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Sep 24, 2014

This post was written by H&W instructor Michelle Lyons, PT, MISCP. Michelle will be instructing her course "Menopause: A Rehabilitation Approach" in Florida this February.

 

Michelle Lyons

The physiological effects of the decline in circulating estrogen, combined with the aging process, put postmenopausal women at risk of urogynecological dysfunction (Lee 2009). Incontinence, prolapse and sexual dysfunction are common problems, and their symptoms can greatly affect quality of life. Pelvic therapy can offer effective, conservative, and cost effective treatments for these issues.

 

The most significant aetiological factors for the development of prolapse are advancing age and parity (MacLennan et al, 2000). Several studies have investigated tissue metabolism and properties in postmenopausal women with symptoms of prolapse and/or stress urinary incontinence. Links have been identified between these symptoms and alterations in connective tissue and estrogen levels.

 


Sep 23, 2014

male sling

Surgery for prostate cancer can impair urinary function, and in the case of persistent urinary incontinence, patients may progress to surgical interventions. In order for physicians to conduct optimal patient counseling and surgical candidate selection for post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence (UI), the records of 95 patients were reviewed in this study. The patients were retrospectively placed into "ideal", n = 72, or "non-ideal", n = 23, categories based on chosen characteristics, and the results of their outcomes and satisfaction were consolidated. Men in the "ideal" group had the following characteristics: mild to moderate UI, external urethral sphincter that appeared intact on cystoscopy, no prior history of pelvic radiation or cryotherapy, no previous UI surgeries, volitional detrusor contraction with emptying of the bladder, and a post-void residual of < 100 mL. Patients who did not meet all listed criteria for the "ideal" group were placed into the "non-ideal" classification.

 

A cure for the surgery was considered total resolution of post-prostatectomy incontinence with the sling. Of the patients fitting into the ideal classification, 50% reported cure, and of the non-ideal group, 22% reported a cure. Satisfaction rates within the ideal group for the procedure were 92%, whereas the non-ideal group reported a 30% satisfaction. Although uncommon, complications occurring in both groups included prolonged pelvic pain and worsened urinary incontinence. The authors describe the importance of placing the correct amount of tension through the sling, and of leaving as much of the external urethral sphincter in place as possible. Another complication that occurred more frequently is that of acute urinary retention. In the ideal cohort, the 11 cases of urinary retention resolved within 6 weeks of surgery. Of interest is that 12 of the 23 men in the "non-ideal" category had to undergo further surgery with an artificial urethral sphincter.

 

This information can assist surgeons in guiding and advising patients about operative procedures for post-prostatectomy incontinence. (Ideally, every patient would "fail" a trial of pelvic rehabilitation prior to progressing to a surgery!) If a patient wishes to proceed with a sling surgery despite being in a "non-ideal" category, he could be advised of the known potential outcomes. This article offers support for pre-operative investigation techniques such as urodynamics. Our role as pelvic rehabilitation providers may allow us to discuss such research with patients and providers, and participate in discussions about the role of rehabilitation pre-operatively or post-operatively. If you would like to learn more about working with men who have pelvic floor dysfunctions, you still have time to book a flight to Orlando for the Male Pelvic Floor Function, Dysfunction, & Treatment course, where you can learn about male pelvic pain, incontinence and BPH, and male sexual dysfunction. This is the last opportunity to take this course this year!


Sep 19, 2014

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with newly certified practitioner Amy Robinson, PT, PRPC, CLT.

 

Amy Robinson

What/who inspired you to become involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?:

I first learned about pelvic rehabilitation while I was a student at the Indiana University Physical Therapy program. The instructor brought in speakers for special topics sessions and I must admit I knew at that moment that pelvic rehab was an area of interest for me. However, I was hesitant to start in the area of pelvic health as I felt I needed to gain experience as a new graduate, and I also wasn’t sure I would feel comfortable performing pelvic examinations. I chose to work in a hospital setting for one year, a long term care setting for 2 years, and then transitioned into outpatient physical therapy. There were numerous times in each of those settings that it was apparent pelvic rehabilitation was the missing link in the patients’ treatment plan. In 1998 we had a physician, Dr. Scott Miles, approach the president of the rehabilitation company that I worked for and request that they train a women’s health physical therapist. This was my opportunity and I took my first course with Kathe Wallace, PT. I remember thinking that she was a wealth of knowledge and her enthusiasm allowed me to get over the trepidation of performing pelvic examinations. She allowed me to focus on the examination process itself, how to apply critical thinking to the patient symptoms and evaluation findings, and how to pick the appropriate treatments. I was hooked! I feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in several continuing education courses all over the country from so many very talented Pelvic Health Practitioners and each and every one of them have inspired me in some way to continue to learn and perfect my skills as a pelvic practitioner.

