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Dec 26, 2014

pregnant yoga

If pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is instructed as part of a general exercise class during pregnancy, can this (PFMT) prevent urinary incontinence? A recent post on our site described the systematic review by Bo and colleagues in which the researchers suggested that fitness instructors and coaches should be trained in effective pelvic floor muscle training approaches. A recent article describes such an approach in which a Physical Activity and Sports Sciences graduate instructed in a general exercise class for pregnant women and the class also included PFMT. Nulliparous women completed participation in a pregnancy exercise class (n=63) or a control group (n=89), and in the exercise group, pelvic floor muscle exercises were included. The classes took place 3x/week, for 55-60 minutes each session, for up to 22 weeks, and 8-12 women were in each group class.


Within each exercise class, a typical prenatal program was followed consisting of an 8 minute warm-up, 30 minutes of aerobic training including 10 minutes of strength training, 10 minutes of PFMT and a 7 minute cool-down period. A heart rate monitor and a Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion Scale was used and the women were asked to exercise at a 12-14 on the Borg scale. For pelvic floor muscle training, women were instructed in the anatomy and function of the PFM and in the role of the PFM in urinary incontinence. Although the participants were not formally assessed for correct contractions, the women were instructed in methods of confirming a correct contraction at home such as stopping the flow of urine, self-palpation, or using a mirror to confirm contraction. The PFM exercises started with 1 set of 8 contractions, and the class included both long (6 seconds) and short (1 second) contractions. The participants worked up to a total of 100 exercise contractions that included a combination of short and long contractions, and they were also encouraged to complete the same number of exercises on days outside of class.


Women in the control group received "usual care" including care from a midwife and instruction in pelvic floor muscle health. The outcome tool completed by both groups included the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire- Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF) which was completed prior to and directly following intervention. At the end of the intervention, a significant difference was observed in the women in the exercise group (EG), as 95% of the EG denied leakage, whereas 61% of the control group denied leakage. Of those reporting leakage in the exercise group, the amount of leakage reported was small, and in the control group, amount leaked ranged from small to large. The key points of interest in this study include that first, participation in an exercise group that includes pelvic floor muscle training can prevent urinary incontinence in pregnancy, Secondly, although pelvic muscle function assessment is optimal, participants who did not have PFM contraction confirmed still had positive outcome from the treatment. And because most studies of PFMT are conducted by a physical therapist, this study is unique in its design of having a Physical Activity and Sports Science graduate conduct the intervention.


Dec 23, 2014


One of the challenges in assessing pelvic muscle function in women who have pain is to avoid triggering pain with the assessment tool. This challenge was met by the use of external measuring of pelvic floor muscles using transperineal four-dimensional (4D) ultrasound in this study by Morin and colleagues. Women who were asymptomatic (n=51) and symptomatic (n=49) were assessed with 4D ultrasound in supine with pelvic floor muscles (PFM) at rest and at maximal contraction. The women who were symptomatic were diagnosed with provoked vestibulodynia (PVD) and all of the women in the study were nulliparous. The data collected using the 4D transperineal US included anorectal angle, levator plate angle, displacement of the bladder neck, and levator hiatus.


Results of the study indicated that women with provoked vestibulodynia had a significantly smaller hiatus, smaller anorectal angle, and at rest, a larger levator plate angle. These differences suggested an increase in pelvic floor muscle tone. Additionally, when the PFM were assessed at maximal contraction, subjects with PVD demonstrated smaller changes in levator hiatus narrowing were noted, with decreased displacement of the bladder neck and decreased changes in levator plate and anorectal angles. These changes are believed to demonstrate pelvic floor muscle weakness.


The authors describe the value of the assessment technique, 4D ultrasonography, as having terrific advantage over other research methods due to the lack of required insertion of the US. While pelvic rehabilitation providers may concur that increased pelvic floor muscle tone in association with pelvic muscle weakness is a common clinical finding, research that describes the phenomenon is needed and much appreciated. We continue to find answers in research such as this article that answers the fundamental question: do women who present with pelvic dysfunction demonstrate differences in pelvic muscle health than a pelvic-healthy population? If you would like to learn more about provoked vestibulodynia including evaluation and management, join faculty member Dee Hartmann at the Assessing and Treating Women with Vulvodynia continuing education course. We are currently confirming dates for this course, and if you would like to host the Vulvodynia course, contact us at the Institute!

Dec 22, 2014


The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Guidelines for Prevention of Stroke in Women reports that although stroke is not common during pregnancy, pregnant women are more at risk for stroke than non-pregnant young women. The guidelines describe the pregnancy-related physiologic factors of venous stasis, lower extremity edema, and blood hypercoagulability as factors in increased risk of stroke. Hypertensive disorders during pregnancy including preeclampsia can also increase maternal and fetal risk, with risk factors of obesity, age over 40, multiple pregnancy, and diabetes.


