During the nineteenth century an American doctor, Andrew Taylor Still became convinced that there was a direct link between good health, the internal organs of the body and the musculoskeletal system. He believed that they were all interrelated and thus depended on each other for an individual's well-being. Many followed his work with great interest and by the 1930s and 1940s osteopathy had come to the UK and the first training courses were being implemented. Since then the discipline has seen a huge increase in patient numbers and this continues today.
Osteopaths primarily work on the muscles and joints of the body but they also pay special attention to the internal organs and also environmental and psychological factors. It is in this way that they treat the whole person. Osteopaths also realise that the body has an incredible ability to self-heal and this is often utilised as part of the treatment.
A vast number of ailments and conditions can be treated with osteopathy including back, neck and shoulder pain, slipped discs, sporting injuries, repetitive strain injury, arthritis, asthma, chronic fatigue syndrome, pregnancy aches and pains and even colicky babies. The treatments themselves tend to consist of touch, physical manipulation, stretching and massage and through these treatments joints can be mobilised, muscle tension relieved and the blood supply to the affected areas is increased allowing the body to heal itself.
Example areas of study
There are only a handful of courses in osteopathy in the UK and most are accredited by the General Osteopathic Council which means that graduates will be able to register to practice once their studies have finished. This is very important as you cannot practice as an osteopath without registration. Most of the courses have a similar focus and examples of the areas you may study are listed below. The length and teaching of the courses do vary however, so you will need to check with the institutions themselves that the course is right for you before you submit your application.
- Spinal mechanics
- Osteopathic diagnosis
- Exercise physiology
- Soft tissue techniques
- Neuro-muscular techniques
- Clinical practice
- Peripheral mechanics
- X-ray diagnosis
- Osteopathic philosophy
- Palpation and articulatory techniques
- Musculoskeletal system
- The nervous system
- Human development
- Cardiovascular and ventilatory system
- Ethics and jurisprudence
- Natural therapeutics
- Clinical procedures
- Function, malfunction and techniques
- Laboratory techniques
- Dietetics and nutrition
- Applied osteopathic medicine
- Dysfunction and disease
- Professional practice
- Tissue dynamics
Some career possibilities
Six million people a year are currently seeking osteopathic treatment which means that there are good career opportunities within this area. Most graduates from osteopathy courses go on to become professionally registered osteopaths and may go on to set up their own businesses. Osteopaths are also employed within the NHS, sports clubs and private clinics.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for osteopathy courses vary a little between institutions so it is best to check the grades and qualifications you will need with the institutions themselves before submitting your application. The list below will give you an idea of the entry requirements that the institutions may expect:
- UCAS Tariff: 160-260 points including chemistry and biology or human biology
- A-levels: CC-BCC including chemistry and biology or human biology
- SQA Highers: BBCC including science subjects
- SQA Advanced Highers: CC-BBC including chemistry and biology or human biology
- Irish Leaving Certificates: BBBCC including science subjects
- International Baccalaureate: 26 points including science subjects
- European Baccalaureate: 65-70% including science subjects
- Access: science subjects for mature entry
For your application or interview, the following may be useful:
- Further information on osteopathy courses, careers and registration is available from the General Osteopathic Council and from theBritish Osteopathic Association.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
*NB: Your school or college will need a subscription to Course Discover in order for you to gain access, for further information go to:www.coursediscover.co.uk