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

I truly enjoy treating patients who have a diagnosis of pelvic pain. There are so many different types of pelvic pain and the complexity of the cases fascinate me. I thrive on working together as a team with my client to identify the issues at the root of their pain. There are no two pelvic pain patients who are alike which allows me to create an individualized plan for each patient. It is always very rewarding when a patient who has been suffering with pain for years meets their therapy goals, has the knowledge to self treat, and can complete ADLs and work functions, all being done without pain limiting them.


Sep 19, 2014

digestive system

 

An interesting study assessed the ability of fluorescence imaging to measure the benefits of manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), a key component of complete decongestive therapy (CDT). Lymphatic dysfunction, often developing into lymphedema, affects a significant population of our patients who undergo treatment for breast cancer or pelvic cancer. Complete decongestive therapy includes manual lymphatic drainage, compression bandaging, therapeutic exercise, and specific skin care techniques. A theory describing the beneficial effects of MLD, as explained in this article, is that MLD stimulates a contractile or "pumping" mechanism within the superficial lymphatic system. 

 

 

Although effects of MLD can be measured by limb volume assessment, this study aimed to investigate if in fact contractile function is improved. The investigators used near-infrared fluorescence, or NIR fluorescence, to measure "…the apparent propulsive lymph velocities..and…the period or time of arrival between successive propulsive events." Twelve subjects diagnosed with Grade I or II unilateral lymphedema and 10 controls were included in this research and were treated by a certified lymphedema therapist. The manual lymphatic drainage preparatory protocol for an involved upper extremity included lymphatic massage to the cervical lymph nodes x 5 minutes, then the neck, axillary region of the contralateral arm, and the ipsilateral inguinal region. Lower extremity MLD also started at the neck, then treatment was directed to the contralateral inguinal nodes and ipsilateral axillary nodes. The control subjects received massage to the neck for 3 minutes, bilateral axillary region massage x 5 minutes or bilateral inguinal regions, depending on if the upper or lower limb was imaged in the study. The appropriate limb was then treated with MLD massage techniques. 


Sep 18, 2014

A recent on-line survey queried fourty-four Obstetrician-Gynecologists (OB-GYNs) in British Columbia to learn more about the needs of physicians who treat women who have endometriosis and chronic pelvic pain (CPP). Physicians reported that women who present with endometroisis or chronic pelvic pain usually require more visits than other patients, for reasons including medical and pain management, lack of a clear diagnosis, and lack of improvement in condition. Evaluation techniques utilized by the physicians often included laparoscopy and ultrasound, and despite these practices, the OB-GYNS reported challenges in making a diagnosis or successfully treating their patients with CPP. In fact, survey results indicated that 5% of the respondents were able to diagnose a patient for a cause of pelvic pain in > 70% of patients. Most of the physicians reported that less than half of the women treated had a good response to interventions. Although the highest rate of referral for these providers was to another OB-GYN specializing in pelvic pain, nearly 60% of the time a referral to physical therapy was reported. 

 

 

Although some of the narrative comments encountered in this survey were positive, including one physician's report of having "…good success with physiotherapy…", more often the providers expressed frustration and annoyance when faced with not only the challenges of diagnosis and treatment, but also the poor compensation and the longer visits required for counseling and teaching of patients. In addition to wanting more clear guidelines on diagnosis and management of female CPP, physicians expressed interest in having group educational sessions for patients, and more resources such as educational brochures on self-management for patients.

 

 

How can pelvic rehabilitation providers fill in this knowledge gap? I recall asking a referring provider if he was pleased with his patients' rehabilitation outcomes, and he expressed such a relief that I was taking the "dregs of the practice." He meant nothing disparaging about the patients themselves, he explained, just that when these patients walked in the door he felt a sinking feeling because he did not know what to do for them. Now, he reported, these same patients were returning from a pelvic rehabilitation referral and excitedly reporting on progress they had made. So many physicians and other referring providers still do not understand the scope of the patient populations that we can treat in pelvic rehabilitation. We can provide a necessary bridge between the challenge of diagnosing and medically treating chronic pelvic pain and the rehabilitation approach that addresses the chronic pain issues. Differential diagnosis of chronic pelvic pain from a rehabilitation standpoint is a skill set  that every therapist must continually improve upon. If you are interested in learning more about these skills, sign up for faculty member Peter Philip's continuing education course Differential Diagnostics of Chronic Pelvic Pain next month in Connecticut. 


