An Interview with Certified Practitioner Andrea Wood, PT, DPT, PRPC

On November 15th, 2016 a new class of Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner Certification was crowned! Today we get to celebrate with Andrea Wood, PT, DPT, PRPC from New York. Andrea was kind enough to share some of her thoughts on pelvic rehabilitation and what certification means to her. Thank you Andrea, and congratulations on earning your PRPC credential!

Describe your clinical practice:

I work in an orthopedic clinical practice that has one on one care which I think is valuable. I joined my practice to help offer another view that included pelvic floor knowledge to various patient cases. My coworkers and I collaborate a lot because we both may see things differently, and exchanging ideas is always invaluable for optimal patient outcomes. I really believe the best health care practitioners can admit when they don’t know everything and seek out other viewpoints to learn.
How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
I actually had no idea I originally wanted to do pelvic floor rehab. I was lucky to fall into it right out of graduate school up in Boston at a wonderful place called Marathon Physical Therapy. I found it fascinating how important it was to consider in a lot of patients, especially those presenting with hip, back, or pelvic pain. Two years into working, I found out I had mild congenital hip dysplasia in my left hip and underwent a periacetabular osteotomy to correct it. Going through the rehab on the other side as a patient and having to experience what it means to practice a lot of the principles I teach patients made me excited to continue to help people overcome obstacles. I’m a better physical therapist now because of my personal history. It taught me to always give patients the means to keep moving within their means and not provide only passive treatments. My two physical therapists that helped me through that became my biggest role models on how to approach complicated patient problems.
What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?
I find it most rewarding to work with pelvic pain patients. I like to think of them as a puzzle. With those patients, I’m an orthopedic physical therapist first, because of how much influence other parts of the body can have on the pelvis. I also am a big advocate of collaborative health care with those patients, and when you bring a team of different views together (i.e. medical doctor, physical therapy, nutritionist, and psychologist to name a few) I find I learn something new each time.
If you could get a message out to physical therapists about pelvic rehabilitation what would it be?
It is not just about 3 layers of muscles in your pelvic floor and Kegels. Your pelvis is a center of your body with various biomechanical, vascular, and neurological influences. For example, erectile dysfunction in males can be influenced by pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, cardiovascular health, and psychological or neurological conditions. A woman with painful intercourse could have various contributing factors ranging from a back or hip problem to a dermatological skin issue. I think physical therapists not properly educated on pelvic floor rehab oversimplify it unknowingly.
What has been your favorite Herman & Wallace Course and why?
My favorite Herman & Wallace course was the Pudendal Neuralgia and Nerve Entrapment. That course opened my eyes up to pain science and how much we really don’t know about pain as a medical community.
What lesson have you learned from a Herman & Wallace instructor that has stayed with you?
That the amount of pain a patient may have does not always signify the amount of damage that is present. When patients realize this, they feel a lot more hopeful and in control.
What do you find is the most useful resource for your practice?
I love learning from other physical therapy blogs. Blog About Pelvic Pain by Sara Saunder and Julie Weibe’s blogs are two of my favorites to follow. I lend the book Pelvic Pain Explained to a lot of my patients.
What motivated you to earn PRPC?
I like to challenge myself, and I felt it was a good test to access areas I need improvement in and should study more or seek out further continuing education.
What makes you the proudest to have earned PRPC?
I’m proud to have earned the PRPC because I earned something that I am passionate about. Some people don’t get that blessing.
What advice would you give to physical therapists interested in earning PRPC?
Just being passionate and asking a lot of questions about what I don’t know in clinical practice provided me with best tools to prepare for the exam.
What is in store for you in the future?
Continuing to learn as much as I can. I plan on seeking out some continuing education in areas of physical therapy like neurology or cardiovascular issues that can all still influence the pelvic floor. I think its important to be a well rounded physical therapist.

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