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May 28, 2015

Physical therapist, educator, researcher, and clinical instructor Daniel Kirages, who was mentioned in Do Male Therapists Belong in Pelvic Rehab: Part I, shares his viewpoint from the perspective of his various roles.

 

“As a male, how did you get involved in pelvic rehab?” This is a question I have been asked countless times and the answer can be pretty simple, I usually say “It’s really not much different than any other musculoskeletal related issue. I’m just not afraid of working below the belt.” Working within the domain of neuro-musculo-skeletal physical therapy offers an endless supply of opportunities. Pelvic rehab is just one subcategory amongst many and this can be further subdivided into several categorizations as well – incontinence, voiding dysfunction, pain, etc. Despite a heavy dose of specialized knowledge necessary for these topics, ultimately we view the patient/client using a similar lens as any neuro-musculo-skeletal condition. This would include the need to examine and intervene for identified deficits in motor coordination, mobility, flexibility, strength, awareness and knowledge. Therefore, all PTs are primed to enter the world of pelvic rehab and they should consider “uploading the mental software” of pelvic specific knowledge by taking courses and finding a mentor to get started.

 

Being a male within what is typically considered a female related health domain never really bothered me. It just made me witness what a great opportunity it is and how I can be somewhat unique with my practice because there was and still is a need for more male PTs to be involved in pelvic rehab. Early on in my career I would see more females than I do now because our clinic needed the coverage and I wanted to use all aspects of the pelvic related knowledge I acquired. There was never an issue because the patients were willing to work with me; it was not a big deal to them because most of the time a male physician referred them to me in the first place. I would protect myself from any concerns by having a female aide or student be my chaperone in the room. This way a witness was present. It was not a burden on the clinic in any way, and actually the chaperones reported feeling very enlightened about what I do and I believe having a chaperone comforted the patient as well. The male patients I treat are so grateful and many express how they would be uncomfortable with a female therapist although they would go "if they had to". Of course, we as the practitioners know that the care offered by a PT of any gender will be therapeutic and professional, but the patient would not know until they had a positive experience. Some of my patients have avoided going to PT for their pelvic dysfunction until they discovered they can see a male PT. Unfortunate, but true.

 


May 19, 2015

This question is one that, a decade ago, may have made more sense to ask, as very few male therapists were engaged in the world of pelvic rehabilitation. Most pelvic rehabilitation practices still stem from programs developed in "Women's Health" so it's logical to see more female patients being treated, usually by female therapists. We are at an exciting time in the healing professions, and particularly in pelvic rehabilitation, when choice of provider may come to be based more on experience, personality and qualifications of the treating therapist than on the provider's or patient's gender. At the Institute's most recent entry-level Pelvic Floor 1 (PF1) courses, 2 male therapists were in attendance at 2 different PF1 courses on opposite sides of the nation. This shift (we tend to have an occasional male therapist within the pelvic floor series courses) has been noticed, and at the Institute, we have committed efforts at exploring if and how this shift affects our coursework. For example, are the instructors comfortable, are the female participants cool with it, and do the men feel welcomed? To find out a little more about the subject, I bring your attention to a few of the men who are currently representing the field of pelvic health.

 

Herman & Wallace Institute faculty member, Peter Philip, has treated both men and women in his practice for years. This treatment involves internal assessment and intervention when needed, and Peter approaches all of his patients with the same matter-of-fact, clearly defined consent. As a private practice owner, it makes sense that Peter is able to retain his patients regardless of the condition for which they are seeking care. Having to refer a patient to another therapist or clinic would negate the ability for a therapist to provide comprehensive care. On his website you will find a listing of women's health issues described next to sports, work, and other lifestyle injuries.

 

I posed the following question to Jake Bartholomy , physical therapist in Seattle, Washington: "Why is it so important for a male therapist to be involved in pelvic rehab, regardless if the goal is to focus on working with male or female or other gendered patients?" Jake's response reflects the value of offering choices to the patients he serves: "I believe it's important for people to have a choice in their therapist. Many people are shy and nervous to discuss their pelvic issues and if male or transgendered patients are more comfortable working with a male therapist, I'm proud to offer that service in the Seattle area."

 

I recall meeting Daniel Kirages, physical therapist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California, at a male pelvic floor course years ago. When he introduced himself to the group, he joked that he was there as the token male "to break up the girl party." While this joke has stuck with me, it also drives home the point that it takes courage to show up at coursework which has previously been dominated by female therapists. Daniel has been involved in research, teaching in the classroom and online, and lecturing nationally about pelvic rehab.


