ORADELL, N.J. — Not only does former Oradell physician David Abend have all of his tools at his fingertips — his fingertips are some of his tools.
The osteopathic physician uses his hands to feel, diagnose and help reduce pain by gently applying pressure.
“What makes me different from other doctors is that a significant part of my medical training is hands-on,” said Abend, a graduate of Kirksville College, the founding school of osteopathic medicine.
“We learn to use our hands to diagnose — and in doing so, we can use our hands to help the body heal faster.”
Osteopathic medicine was founded in the late 1800s by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still, whose notion that the body has an inherited ability to heal itself later became the movement's foundation.
Among those treated by Abend was notable osteopathy advocate -- and former U.S. president -- Richard Nixon.
"I'll never forget it," said Abend, who is double-board certified in Family Practice, and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine. "He came walking in wearing a blue pinstripe suit and red neck tie."
Abend last month passed his recertification exam in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment and Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine.
Nixon complimented Abend on his "very strong hands" but wasn't able to return for further treatment before passing away in 1994.
Abend said his faith in his manual techniques was restored after volunteering his time in a small, Staten Island eatery following 9/11.
"The power of touch is very underestimated by the medical establishment," Abend said. "The chiropractors, massage therapists and few doctors of osteopathy like me who do this provide relief for people who can't get it. Mine is covered by insurance."
Abend also serves as the Director of the Department of Family Practice at The Valley Hospital.
Having a name found near the top of alphabetized doctors helps bring new patients in, after which Abend hopes to leave a lasting "impression."
"Where else in medicine can you get something that feels good?" Abend asked. "No one has ever walked away thanking their doctor for a shot.
"I like using my hands to help."