to keeping our jets airborne and missions successful. 
My use of OMT has not only helped to keep VAQ-133 fully functional, it has strengthened my professional relationship with the members of my squadron. Developing a trusting relationship with my patients is both personally rewarding and vital to my role as a flight surgeon, because it allows me to assess many personal factors that affect the performance of my squadron members. This, in turn, has a direct influence on aviation safety through mishap prevention. 
Figure 1.
LT David Hayes, DO, providing osteopathic manipulative treatment to a VAQ-133 pilot (LT Stiefer) after a combat mission in Afghanistan.
Figure 1.
LT David Hayes, DO, providing osteopathic manipulative treatment to a VAQ-133 pilot (LT Stiefer) after a combat mission in Afghanistan.
Figure 2.
LT David Hayes, DO (center), with fellow aircrew (LCDR Moore [left] and LCDR Rao) after a combat mission over Afghanistan.
Figure 2.
LT David Hayes, DO (center), with fellow aircrew (LCDR Moore [left] and LCDR Rao) after a combat mission over Afghanistan.
Of the many clinical skills front-line osteopathic physicians have at their disposal, OMT is invaluable. It allows medical care to be easily transferred from the osteopathic treatment table into the cockpits of jets. I can proudly say that osteopathic medicine is currently playing an important role in protecting the lives of the many men and women who serve in our nation's Armed Forces. 
 The views expressed in this letter are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Navy, Department of Defense, nor the US Government.
 
Figure 1.
LT David Hayes, DO, providing osteopathic manipulative treatment to a VAQ-133 pilot (LT Stiefer) after a combat mission in Afghanistan.
Figure 1.
LT David Hayes, DO, providing osteopathic manipulative treatment to a VAQ-133 pilot (LT Stiefer) after a combat mission in Afghanistan.
Figure 2.
LT David Hayes, DO (center), with fellow aircrew (LCDR Moore [left] and LCDR Rao) after a combat mission over Afghanistan.
Figure 2.
LT David Hayes, DO (center), with fellow aircrew (LCDR Moore [left] and LCDR Rao) after a combat mission over Afghanistan.