May 18, 2015

If you area clinic owner, are in a management or leadership position, one of your jobs is making sure your therapists are using best practices. This can be a challenge when best practices are continually being researched and discussed, and when systematic reviews continue to tell us that pelvic rehabilitation research lacks homogeneity and enough high-level evidence to make convincing arguments about interventions. In the absence of this, we can still integrate recommendations from clinical practice guidelines and from best practice statements. The American Physical Therapy Association's (APTA) Section on Women's Health (SOWH) is participating in the APTA's initiative to develop clinical practice guidelines. For current guidelines, check out their page here. To see which guidelines are in development at the APTA, click here.

 

The American Urological Association (AUA) has also developed practice guidelines, including the Guideline on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome (IC/PBS). Within this guideline, the first line treatments are listed as general relaxation/stress management, pain management, patient education, and self-care/behavioral modification. Second-line treatments include "appropriate manual physical therapy techniques", oral medications, bladder medications (administered inside the bladder), and pain management. What is very interesting about this guideline is that the authors define what types of manual therapy approaches are appropriate, and these include techniques that resolve muscle tenderness, lengthen shortened muscles, release painful scars or other connective tissue restrictions. The guidelines also define who should be working with patients who have IC/PBS and pelvic muscle tenderness: "appropriately trained clinicians". Very importantly, the authors state that pelvic floor strengthening exercises should be avoided.

 

How can these guidelines be used to assess best practices? Find out if your therapists who work with patients who have IC/PBS are indeed instructing in relaxation strategies, using pain education and pain management techniques (for pain-brain education specific to pelvic pain, check out the book "Why Pelvic Pain Hurts". Find out if your therapist is instructing in pelvic muscle strengthening as a first-line of treatment, since this would not be in line with the AUA guidelines. (Having said this, teaching pelvic muscle strengthening can be very appropriate when done with consideration of pelvic muscle pain.) Lastly, ask your therapist if she feels that her skill set and training is sufficient to treat the condition. Even in our comprehensive pelvic floor series, there is so much to learn at the initial course that IC/PBS is not discussed in great detail until PF2B. Maybe a little more knowledge and training would help your therapist feel that she is providing the "appropriate manual physical therapy techniques" recommended in the guidelines.

 


May 15, 2015

Many diagnoses that live under the umbrella of "chronic pelvic pain" have similar symptoms, confounding the differential diagnosis and development of a treatment pathway. Dr. Charles Butrick, in an article published in 2007, suggested that gynecologists "…be alert to…interstitial cystitis in patients who present with chronic pelvic pain typical of endometriosis." The concurrent conditions of bladder pain syndrome (BPS) and endometriosis have been described as "evil twins syndrome" in the realm of chronic pelvic pain. Bladder pain syndrome. also known as Interstitial Cystitis (IC), is a condition commonly associated with pelvic pain, bladder pressure, and urinary dysfunction such as urgency and frequency. Endometriosis can also cause or contribute to pelvic pain, and a variety of pelvic dysfunctions including bowel, bladder, or sexual dysfunction.

 

A study published in the International Journal of Surgery reported on the prevalence of these two conditions. Utilizing a systematic review approach, the authors located articles reporting on the prevalence of bladder pain syndrome and endometriosis in women with chronic pelvic pain. Nine observational studies were included, and the range of endometriosis diagnosis ranged from 11%-97%, with a mean prevalence of 61%. The prevalence of endometriosis ranged from 28%-93% with a mean prevalence of 70%. The large variation in these rates were explained as potentially being due to the variations in study quality and sample selection. (The authors point out that the highest rates of prevalence for BPS and endometriosis were noted in the patient groups recruited from specialist clinics and from lists of patients from operating lists.) The study concludes that in women who present with chronic pelvic pain (CPP), screening for bladder pain syndrome is important so that appropriate treatment can be directed to all issues.

 

If another chronic pelvic pain condition, pudendal neuralgia, is added to the diagnoses of endometriosis and painful bladder syndrome, "evil triplet syndrome" can be experienced by a patient. The various symptoms of each of these conditions can add to the total level of pain and dysfunction experienced by a woman with chronic pelvic pain. Having the tools to evaluate and treat symptomatology and address the chronic aspect of tissue, joint, neural, myofascial, and the processing of pain is a skill that most pelvic rehabilitation therapists continue to work on throughout their careers. Michelle Lyons, faculty member from Ireland, brings her "Special Topics in Women's Health" course to Chicago in a couple of weeks. Within the course, Michelle will be discussing each of these conditions from the standpoint of a multidisciplinary approach, and with the role of the pelvic rehabilitation provider in mind. She will also be sharing up-to-date and practical information about infertility and hysterectomy. If you are interested in joining Michelle and colleagues in Chicago, you still have time to sign up! And if you would like to host Michelle's course in your facility, give us a call or send us a note!