Postpartum hypertensive issues can also be a concern, and providers should be alert to the symptom of headaches as a potential marker of elevated blood pressure. Although rehabilitation professionals should routinely measure blood pressure in patients, numerous studies have demonstrated that we do not. The referenced guidelines give parameters for blood pressure readings for mild, moderate, and severely high blood pressure readings in pregnancy.


High Blood Pressure in Pregnancy
Diastolic (mm Hg)
Systolic (mm Hg)

Mild 90-99 140-149
Moderate 100-109 150-159
Severe ≥110 ≥160


The third trimester and the postpartum period bring the highest risk for stroke, and the authors of the guidelines point out that a stroke can occur with even moderately elevated blood pressure readings. Even if a woman recovers from elevated blood pressure in the peripartum period, she may remain at risk for developing further cardiovascular disease including stroke. Having gestational diabetes, which can later develop into Type 2 diabetes, can also increase stroke risk, meaning that every woman's history related to pregnancy and postpartum cardiovascular health should be taken with interest. Measuring blood pressure regularly is also a habit that therapists must develop.

Dec 19, 2014


A recent on-line, national survey completed in Australia asked women who had completed treatment for breast cancer to answer questions about exercise. 432 women were surveyed about their perceived exercise barriers as well as potential benefits. Although the answers may not be entirely surprising to practitioners who work with women who are participating in cancer rehabilitation, we may be able to learn about ways to support women who are interested in increasing their exercise activities. Women reported challenges of feeling weak, lacking self-discipline, and not making exercise a priority as barriers to exercising. Women also reported enjoying exercising, having improved sense of well-being, and decreased tension and stress when participating in exercise. The authors in this study describe the potential physical benefits of exercise in survivors of breast cancer to include improved cardiorespiratory fitness, strength, energy levels, more effective weight management, and decrease in risk of heart and circulatory disease. Further benefits towards emotional and psychological health are also described in the study and include improved self-esteem, decreased anxiety and depression, and better mood.


With all of these known benefits, what limits exercise participation in women? Consider that a woman who is already dealing with cancer-related fatigue has a small reserve of extra energy. If she participates in exercise, will she have enough energy to prepare healthy foods, or to finish her work, or to interact with her family? Even though the exercises may in the long run increase a woman's energy levels, understanding the choices that she has to make on any given day can help guide the therapist's recommendations. How can you help a patient avoid procrastination, one of the largest perceived barriers to exercise in this study? Perhaps you can help her trouble-shoot the obstacles that she may face in her day and give examples of actions that can set her up for success. These strategies might include preparing her exercise clothing to bring with her for a lunch time walk, or taking a nap at work so that she has enough energy to exercise in the evenings. Engaging a friend to join her for exercise activities or helping her find a comfortable bra- one of the commonly mentioned barriers in the referenced study- may help a woman participate in exercise.


Many pelvic rehabilitation providers are working with women who are dealing with the challenging recovery associated with oncology issues such as breast cancer. Although women may know that exercise is beneficial, the barriers to exercise can limit participation in lifelong healthy habits such as daily exercise. Regardless of the type of cancer a woman is woman is recovering from, being able to dialog about perceived barriers to exercise is valuable. If you are interested in working with more women who are recovering from cancer, or in general would like to know more about exercise and oncology issues, the Institute has an oncology series with topics in breast cancer and pelvic cancer, among others.

Dec 18, 2014


In patients who failed to respond to biofeedback therapy alone for anismus, authors in this study reported a beneficial, although temporary, effect of using botulinum toxin type A injection (BTX-A injection) to the puborectalis and external sphincter muscles. Anismus is more commonly referred to as dyssynergic defecation, or an inability to properly lengthen the pelvic floor muscles during emptying of the bowels. 31 patients who had been treated with and failed "simple biofeedback training" were then treated with BTX-A injection followed by biofeedback training. 18 males and 13 females with a mean age of 50 and a mean duration of constipation of 5.6 years were diagnosed with defecation dysfunction, or anismus. Diagnosis of animus was made using anorectal manometry, balloon expulsion test, surface electromyography (EMG) of the pelvic floor, and defecography.