Sep 15, 2014

Dyssynergic defecation occurs when the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are not coordinating in a manner that supports healthy bowel movements. Ideally, emptying of the bowels is accompanied by a lengthening, or bearing down of the PFM, and with dyssynergia, the muscles instead shorten. Because a portion of the levator ani muscles slings directly around the anorectal junction (where the rectum meets the anal canal), when the muscles are tight, the "tube" where the fecal material has to pass through narrows, making it difficult to pass stool. If emptying the bowels is difficult, patients will often strain for prolonged periods of time, an unhealthy pattern for the abdominopelvic area, and constipation may occur due to the stool remaining in the colon for prolonged periods of time, where the water is reabsorbed from the stool, becoming harder and more difficult to pass.

 

 

Can patients with this condition be helped by pelvic rehabilitation providers? Absolutely, with correction of muscle use patterns, bowel re-training education, food and fluid recommendations, and pelvic muscle rehabilitation addressed at optimizing the muscle health. Much of the time, patients with this dysfunctional muscle use pattern present with tension and shortening in the pelvic floor muscles, although they may also present with muscle lengthening and weakness.  Surface electromyography (sEMG), a form of biofeedback, has also been utilized and the literature supports sEMG for bowel dysfunctions including dyssnergia. 

 

 

Another technique used by pelvic rehabilitation providers for re-training dyssynergia (also known as non-relaxing puborectalis, or paroxysmal puborectalis, naming the muscle fibers that sling around the rectum) is the use of balloon-assisted training. In this technique, a small, soft balloon is inserted into the rectum and is attached to a large syringe that will inject either water or air into the balloon, causing the balloon to enlarge within the rectum. This training technique allows the patient to provide feedback about sensation of rectal filling including when the patient perceives urges to defecate. The patient can practice expelling the balloon, and in the event of a dyssynergic pattern of pelvic floor muscles, the balloon would not be expelled due to increased muscle tension and shortening of the anorectal area. In this manner, the patient is trained to bring awareness to the anorectal area, and to respond with healthy patterns of defecation. 


Sep 15, 2014

In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with newly certified practitioner Amy C. Sanderson, PT, OCS, PPRC.

 

Amy Sanderson

Describe your clinical practice.:

I am a co-owner of a private physical therapy practice in the Spokane, Washington area. We currently have 3 clinics and staff 14 providers overall. I have been an Orthopaedic Certified Specialist since 1996, and our clinic is primarily an orthopedic setting. We do, however, provide several specialties, including Pelvic Rehab, Vestibular Program, and Video Gait Analysis for athletes.

How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?

I have been practicing since 1993 and began a Women’s Health program in 1994 at a previous place of employment. When I had interviewed for the position of a staff physical therapist for this clinic, I was asked if I would be interested in starting any new programs for the company. The manager had recommended that I develop a Women’s Health program. Truthfully, I had not heard of Women’s Health in the early 90’s, but I really wanted the job, so I said “absolutely!” I figured that I was a woman and I knew some things about health, so how hard could it be. Countless hours of continuing education and several years of marketing to the local physicians and community, we have now built our Pelvic Rehab program up to 3 physical therapists providing treatment to all of our clinics in the Spokane, Washington area.


Sep 15, 2014

This is a guest blog-post by Herman & Wallace faculty member Jennafer Vande Vegte, MSPT, BCIA-PMB, PRPC

Erica Vitek MOT, OTR, BCB-PMD, PRPC

Stress. We all have it. We all deal with it in one way or another. Sometimes stress comes and goes quickly while at other times it lasts and lasts. Research shows that at times, short bouts of stress can be good, even helpful. The surge of adrenalin and cortisol we get staying up past midnight to finish that assignment before it is due the next morning can power our brains to accomplish a task about which we procrastinated because it seemed burdensome or boring. We are very grateful for the extra burst of speed we feel in our legs as we run to catch our naughty three year old as they run off into a busy street. After these stressful events are over, our bodies recover but chronic stress can affect our bodies in negative ways and our bodies may need help finding a way to cope.

Research shows one main pathway that stress takes in the body is the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis or HPA axis for short. In the HPA axis there is a systematic release of chemical messengers that create a cascade of effects in our bodies. The HPA axis governs our response to stress and also affects our energy levels, digestion, sexual functioning, immune system and other body processes. We don't even need the research to tell us this because we have all experienced it firsthand.

Unfortunately when stress in any form does not go away, our bodies may not find the way back to homeostasis and chronic issues can develop. Research also points out that the function of our HPA axis could have been impaired during our development. Maternal stress can affect a developing baby in utero, and trauma or stress in infancy or early childhood can influence the function of our stress response into adulthood.