May 11, 2015

Even after teaching for a couple of decades, both in graduate level courses and in continuing education settings (live and online), I am humbled by all there is to learn and relearn about how to teach well. We all teach every day, regardless of what setting or roles we work in, and are required to share our thoughts and knowledge with respect, equanimity, and non-judgement. After teaching a course last month, I received feedback about an important topic that was not clearly addressed from an instructional or clinical standpoint, and the participant who brought it to my attention agreed to share her experience so that we as pelvic rehab providers can do a better job of addressing the issue when needed. The following post was written by Erin B. after I encouraged her to share her own thoughts about the issue.

 

"Having recently participated in the PF1 class after several years out of the classroom-style of continuing education, I made a few observations I felt compelled to share. (I do want to preface this with the fact that I am fully aware that my own insecurities play a role in my experiences and I recognize that they may alter my judgment of the situation.)

 

I am 5' 4" and currently 240 pounds. Although that is 50 pounds lighter than I was 6 months prior to attending this class, it is still significantly larger than 90% of the class participants, lab assistants and instructors. I am not someone who feels that fat is healthy. I do not feel that you need to act like I am in as good of shape as anyone else in the room. However, I do feel that there are certain assumptions made about me that are based on my physical appearance alone. Take a minute and think about your first reaction to seeing a person who is obviously overweight. (I do realize that I have made my own assumptions about some of you as well!) Just because you are much thinner and more fit looking I assume you exercise regularly, you always eat healthy and you judge me negatively for my appearance. I do know that my assumptions about you may be just as wrong as what I believe you assumed about me. However, when I see that the larger people in class have placed themselves more to the back of the room, when I have a hard time finding a lab partner and when the lab instructor struggles with how to say to the partner that got stuck with me "things may be different on her", I begin to feel like I am taking something away from the class experience for everyone else. I do not want to hinder another clinician's learning process so I don't push anyone to be my partner, but then I am actually denying myself the learning opportunities I came for. Not to mention that I may be denying the other participants the opportunity to learn how to handle a client that may look and feel like me.

 


May 01, 2015

Today on the Pelvic Rehab Report, we hear from Dustienne Miller. Dustienne wrote and teaches the Yoga for Pelvic Pain course, which is available in Cleveland, OH on July 18-19, and in Boston, MA on September 12-13.

 

"It feels like my pelvic floor just sighed."

 

Grounding in Mountain Pose

 

As musculoskeletal professionals, we have a sharp eye for postural dysfunction. We explain to our patients that the ribcage is sheared posteriorly to the plumb line and how gravity magnifies forces at specific structures. Some physical therapists perform the Vertical Compression Test (VCT) to allow the patient to feel the difference between their typical habitual posture and a more optimally aligned posture. This works well to “sell” your patients on why their newly aligned posture allows for more efficient weight transfer through the base of support. In addition to the VCT, I utilize Tadasana, or Mountain Pose as an additional kinesthetic approach to postural retraining.

 


Apr 29, 2015

Much has been made of the research indicating that a Caesarean section has a protective effect on the pelvic floor, with some women requesting a CS in order to avoid pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). This practices raises concern about an elective approach to CS versus natural vaginal birth, as CS are by no means without risk to the mother, the fetus, and to the neuromusculoskeletal system. Recent research contributes to this discussion by assessing several variables including quality of life factors and pelvic dysfunction following either a CS or natural vaginal birth. Twenty one women who had given birth in the prior 36 months were recruited from daycare facilities. Subjects were categorized into normal vaginal delivery (NVD) or Caesarean section (CS). Subjects were only included if they gave birth to singletons, had not previously participated in pelvic rehabilitation, or if they did not had a history of pelvic surgery, neurologic issues or trauma that affected bowel and bladder function. Outcomes tools included the SF-36, and the Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory (PFDI). Within the PFDI, outcomes tools assessed urinary, colorectal, prolapse, and pelvic floor functional impact.