Pelvic floor muscle training included biofeedback therapy consisting of intra-anal surface EMG and electrotherapy (although the way the methods are described make determining if both EMG and electrotherapy were completed with internal sensors difficult). Treatment occurred 1-2 times/day for 30 minutes per session (15 minutes of electrotherapy and 15 minutes of biofeedback). Frequency of the electrotherapy was 10 Mz, 10 seconds of "considerable sensation without…pain" and 10 seconds of rest. During biofeedback sessions, pelvic muscle strengthening and relaxation was also instructed. Therapy occurred for up to one month, and patients were instructed to continue with therapeutic exercises at home. The researchers followed up one month after the injection and therapy, and 6-12 months after intervention by telephone.


The subjects in this study suffered from difficult and incomplete evacuation, use of laxatives, and chronic straining during defecation. The repeated measures for diagnostic criteria that were completed after intervention found improvements in the subjects' resting anal canal pressures and with the balloon expulsion test and constipation scoring system. The authors also reported adverse effects of BTX-A injections including fecal incontinence. Conclusions of the article include that the botox injections were considered a temporary treatment for defecation dysfunction, whereas the botox injection combined with pelvic floor biofeedback training is "a more valid way to treat."


Dec 17, 2014


Pelvic rehabilitation therapists working with men who have sexual dysfunction may be aware of the work of Grace Dorey, who published a randomized, controlled trial about pelvic muscle strengthening for erectile dysfunction. A recent article published in the Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association confirms the conclusion of Dorey and colleagues that pelvic muscle rehabilitation is beneficial in improving erectile dysfunction.


In the study out of France by Lavosier and colleagues, 122 men with erectile dysfunction and 108 men with premature ejaculation completed twenty 30-minute sessions of pelvic muscle strengthening with active contraction and electrical stimulation. In the study, a penile cuff placed around the shaft of the penis measured intracavernous pressure, electrodes applied to the "upper face of the penis shaft" provided electrostimulation at 80 Hz to the ischiocavernosus muscles, and a vibrator device applied to the glans penis provided stimulation for erection. A large computer screen displayed contractions, and the patient was allowed to increase the level of electrotherapy stimulation to maximal sensory stimulation below pain threshold. Contractions were completed at the patient's own pace in regards to frequency and duration, but each patient did have feedback about his contraction on the computer monitor in front of him. Patients were also given an intracavernosal injection aimed to create an erection lasting 30 minutes.


The authors describe the erection process as being both vascular and muscular, with the ischiocavernosus muscle having a significant role in erections and in ejaculation. The ischiocavernosus muscle, which is a muscle of the superficial layer in the perineum, attaches along the ischiopubic ramus and wraps around the proximal superior portion of the penis to have an effect on penile rigidity. Contractions of the ischiocavernosus appear to maintain the rigidity of the penis through compression of the roots of the corpus cavernosum, the upper portions of the penis where blood fills in the spaces.


Dec 16, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Ramona Horton MPT, who authored and instructs the Visceral Mobilization Series. Visceral Mobilization of The Urologic System & Visceral Mobilization of the Reproductive System will be presented throughout 2015.


Ramona Horton

As the instructor and developer of the curriculum for the visceral mobilization series, I am frequently asked for evidence of the efficacy of VMT. In order to gain an understand of why a physical therapist who has spent their entire career treating the somatic structures would possibly want to “manipulate” the internal organs one needs to understand a few basic facts. First: the visceral structures carry a significant mass within the human body and are subject to the same laws of physics as the locomotor system. Second: VMT is simply a form of soft tissue manual therapy that addresses the connective tissue and ligamentous attachments of the above mentioned visceral structures to the somatic frame.


There are multiple studies that demonstrate positive clinical outcomes from VMT, to mention a few are treatment of postoperative adhesions/ilius (Bove, Chappelle), chronic constipation (Harington, Tarsuslu), dysfunctional voiding (Nemett, Helge), mechanical infertility (Kramp, Wern) and low back pain (Michallet, Tozi, McSweeney.) I could write a multitude of paragraphs reviewing the above listed publications but that would steal all of the thunder for my upcoming lecture on the topic to be presented at CSM 2015 titled “Visceral Manipulation: Fact and Fantasy”. Therefore, the following is a completely un-scientific case study complete with visual demonstration… as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, besides we all love a good patient story.


Dec 15, 2014


Incontinence-associated dermatitis causes a range of signs and symptoms, and yet the potential impact of skin breakdown may lead to serious, even life-threatening consequences. Although patients of any functional status or within any treatment setting may be at risk for developing the condition. An article from Beeckman et al. in the British Journal of Nursing describes both the chemical and physical irritation of the skin that occurs when urine or feces remains in contact with the perineal skin. According to this article, urine and feces can cause an increase in the pH levels, and subsequently increase skin permeability, reduce barrier function, and increase the risk of bacterial colonization. Rubbing of the skin on clothing, pads or diapers, or surfaces such as a bed or chair creates friction and can further irritate the skin. The linked article focuses on the differentiation between incontinence-associated dermatitis (AID) and pressure ulcers, and is available for free, full access via the link above if you are interested in learning more about the concept.


