"The Osteopathy debate keeps the entire industry on its toes"

Interview with Ute Repschläger, IFK e.V.

Photo: Ute Repschläger

Ute Repschläger talks about why osteopathy should be integrated into the field of physiotherapy; © IFK e.V.

What if ... there would be a designated occupation called osteopath? Ute Repschläger, President of the German Federal Association of Independent Physiotherapists (IFK e.V.) asks this question in her lecture titled "Manual Therapy and Osteopathy" at MEDICA PHYSIO CONFERENCE 2015. In this interview, she talks about the advantages, the confusing legal situation and possible perspectives of both therapy options.

Ms. Repschläger, who should be allowed to use osteopathic methods here in Germany?

Ute Repschläger: Many experts think it makes sense to integrate osteopathy into the physician and physiotherapist job profiles. The IFK campaigns for physiotherapists to be authorized in performing osteopathic treatments.

What characteristics and advantages does osteopathy actually provide?

Repschläger: Osteopathy is an effective alternative for instance for dysfunctions of the musculoskeletal system that are accompanied by pain or a supplement to medical treatments or surgical interventions. It does not concentrate on the treatment of the musculoskeletal system but rather on the relationship between this system and the entire body physiology.

Foto: Frau behandelt andere Frau, die auf einer Liege liegt

© panthermedia.net/sylv1rob1

Where do manual therapy and osteopathic treatments intertwine?

Repschläger: Both therapy share the same roots by being "hands-on" methods. They diagnose and treat imbalances and aim to balance the locomotor system again. Practical overlaps between manual therapy and osteopathy occur in techniques for muscle relaxation, joint mobilization or during soft tissue therapy for example.

Both the IFK and the German Society for Manual Medicine emphasize that the integration of osteopathic methods into manual medicine/therapy achieves optimal treatment results.

What is happening right now from a legal point of view?

Repschläger: The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf (German: Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf) recently delivered a judgment on osteopathy. The judges’ key messages stated that osteopathy is a practice of alternative medicine and can only be performed by physicians and alternative therapy practitioners. In doing so, the practice of osteopathy is still not on a legally compliant platform for physiotherapists.

Only the state of Hesse has implemented the long-standing request by the IFK for a legally binding framework for the continuing education of physiotherapists in osteopathy through its Osteopathic Education and Examination Regulation (German: Weiterbildungs- und Prüfungsordnung Osteopathie), WPO-Osteo. The goal of the IFK is to implement the Hessian solution in all German states to finally provide legal certainty.

For which target group is your lecture at the MEDICA 2015 relevant and why?

Repschläger: The lecture is not only relevant for physiotherapists and physicians but for all decision makers in the healthcare system. The osteopathy debate currently keeps the entire industry on its toes and is hotly contested both professionally and politically.

A date to remember:
"Manuelle Therapie und Osteopathie – zwei Seiten einer Medaille. Eine berufspolitische Betrachtung" (the conference language is German)

”Manual therapy and osteopathy – two sides of the same coin. A discourse on the political dimensions of this occupation“

November 18, 01:15 PM at the CCD Süd, Room 3

Click here for the programm of the MEDICA PHYSIO CONFERENCE
Foto: Natascha Mörs

© Barbara From-

The Interview was conducted by Natascha Mörs and translated by Elena O'Meara.