 

Nearly 70% of the women in the group studied were between the ages of 30 and 39, with ages ranging from 21-45. The number of subjects who had given birth vaginally was 16, by Caesarean section, 5. The authors report that approximately 75% of their subjects were Caucasian, had a household income of 70,000 or more, and nearly 80% had at least a four-year degree. The women in the CS group reported higher rates of urinary incontinence and pelvic pain (90% and 67%, respectively) when compared to the NVD group (50% and 23%). Women who gave birth via CS also had higher mean scores on the Urinary Distress Inventory, Colorectal-Anal Distress Inventory, and the Pelvic Organ Prolapse Distress Inventory. The authors also noted a correlation between pelvic organ prolapse and body mass index (BMI) greater than 25.

 

This research contributes to the literature about birth mode and pelvic dysfunction, and the study conflicts with other data that describes a protective effect of Caesarean birth mode on the pelvic floor. While avoiding vaginal delivery may indeed help reduce some injury to the pelvic floor, this study, even though the sample size was not large, reminds us that CS delivery can be associated with pelvic dysfunction and symptoms. This study was different from many prior reports in that the subjects were surveyed in the chronic rather than immediate postpartum period. If you are interested in learning more about postpartum rehabilitation, check out the Institute's offerings on this page: http://hermanwallace.com/postpartum.


Apr 28, 2015

Bowel dysfunction is a common condition with potential for devastating limitation in a person's quality of life. Constipation, one type of bowel dysfunction, is often associated with an ability to properly coordinate the pelvic floor muscles during an attempt to empty the bowels. Instead of the pelvic floor muscles lengthening to allow the anorectal angle to increase (reducing the "bend" in the distal part of the rectum) the pelvic floor muscles might contract and thereby restrict proper emptying of the bowels. When this "opposite" or "paroxysmal" contraction occurs, a patient may be diagnosed with paroxysmal pelvic muscle function, also called dyssynergic defecation because of the lack of coordination in the muscles.

 

A recent study demonstrated that biofeedback therapy can be an effective tool in improving pelvic floor function for patients who demonstrate dyssynergic defecation. Magnetic resonance defecography (MR defecography) was measured prior to and after intervention, with variables of anorectal angle and perineal descent among those studied. Standard therapy was administered to 11 patients diagnosed with dyssynergia, and 11 patients received biofeedback therapy. All patients met the Rome diagnostic criteria for functional constipation, and all patients had diagnostic testing with resultant evidence of dyssynergistic muscle patterns. In addition to the MR defecography as a pre- and post-test, patients completed assessments of symptoms, quality of life, and severity of depression.

 

Standard therapy consisted of instructions in bowel habits, daily exercise such as walking, diaphragmatic breathing, fiber and fluid intake, defecation techniques, and timed toileting (such as attempting bowel movement 30 minutes after eating). Therapy occurred over a period of 3 months with at least once per week phone supervision. The patients in the biofeedback group were instructed in concepts of dyssynergia and in contract-relax training. Rectal sensory training with a rectal balloon was utilized if the patient had poor sensory perception. Patients were trained how to increase intrabdominal pressure while relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. They were also instructed in pelvic floor muscle strengthening, relaxation, and coordination, and were asked to complete home exercises three times per day for 10 minutes. Clinic sessions occurred at twice per week for 12 visits, then once per week for 6 visits, or a total of 18 visits over 3 months.

 


Apr 21, 2015

With words like jumping, diving, spiking, hitting, and blocking making up the game's activities, volleyball is clearly a sport that requires a healthy pelvic floor. We know that athletes are at risk for pelvic dysfunction, with symptoms ranging from tension to leakage, but what happens when the pelvic floor is reeducated? In a study addressing volleyball players, researchers assess the effectiveness of a pelvic muscle rehabilitation program on symptoms of urinary incontinence. 32 female athletes were divided evenly between a control group and an experimental group. Inclusions criteria for the sample was nulliparity, symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, age between 13 and 30, and leakage amount more than 1 gram on the pad weight test. Exclusion criteria is as follows: treatment time of less than six months, sport practice for less than two years, urinary tract infections (either current or repeated prior infections), intervention adherence less than 50%, or body mass index outside of the range of 18-25.

 

Before and after intervention, the athletes were given a baseline questionnaire, a pad test (in the first 15 minutes of volleyball practice), and they completed seven days of a bladder diary to track leakage. The treatment group were instructed in anatomy and physiology of the lower urinary tract, about urinary incontinence (UI) and UI in athletes, and in leakage prevention strategies. A 3-day bladder diary was completed to improve awareness of fluid intake and bladder habits. Pelvic muscle awareness and correct contractions, doing protective pre-contractions of the pelvic floor, and a home exercise program of quick and endurance pelvic muscle contractions in different positions were also instructed.