If the skin dysfunction is limited to IAD, the pelvic rehabilitation provider may observe rash and erythema with possible skin breakdown, or infections such as candidiasis. Unless a therapist is trained in assessing for pressure ulcers, any new or worsened skin breakdown should be brought to the attention of a physician, nurse, or physician extender who is working with the patient. One of the challenges in perineal skin irritation is that the patient may not be able to easily observe the skin and report new onset or worsening of symptoms. In an outpatient setting, even when working with patients who do not have limited mobility or self-care skills, observing the perineal skin remains critical in documenting skin integrity, persistent issues, or a worsening of a condition. Because, as the authors of this study point out, care for skin ulcers and incontinence-associated dermatitis are different, early recognition and proper diagnosis aids in healing.


Following are some recommendations by Beeckman and colleagues for avoiding skin irritation in the presence of incontinence:

•A perineal cleanser should be used that has a pH range of 5.4-5.9
•Perineal skin should be cleaned quickly following an episode of fecal incontinence, whereas avoiding too-frequent skin washing with continual episodes of urinary incontinence is important
•Moisturizing the skin (with emolient-based rather than humectant-based moisturizer) is valuable in aiding healing and preventing further irritation
•Use a skin protectant to create a barrier between the skin and feces or urine
•Absorptive or containment products (catheter or stool diversion system) can further help keep irritants away from the skin surface


Dec 12, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Michelle Lyons, PT, MISCP, who authored and instructs the course, Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach. She will be presenting this course this February in Florida!


Michelle Lyons

Menopause is often euphemistically referred to as ‘The Change’. Historically it was treated with everything from hysterectomy to hormones, and even hospitalization (often in psychiatric institutions). Dr Christiane Northrup writes “Perimenopause is a normal process, not a disease.” But she also writes “It’s no secret that women experience a decrease in their sex drive during perimenopause.”


But according to a study presented by Gavrilov in 2007, American women aged fifty five and older enjoy sex more than women a decade ago who were the same age. Today’s menopausal women, they report, consider a healthy sex life to be part of a healthy lifestyle.


Dec 11, 2014

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with newly certified practitioner Lauren Mansell DPT, CYT, PRPC


Lauren Mansell

If you could get a message out to physical therapists about pelvic rehabilitation what would it be?

Know what questions to ask in order to refer patients to us for treatment. Our patients often feel alone, are frustrated with medical treatments, and feel like no one can address their symptoms. Pelvic rehab specialists are orthopedic specialists. Try and see our similarities rather than differences.


How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?

Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach - Orlando, FL
Feb 21, 2015 - Feb 22, 2015
Location: Florida Hospital Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation

Breast Oncology - Phoenix, AZ
Feb 21, 2015 - Feb 22, 2015
Location: Spooner Physical Therapy

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Houston, TX
Feb 27, 2015 - Mar 01, 2015
Location: Texas Children’s Hospital

Special Topics in Women's Health - San Diego, CA
Feb 28, 2015 - Mar 01, 2015
Location: Comprehensive Therapy Services

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Bayshore, NY (SOLD OUT!)
Mar 01, 2015 - Mar 03, 2015
Location: Touro College: Bayshore

Care of the Pregnant Patient - Seattle, WA
Mar 07, 2015 - Mar 08, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

Pilates for the Pelvic Floor - Denver, CO
Mar 07, 2015 - Mar 08, 2015
Location: Cherry Creek Wellness Center

Pelvic Floor Level 3 - Fairfield, CA
Mar 13, 2015 - Mar 15, 2015
Location: NorthBay HealthCare

Male Pelvic Floor - Nashville, TN
Mar 14, 2015 - Mar 15, 2015
Location: Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Denver, CO (SOLD OUT!)
Mar 20, 2015 - Mar 22, 2015
Location: University of Colorado Hospital

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Madison, WI
Mar 20, 2015 - Mar 22, 2015
Location: Meriter Hospital

Coccyx Pain - Torrance, CA
Mar 28, 2015 - Mar 29, 2015
Location: HealthCare Partners - Torrance

Hip Labrum Injuries - Houston, TX
Mar 28, 2015 - Mar 29, 2015
Location: Women's Hospital of Texas

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Seattle, WA (SOLD OUT!)
Apr 03, 2015 - Apr 05, 2015
Location: Swedish Medical Center Seattle - Ballard Campus

Myofascial Release for Pelvic Dysfunction - Tampa, FL
Apr 10, 2015 - Apr 12, 2015
Location: Florida Hospital - Wesley Chapel