Meet Grace Waters, SPT
Women’s health physical therapy has been an interest of mine since I started physical therapy school two years ago at Tennessee State University. The research I have assisted with during PT school explores an episiotomy’s effect on postnatal urinary incontinence. While conducting the literature review for this topic, I was astonished to discover the scarcity of quality and current research regarding postnatal urinary incontinence. Articles on the subject have been published, but few have high quality methods and results. We recently covered the women’s health portion of our curriculum. A pelvic floor specialist talked to our class about the types of patients she sees, common pathologies involved, and various treatment techniques available to treat patients experiencing pathologies related to the pelvic floor.
I knew I enjoyed learning about women’s health and pelvic floor issues from my research experience, but I was completely enamored by the topic in class. The one day we had devoted to pelvic health has completely shaped how I view patient care. For example, I have spent the last week in a clinical experience at a skilled nursing facility, and 100% of the patients I see wear Depends Underwear. Nearly every patient I have worked with in the last week experiences urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, or a combination of the two.
Many of these patients have fallen in an attempt to get to the bathroom, and more experience involuntary voiding during therapy sessions. I am learning through experience that we are providing a massive disservice to our patients by not addressing these highly treatable pelvic floor issues. I will be attending the Section on Women’s Health Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Level 1 class so that I can provide wellness to my future patients rather than only providing treatments for mobility impairments. I want to help my patients walk safely in their homes and gain the strength to return to their activities, but I do not want my therapy to end there. Pelvic health is integrated into all aspects of our life, and we are providing poor health care by not addressing these issues.
Physical therapists make a measurable difference in patients’ lives, but women’s health physical therapists change lives. An extraordinary number of people have urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or other pelvic floor problems that will remain unaddressed because it is not currently common practice in healthcare to address these concerns. I feel so passionately about advocating for pelvic health education and the life-altering treatments related to women’s health that are not well known among the general population. I want people to feel comfortable discussing pelvic health issues, understand that incontinence is not normal for women, and know where to go for non-surgical treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction.