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Jan 05, 2015

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with newly certified practitioner Daphne Ross, PT, PRPC


Daphne Ross

Describe your clinical practice:

I treat women of all ages, including; pregnancy, postpartum, and post menopausal. I treat a wide variety of diagnoses, including urinary and fecal incontinence, dyspareunia, vaginismus, vestibulitis, interstitial cystitis/painful bladder syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, sacroiliac dysfunction, pubic symphysis dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, pelvic floor muscle dyssynergia, coccydynia, and all types of pelvic pain. I work at a Women’s Health Center and the environment is a serene one. My treatment room is in an isolated area, far from the waiting room and mammography station. The environment couldn’t be more conducive to this type of work. I am fortunate to have an hour with each patient and see patients every week or every other week, depending on the need.


What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?

Jan 02, 2015

This post was written by H&W instructor Peter Philip, PT, ScD, COMT, PRPC, who authored and instructs the Sacroiliac Joint Evaluation and Treatment course. The next SI Joint course will be taking place this January in Seattle.


Peter Philip

Patient one:

55 year old female with complaints of pelvic pain. States that her pain is noted along the deep inguinal region, involving her pubis and labia majora. States that intercourse is difficult, and that she is quite anxious to initiate or participate. She denies trauma, only that she’d been increasing her fitness activities as she’s going to Florida for a winter get-away. She denies changes in her bowel and bladder function, other than intermittent SUI with ‘heavy exercise’.


Clinical testing:

Dec 30, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Hollis Herman, DPT OCS WCS BCB-PMD IF AASECT PRPC, who authored and instructs the Sexual Medicine for Men and Women course. She will be presenting this course in Houston in January!


Hollis Herman

The Sexual Medicine course is perfect to help you, the healthcare professional, feel comfortable and knowledgeable about all sorts of sexual issues. The course is fun, interesting and unlike any other you have taken. It has 3 parts:


Part 1: This is designed to help you get in touch with your attitudes, beliefs, values and biases regarding sexual function. There are questionnaires to fill out and bring with you to the course, movies to watch and books to read. These questionnaires, movies, videos and books will bring up sexual subject matter, questions, images and ideas that may be controversial to you. You will be exposed to many variations in sexual activity and asked your reactions, sexual development, upbringing, feelings and worries you may carry around. In other words, bringing up issues that are potentially keeping you from being as helpful as possible to your patients, yourself, and your own relationship. It sounds scary, but it is not at all because you share only what you want to.


Dec 29, 2014


Catastrophizing is a buzzword in relation to pain, but what does it really mean for our patients and for our plan of care? Catastrophizing, according to Iwaki and colleagues is a maladaptive response to pain, with research supporting the idea that level of catastrophizing behavior may predict a patient's level of function. A terrific blog post on the Psychology Today website by Alice Boyles, PhD, translates the term into everyday symptoms of this behavior. She describes catastrophizing as having 2 parts: predicting a negative outcome, and then concluding that if the negative outcome happens, this would be a catastrophe. Imagine our patients who develop a painful condition, and then jump into a "worst case scenario." A patient who develops pelvic pain may think "I will never get rid of this pain", and then perhaps, "I will never have a partner and a healthy sex life."


Several prior blog posts on the Herman & Wallace website have specifically addressed different conditions and the role of catastrophizing. Some of the posts include the following topics:

Catastrophizing in Male Chronic Pelvic Pain
Lumbopelvic Pain and Catastrophizing in Pregnancy
Psychological Factors in Female Pelvic Pain


The study by Iwaki and colleagues also reported on subdomains of catastrophization and reported that the trait of helplessness was predictive of pain intensity, pain interference and depression, and that magnification of symptoms was predictive of anxiety. Regardless of the extent to which catastrophization impacts healing, being able to reframe pain and healing for our patients becomes a necessity so that the patient can focus on the steps involved in healing. The Institute now offers several continuing education courses designed to teach the therapist skills to address catastrophization including Meditation for Patients and Providers, and Mindfulness-based Biopsychosocial Approach to the Treatment of Chronic Pain.

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.


Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

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

Lymphatic Drainage for Pelvic Pain - Scottsdale, AZ
Apr 11, 2015 - Apr 12, 2015
Location: Evolution Physical Therapy

Assessing and Treating Vulvodynia - Minneapolis, MN
Apr 11, 2015 - Apr 12, 2015
Location: Park Nicollet Clinic--St. Louis Park

Pelvic Floor Level 2B - Columbus, OH (SOLD OUT)
Apr 17, 2015 - Apr 19, 2015
Location: Ohio Health

Athlete and the Pelvic Floor - New York City, NY
Apr 18, 2015 - Apr 19, 2015
Location: Kima - Center for Physiotherapy & Wellness

Pudendal Neuralgia Assessment and Treatment - Salt Lake City, UT
Apr 18, 2015 - Apr 19, 2015
Location: University of Utah Orthopedic Center

Finding the Driver in Pelvic Pain - Milwaukee, WI
Apr 23, 2015 - Apr 25, 2015
Location: Marquette University

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Durham, NC (SOLD OUT!)
Apr 24, 2015 - Apr 26, 2015
Location: Duke University Medical Center

Sexual Medicine for Men and Women - Fairlawn, NJ
Apr 24, 2015 - Apr 26, 2015
Location: Bella Physical Therapy

Bowel Pathology and Function - Kansas City, MO
Apr 25, 2015 - Apr 26, 2015
Location: Saint Luke\'s Health System

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Los Angeles, CA (SOLD OUT)
May 01, 2015 - May 03, 2015
Location: Mount Saint Mary’s University

Pelvic Floor Level 2A - Seattle, WA (Sold Out!)
May 01, 2015 - May 03, 2015
Location: Swedish Medical Center Seattle - Ballard Campus