OMM on the Battlefield:  My experience as an Army Reserve-Medical Officer

Jonathan Oline, DO; Colonel Jonathan Oline, medical officer in the Army Reserve; or Volunteer Fireman, Jonathan Oline is truly a “DO Doing More.” In 2007-2008, Dr. Oline deployed to a combat zone in Mosul, Iraq while the U.S. surge was going forth in northern Iraq. There he performed emergency resuscitative care while working at the 86th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) serving with the 44th Medical Brigade, Airborne. His most recent deployment in 2018 was Camp Arifjan in Kuwait with the 452nd Combat Support Hospital (CSH).

The daily life in Camp Arifjan could never be called a walk in the park. With the afternoon temperature rising to 115 degrees and the stress and tension levels are at a constant high in a “hazardous zone.” It is hard to even fathom what it takes to mentally and physically prepare deploy to an area like this.  His primary responsibly was a Flight Surgeon who does the flight physicals for the army helicopter pilots and crew members. It required 24/7 duty to work closely with the Medical Regulating Officer (MRO) to clear all soldiers for MEDEVAC transportation out of theater. A large volume of primary care was done at the Military Treatment Center (MTC) where service members from all branches of the military were treated, as well as service members from multiple coalition countries and civilian contractors. Dr. Oline personally saw over 500 patients in a three-month period. 

Dr. Oline believes one of the most rewarding aspects of this tour was being able to do over 100 OMM treatments in that same time period. The deployed personal and austere environment is a target rich zone for cervical, lumbar and sacroiliac somatic dysfunctions. He was able to treat soldiers on their first visit giving them significant immediate relief. Osteopaths become very popular, very quickly in a deployed setting. 

He worked closely with the physical therapy department which was right next door to the clinic. He received patient referrals to perform OMM. This led to a significant improvement in their somatic dysfunctions and a subsequent faster return to full duty. He referred soldiers to physical therapy as well when individuals required recurrent adjustments due to persistent muscle spasm. 

Interesting cases included radicular type upper extremity paresthesia’s. Patients were usually very concerned they had a nerve root impingement and requested an immediate MRI. Instead, after a thorough osteopathic exam, it would prove to be a posterior thoracic trigger point that caused a somato-somato reflex and symptoms down their arm. Many times, this could be immediately treated with a rib correction or an occasional trigger point injection.

Dr. Oline also saw a lot of sacroiliac dysfunction with symptoms into the buttocks and posterior thigh. This usually corrected easily with some hip flexibility stretching and the OMM. This was such a rewarding feeling when patients could stand up off the table and experienced marked symptomatic relief.  

Many times, on military deployment you fill other roles as well. The other hat he wore was ”the" cardiologist for that Middle East region. At times he would have to run from the MTC to the "ER", Emergency Treatment Facility, (EMT) to consult on everything from chest pain evaluations to atrial fibrillation requiring STAT cardioversion or acute pericarditis.  Other duties included reading EKG's and looking up on YouTube how to set up and run an older version of a GE treadmill machine. Then he would also teach a medic how to assist with stress tests, do the procedure, review the results with the patient at that time, then he’d run back to the MTC to type up the results and resume doing family practice.  

As if this wasn’t enough, Dr. Oline does even more. When state side, Dr. Oline serves his community at Langhorne-Middletown Fire Station 21 as an active volunteer firefighter. He graduated the Fire Academy in Croydon, PA, in 2016, and met the national testing standards to be a structural fire fighter. But that is a “Doing More” story for another day.  

As Dr. Oline prepares for his next deployment, he will be lecturing on Friday, May 3rd during the POMA Clinical Assembly. Please show your support and thank him for all he does for his community and his country. 

From all of us at POMA, thank you, DR. OLINE for all you do and for being a DO, DOING MORE.