Structure & Function


Five main models of structure-function relationships guide the osteopathic practitioner's approach to diagnosis and treatment. (3)


1. The biomechanical structure-function model

The biomechanical model views the body as an integration of somatic

components that relate as a mechanism for posture and balance. Stresses or imbalances within this mechanism may affect dynamic function, increase energy expenditure, alter proprioception (one's sense of the relative position and movement of neighbouring parts of the body), change joint structure, impede neurovascular function and alter metabolism (4-6). This model applies therapeutic approaches to  allow for the restoration of posture and balance and efficient use of musculoskeletal components.



2. The respiratory/circulatory structure-function model

The respiratory/circulatory model concerns itself with the maintenance of extracellular and intracellular environments through the unimpeded delivery of oxygen and nutrients, and the removal of cellular waste products. Tissue stress or other factors interfering with the flow or circulation of any body fluid can effect tissue health (7). This model applies therapeutic approaches to address dysfunction in respiratory mechanics, circulation and the flow of body fluids.



3. The neurological structure-function model

The neurological model considers the influence of spinal facilitation,

proprioceptive function, the autonomic nervous system and activity of nociceptors (pain fibres) on the function of the neuroendocrine immune network. Of particular importance is the relationship between the somatic and visceral (autonomic) systems. This model applies therapeutic approaches to reduce mechanical stresses, balance neural inputs and reduce or eliminate nociceptive drive.



4. The biopsychosocial structure-function model

The biopsychosocial model recognizes the various reactions and psychological stresses which can effect patients' health and well-being. These include environmental, socioeconomic, cultural, physiological and psychological factors that influence disease. This model applies therapeutic approach to address the effects of, and reactions to various biopsychosocial stresses.



5. The bioenergetic structure-function model

The bioenergetic model recognizes that the body seeks to maintain a balance between energy production, distribution and expenditure. Maintaining this balance aids the body in its ability to adapt to various stressors (immunological, nutritional, psychological, etc.). This model applies therapeutic approaches to address factors which have the potential to deregulate the production, distribution or expenditure of energy.



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