Mission 2019

Those who have followed us for some time know we were hoping to start the first osteopathic school of Asia at Khyber Medical University (KMU) in Peshawar this fall.  Because of time constraints this past year at our mainschool in Montreal, the College of Osteopathic Studies (CEO, College d’Etudes Osteopathiques), we have had to postpone by one year, and so we organized a two-week mission again, in Lahore and Peshawar this past October.


The core leaders of OWB, Sylvie Erb, DO and Faisal Naqvi, DO, were lucky to be accompanied by two volunteers from Montreal, Paula Gonzalez and Marie Phaneuf-Tibault, recent graduates of the full-time program — the same that we are bringing to KMU in Peshawar.  We started the mission in Lahore, where we met the first two osteopaths of Pakistan, Usmara Zafar, DO and Haider Ali, DO. 


Over the last few years, we’ve organized several “Introduction to Osteopathy” workshops, led by Faisal Naqvi, DO, to present this new medicine to physiotherapists and physiotherapy students. Because of the enthusiastic response, we decided to organize a part 2 to this workshop, so that physiotherapists could get more tools to help their patients and a deeper understanding of the specificity of osteopathic principles.  We very much enjoyed being able to welcome those participants at our Osteopathy Center in Lahore. This workshop was very successful and we hope to find some of these students in a future class of osteopathy at KMU.

To satisfy the requests of many who had not yet attended an “introduction to osteopathy” workshop, we added a one-day workshop for them before leaving Lahore for Peshawar.

We started our work there with the third “Osteopathy Camp at RMI”.  Rehman Medical Institute was keen to welcome osteopathy as soon as they heard about it, and we thank their CEO, Shafique Ur Rehman, as well as their physiotherapy team led by Dr. Muhammad Bin Asfar Jan, for their wonderful hospitality and support. Because it was our third camp, the word had now gone around and, like happens everywhere for osteopathy, there were many more requests than time slots available. We treated young and old, with both musculoskeletal and internal medicine diagnoses. We treated people and not symptoms, releasing the causes of dysfunctions to insure better health for the long term.  

One case stood out for me: an older man came with one single complaint: severe pain in his left upper trapezius, the muscle between the neck and shoulder. His posture showed a severe deviation of his thorax to the left, with an elevated shoulder. What was remarkable with this man was that he was exceptionally healthy, and his structure was moving well, including his cranium, a rare finding among our patients.  There was only one area of significant tightness: his pericardium, the solid fascia that surrounds the heart and is attached to ribs and vertebras. We spent the entire session just working on releasing imprints of trauma in the pericardium and integrating the changes in the surrounding tissues. Sure enough, when Usmara asked whether there had been an emotionally traumatic event in his life, the old man shed a tear for his young daughter who died years ago. The feeling of a broken heart that had become solidified in his body but was now ready to be released. He left with an alignment close to normal and great relief.


Thanks to our partner at KMU, Prof. Haider Darain, we were connected with a new organization this year, Northwest General, School of Medicine and Hospital. Dr. Danish Ali Khan, assistant director, had organized a presentation to the medical school faculty and physiotherapy students that was followed by a workshop for the students. It was an opportunity for our two volunteers to tell their stories of how and why they chose osteopathy.

Paula used to be a biologist, having loved to study life. When the time came to go back to work after raising her children, she wanted to work with life within people rather than behind a microscope. Osteopathy offered the most direct access to witnessing the magic of life within a person. Marie was the lucky recipient of osteopathy treatments when she was in her mother’s womb. Three generations in her family were treated by osteopathy and at age 12 her choice was made: she would become an osteopath.  

Our case stories inspired the participants:  when we did a 2-day osteopathy camp at Northwest a few days later, already there were more patients than available slots. During the workshop, Sylvie treated a young man who had suffered whiplash 2 months earlier, and who was suffering from severe upper back pain for the last month. He reported he tried everything he could find to get relief and nothing worked. It was his lucky day as the single osteopathy treatment in front of the group gave him total relief. He called it a miracle but we made sure to confirm that osteopathy is a skill that can be learned, and will be taught starting next year, Inshallah, at KMU.


We had visited the pediatric ward at RMI last year and now it was time to demonstrate how osteopathy could help such a population. Invited by Prof. Bakhtiar, the team went through every department within Pediatrics, including the neo-natal unit, where preemies were attended to. Some solid research from Italy showed how osteopathy can decrease complications and length of hospital stay in this population.  

In our private practice, when we treat patients who suffered from meningitis or encephalitis in the past, we find their dura-mater to be extremely tense. We had the opportunity to treat such patients right there in the ICU, when they were struggling with the infections, enabling better recovery. Physicians were impressed by the unexpected recovery of a young girl suffering from encephalitis who was in a coma.  We also treated a number of children hospitalized for enteric fevers or pneumonia. We all regretted not having more time to follow up with those young patients who stand to benefit tremendously from osteopathy.

Other than treating patients, our priority was to inform college and high-school students of the coming program at KMU, which will allow them to become osteopaths. To that effect we made presentations at two colleges, thanks to the facilitation by Dr. Danish.

The one-year delay for the start of the first school of osteopathy of Asia gives us one more year to collect the funds we’ll need to run the project. Thank you for your help transferring the art and science of osteopathy to Pakistan, which will enable to creation of a modern, integrative, effective, healthcare system.  


With gratitude,

Sylvie Erb, PT, DO(Q)


Osteopathy Without Borders


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