Interestingly, there are also gender differences in how stress influences behavior. In their article on the female response to stress, authors Taylor et al. describe the effects of oxytocin on the HPA axis. Oxytocin is released during nurturing behaviors and helps to decrease the activity in the HPA axis. The authors postulate that estrogen may be one reason women cope and respond to stress differently than men. Mothers comfort their babies when they cry and help sooth them. This action is beneficial to both mom and baby. Friends offer comfort with a listening ear, a hug, and emotional support. John Gray in his book Venus on Fire Mars on Ice also notes that oxytocin is released when we feel loved, appreciated and heard. As physical therapists working one-on-one with our patients we are also in a position to listen to and validate our patients which may aid in combating their stress response. Joining a support group may also be of benefit.

How do you respond to stress in your life? Dartmouth researchers found their students drink more caffeine, sleep less, and consume more alcohol. Exactly the WRONG responses when you look at the physiological effects on the HPA axis.. According to the article, "Leproult et al. found that plasma cortisol levels were elevated by up to 45 percent after sleep deprivation, an increase that has implications including immune compromise, cognitive impairment, and metabolic disruption." Caffeine and alcohol also increase cortisol release.


Sep 12, 2014

mindfulness

In an encouraging study sure to grab a lot of attention, researchers studying middle schoolers and the effect of mindfulness on suicidal thoughts have positive findings. We all know that middle school is a very challenging time, with students feeling pressure socially, academically, hormonally, and that family stressors can also be involved in this time of significant growth and change. If we think back to our time in middle school, we may recall some very challenging emotions, and a difficulty in seeing past our school environment and into our potential future. What if mindfulness training could provide an outlet for positive thoughts and a way to more effectively manage emotions?

 

In this study, highlighted in the research spotlight of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 100 sixth graders were randomized into an Asian history class with daily mindfulness practice and into an African history class with a matched activity unrelated to mindfulness or self-care. The mindfulness instruction included breath awareness and breath counting, body sensation, thoughts, and emotions labeling, and body sweeps. Silent meditation increased from 3 minutes to 12 minutes. Over the study period of 6 weeks, students were assessed for development of suicidal thoughts or self-harm behaviors.

 

While the researchers conclude that more studies with larger groups need to be done to validate the findings, the reports of this study are very encouraging. Keeping in mind that there are no equipment needs and little or no risk with the applied intervention, perhaps more schools will look to trainable skills in mindfulness to teach young people self-management skills. Mindfulness and meditation continue to receive significant attention in the research literature, and rightly so, as patients, providers, and family members may benefit from simple techniques that can be practiced and applied in a variety of ways.

 


Sep 12, 2014

pregnant

One thing I have decided after working with women during and after pregnancy is this: babies come when they want, and how they want to arrive. A mother's best laid birth plans will hopefully have enough flexibility to allow her to feel successful even if, and especially if, her plans have to change. A fundamental question that has been asked, from the standpoint of a mother's beliefs is, do women really feel they have a choice to deliver at home versus in a hospital?

 

Researchers in the UK asked this question of a diverse sample of 41 women who were interviewed. Despite the fact that in the UK, a woman can birth at home with a midwife (and this is covered by the National Health System) home births are unusual, accounting for only 3% of all births. And while it may seem exciting to read that in the US, the number of home births has risen by more than 50% over a decade, the actual numbers include that less than 2% of births occur at home according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data.

 

Back to the concept of choice, when women were interviewed about where they planned to give birth, perceptions rather than fact ruled the day. The concept of which environments were "safe" versus "risky" were a common theme, with women having differing explanations of why a hospital might be more safe than the home environment, or vice versa. The authors describe the issue that, when healthy mothers with low-risk pregnancies give birth in hospital environments, medical interventions including surgical birth are more likely to place. Women who would choose a home birth reported beliefs such as not being able to have a 'natural' birth in a hospital, fear of contracting illness or disease, or of wanting to be at home surrounded by loves ones. Women also reported that at home, more control over the environment and increased ability to relax would be available.

 


Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Oakland, CA (SOLD OUT)
Jan 09, 2015 - Jan 11, 2015
Location: Samuel Merritt University

Care of the Postpartum Patient - Santa Barbara, CA
Jan 10, 2015 - Jan 11, 2015
Location: Human Performance Center

Visceral Mobilization of the Urologic System - Fairlawn, NJ
Jan 16, 2015 - Jan 18, 2015
Location: Bella Physical Therapy

Sexual Medicine for Men and Women - Houston, TX
Jan 23, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Women's Hospital of Texas

Pelvic Floor Level 1 - Maywood, IL (SOLD OUT!)
Jan 23, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine

Sacroiliac Joint Evaluation and Treatment - Seattle, WA
Jan 24, 2015 - Jan 25, 2015
Location: Pacific Medical Center

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
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