 

The results of the intervention include a significant decrease in urinary leakage in the treatment group. The education provided also allowed for prevention of negative coping strategies that were reported in the subjects: the athletes would conceal leakage by wearing a menstrual pad, decreased their fluid intake, or empty their bladder more frequently. This study contributes to the growing body of evidence linking sport to pelvic dysfunction, and more importantly, rehabilitation efforts to improvement. If you want to learn more about pelvic dysfunction in athletes, come to The Athlete and the Pelvic Floor with Michelle Lyons. This 2-day continuing education course took place recently in New York City and your next opportunity to take the class is in Denver in October!


Apr 17, 2015

Blog by Holly Tanner

In the treatment of pelvic dysfunction, collaboration among physicians and pelvic rehabilitation providers creates an optimal care situation for the patient. In a research article that will be published in the July issue of Journal of Lower Genital Tract Disease, physical therapist and Herman & Wallace Institute faculty member Stacey Futterman demonstrates how a partnership between disciplines provides information valuable to the field of pelvic rehabilitation. Stacey and physicians Deborah Coady, Dena Harris, and Straun Coleman hypothesized that persistent vulvar pain may be generated by femoroactebular impingement (FIA) and the resultant effects on pelvic floor muscles. Through the research, the authors attempted to determine if hip arthroscopy was a beneficial intervention for vulvar pain, and if so, which patient characteristics influenced improvements.

 

Twenty six patients diagnosed with generalized, unprovoked vulvodynia or clitorodynia underwent arthroscopy for femoroacetabular impingement. For 3-6 months following hip repair, patients were treated with physical therapy that included surgical postoperative rehabilitation combined with rehabilitation for vulvodynia. Time period for follow-up data collection ranged from 36-58 months. Six patients reported improvements in vulvar pain following surgery and did not require further treatment, and it is noted that these patients were all in the youngest age bracket (22-29). Among the patients who did not report sustained relief, relatively older ages (33-74) were noted, along with a tendency to have vulvar pain for 5 years or longer.

 

The relationship between hip and pelvic pain may come from the bony structures, hip muscles including but not limited to the obturator internus, and nerves such as the pudendal. The authors conclude that "All women with vulvodynia need to be routinely assessed for pelvic floor and hip disorders…" and if needed, treatment should be implemented to address the appropriate tissue dysfunctions. If you are interested in learning more about hip dysfunction so you can better screen for dysfunction such as femoroacetabular impingement, check out faculty member Steve Dischiavi's continuing education course. Biomechanical Assessment of the Hip & Pelvis: Manual Movement Therapy and the Myofascial Sling System takes place next in Durham, North Carolina in May.


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Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Special Topics in Women's Health - Maywood, IL
May 30, 2015 - May 31, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Sacroiliac Joint Evaluation and Treatment - Middletown, CT
May 30, 2015 - May 31, 2015
Location: Middlesex Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Seattle, WA (Sold Out!)
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Swedish Medical Center Seattle - Ballard Campus

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Atlanta, GA
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: One on One Physical Therapy

Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Madison, WI
Jun 05, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Meriter Hospital

Nutritional Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist - Seattle, WA
Jun 06, 2015 - Jun 07, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Orthopedic Topics - Baltimore, MD
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 13, 2015
Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Rehabilitative Ultra Sound Imaging: Women's Health and Orthopedic Topics - Baltimore, MD
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015
Location: Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Boston, MA (SOLD OUT!)
Jun 12, 2015 - Jun 14, 2015
Location: Marathon Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Derby, CT (SOLD OUT)
Jun 26, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015
Location: Griffin Hospital

Breast Oncology - Maywood, IL
Jun 27, 2015 - Jun 28, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Chronic Pelvic Pain - Arlington, VA
Jul 10, 2015 - Jul 12, 2015
Location: Virginia Hospital Center

Myofascial Release for Pelvic Dysfunction - Winfield, IL
Jul 17, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: Central DuPage Hospital Conference Room

Pediatric Incontinence - Houston, TX
Jul 18, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: Texas Children’s Hospital

Yoga for Pelvic Pain - Cleveland, OH
Jul 18, 2015 - Jul 19, 2015
Location: UH Case Medical Center - University Hospitals