My interest in women’s health physical therapy first began when I was working as a rehab technician in a clinic with two pelvic floor therapists. My personal interest was piqued after my own experiences before, during, and after childbirth. Interested to learn more once I began physical therapy school, I spent time during my winter break in 2017 to shadow a women’s health specialist. I was delighted to observe how large of an impact patient education could make for the pelvic health patient population.
In summer 2018, I completed a course in women’s health, which included lectures on pelvic pain, prolapse, gynecological surgeries, the transgender client, and incontinence and bowel disorders. A primary focus of the course was on clinical experience, and I was able to spend time in the clinic with a certified Women’s Health specialist and aide in patient care. I gained familiarity in conducting evaluations for a wide range of patients, from pediatric to geriatric, for a variety of pelvic diagnoses.
At the conclusion of my women’s health module, I presented an in-service on the current research on urinary incontinence on individuals after stroke, focusing specifically on the acute and inpatient rehabilitative setting. I chose this topic because I aim to expand the role of pelvic physical therapy beyond the outpatient setting in my future practice. Inpatient and skilled nursing facilities can largely benefit from programs in continence and bowel management.
The current research demonstrates that urinary incontinence continues to be a strong predictor of functional outcome for patients recovering from stroke. I hope to play a key role by educating patients and other healthcare professionals on pelvic health. Driven by my personal experience, and strengthened by my education and professional training, I plan to incorporate aspects of pelvic floor health into my practice as a PT and also through program development in multiple settings.
At the 2018 Combined Sections Meeting, I attended presentations by the Section on Women’s Health to broaden my knowledge of women’s health and pelvic health physical therapy, I was particularly inspired by sessions like Pelvis, Power, and the Passenger: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Birth Outcomes as well as Complex Cases in Women’s and Men’s Health (an annually recurring session presented by SoWH), which demonstrated the wide range of pelvic floor physical therapy practice. I am currently a member of the SoWH and look forward exploring future volunteer opportunities and connecting with other members. My future plans include attending the 2019 the Combined Sections Meeting in Washington D.C. and volunteering at the SoWH booth to share my enthusiasm with fellow students and clinicians.