ICOM Brings OMT to Ballet Idaho

A unique partnership between the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) and Ballet Idaho is affording student-doctors the opportunity to perform osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) on world-class performers.

For the past few months, members of ICOM’s Student American Academy of Osteopathy (SAAO) chapter have met with dancers at the Boise-based ballet company, to bring an osteopathic approach to their body mechanics. 

“ICOM’s partnership with Ballet Idaho has been an invaluable experience for our medical students, allowing them to interact with patients who place a high demand on their bodies and rely on their bodies as a high-performance machine,” said Dr. Dennis C. Rau Jr., Associate Professor and Chair of Osteopathic Principles and Practice (OPP) at ICOM. 

Supervised by ICOM faculty, student-doctors use manual manipulation on the dancers to help rebalance the body’s systems. This hands-on experience, quite literally, gives ICOM’s medical students a greater understanding of the interrelationship of the body’s structure and function. 

“In this setting, the somatic dysfunctions are real, as are the clinical scenarios,” Dr. Rau said. “This allows our students the ability to supplement their OPP labs with a more realistic, high-stakes experience on a regular basis in order to build their confidence and hone their palpation skills for optimal osteopathic diagnosis and treatment.”

The goals of providing manual medicine are to restore maximal pain-free movement of the musculoskeletal system, enhance neuromuscular function, and improve biomechanics. Evidence shows OMT can reduce pain and restore normal range of motion and balance — all of which is beneficial to the dancers’ wellness and performance. 

“The Ballet Idaho/ICOM partnership provides an incredible opportunity to Ballet Idaho’s dancers to not only receive much needed treatments that help them to perform at their best, but they also find their interactions with the ICOM students very informative,” said Anne Mueller, Artistic Associate at Ballet Idaho. “Our dancers feel they are learning more about their bodies’ unique needs and issues as they receive treatment. Regular wellness treatments are an invaluable tool to the dancers and the organization as a whole, as injury prevention is of the utmost importance.”

Photo Caption: Dr. Dennis Rau Jr. walks Student-Doctors Tejaswini Addanki and Dominic Shuttleworth through a treatment.

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