This week The Pelvic Rehab Report sat down with new faculty member, Emily McElrath PT, DPT, MTC, CIDN, to discuss her pelvic rehab journey and her new course, Pregnancy and Postpartum Considerations for High-Intensity Athletics. Emily is a native of New Orleans, is highly trained in Sports and Orthopedics, and has a passion for helping women achieve optimal sports performance. Emily is also certified in manual therapy and dry needling, which allows her to provide a wide range of treatment skills including joint and soft tissue mobilization. She is an avid runner and Crossfitter and has personal experience modifying these activities during pregnancy and postpartum.
Hi Emily! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your clinical practice?
My name is Emily McElrath, and I am an orthopedic and pelvic floor PT. I spent the early years of my career in sports medicine and primarily worked with high school and collegiate athletes, as well as weekend warriors. I myself am a distance runner and Crossfitter and have always had a love for sports. After the birth of my second child, I had a hard time returning to Crossfit due to significant pelvic floor dysfunction and pain. At that time, I became a pelvic floor patient and quickly realized how valuable this specialty was. This began my journey to becoming a pelvic PT.
Since that time almost 4 years ago, I have been blending my orthopedic and pelvic health knowledge and skillset to help women return to the sports they love without pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. My main goal as a clinician is to educate and empower my patients to feel in control of their own bodies, and to feel confident in daily and recreational activities.
What has your educational journey as a pelvic rehab therapist looked like and how did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
It was really a matter of personal experience leading me to the field of pelvic health. I knew the specialty of pelvic health existed, but until I was a patient I did not truly appreciate how valuable it was. Seeing firsthand how significantly pelvic floor physical therapy could improve the quality of a patient’s life gave me a desire to become a pelvic PT. Once I got into my course work with Herman & Wallace, I realized that my background as an orthopedic PT would blend well with pelvic PT. It also gave me a lot of perspective into how significant of a role the pelvic floor plays in the entire kinetic chain. I would even say that my pelvic floor education has helped me be a more thorough orthopedic clinician. It has helped me think outside the box and enabled me to be more thorough in my critical thinking when evaluating patients.
What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?
I have two patient populations that I find most rewarding. The first is HIIT athletes. I find this population so fun to work with. They are some of the most dedicated and compliant patients I have. Their love of their sport is often a driving force for them to get and stay healthy. Many of these athletes will even come to my clinic without having pain or dysfunction. They are strictly coming for education and prevention, which I love. After all, PTs as a profession are huge proponents of wellness and prevention. I also love teaching a patient that they can, in fact, continue doing exercises they may have been previously told were not safe to do during pregnancy or postpartum. Giving them hope that they can continue doing what they love after they were afraid they may not is very rewarding.
The second population I love working with is my childbirth prep patients. I LOVE education. I feel like these sessions really highlight that part of physical therapy. These sessions not only address any current concerns a patient is having but also provide education to give them the confidence to birth the way they want. I review everything from what to expect during labor, to different positions for pushing, and how to push. I even have partners come to the sessions so they can learn how to best support the patient during delivery. Hearing from patients that their birth experience was beautiful and just as they had hoped always gives me a lot of joy. I feel honored to be able to be a part of that journey.
What do you find is the most useful resource for your practice?
I find other practitioners the most valuable resource in my practice. There is so much that can be gained from collaborating with other pelvic PTs, doulas, midwives, OB/GYN, sex therapists, etc. Pelvic rehab is so multifaceted, that I believe it truly requires a collaborative approach to provide the best patient outcomes.
What books or articles have impacted you as a clinician?
There was a recent article that came out about the prevalence and significance of Levator Ani avulsion tears. This was an interesting article because I have seen this more and more clinically, but there is very little research on the matter. My favorite books as a clinician are: “The Body Keeps the Score”, “Come As You Are”, and “Pelvic Pain Explained”.
What lesson have you learned in a course, from an instructor, or from a colleague or mentor that has stayed with you?
I think the biggest thing I have learned is that the objective findings of our evaluations are only a small part of the puzzle. Pelvic rehab is an intimate type of physical therapy, and many of our patients may have had trauma that is still raw to them. If most of your evaluation is spent talking with the patients to ensure they feel comfortable, that’s ok. I have realized that it’s ok if I don’t get to every objective test and measure in the first session. In this line of work, patient comfort is most important. Building a rapport with your patient must take precedent.
What made you want to create this course, Pregnancy and Postpartum Considerations for High-Intensity Athletics?
I wanted to create this course because I saw a need in the Crossfit community for more education on how to safely train pregnant and postpartum athletes, and I feel physical therapy is a great place to start, after all, PTs are experts in the musculoskeletal system. We are seeing more and more of these HIIT athletes becoming moms and wanting to maintain their athleticism throughout pregnancy & postpartum, and I think that’s great!
With that being said, I think there are nuances to training this athletic population. There are so many hormonal, anatomical, and structural changes to consider during pregnancy & postpartum, and that may affect how well an athlete can tolerate strain. However, most of these changes are not contraindications to training. Therefore, we as rehab practitioners and physical therapists need to fully understand the demands of HIIT, as well as the specific considerations for this population so that we can keep them safely and effectively doing what they love.
What need does your course fill in the field of pelvic rehabilitation?
By and large, people do not fully understand the demands of HIIT activities like Crossfit unless they personally partake in these activities. This includes healthcare professionals like physical therapists. However, many of our pregnant and postpartum athletes will require the care of a PT (especially pelvic) at some point throughout their pregnancy, and postpartum journey.
My course, Pregnancy and Postpartum Considerations for High-Intensity Athletics bridges the gap between education and experience, for those healthcare professionals who do not personally participate in HIIT to understand the demands of the sport. It also helps those physical therapists who do not specialize in pelvic health to understand the unique demands of this athlete population from a pelvic health perspective.
Who, what demographic, would benefit from your course?
Any PT, PTA, PT student, OT, COTA, or OT student who is looking to better understand the demands of HIIT, the special considerations for pregnant and postpartum athletes who participate in HIIT, and how to safely train and treat these athletes to help them continue to do what they love.
If you could get a message out to physical therapists about pelvic rehab what would it be?
Oh man, where do I start? There are so many things I want to shout from the mountain tops about pelvic PT. It truly is a gem in the field of physical therapy, and I think is often a missing link in traditional physical therapy care. Pelvic rehab is so much more than urinary leakage and kegels. It can be so impactful to the quality of life of a patient. There is no other area of the body that is critical to so many functions but is also so vastly overlooked and undertreated. The need for research, education, and development in this field is critical if we are going to have a true “whole body” approach to treatment.
This week, faculty member Kate Bailey sat down with Holly Tanner to discuss her course Restorative Yoga for Physical Therapists.
Hi Kate, can you tell us about the course you have designed Restorative Yoga for Physical Therapists?
My name is Kate Bailey and I am a pelvic floor physical therapist. I’ve been a pelvic floor PT going on4-5 years now. Before that, I’ve been a pilates instructor for 20 years and taught yoga for over a decade. This course is a culmination of all of my experiences both with the yoga, pilates, and the pelvic floor population from kiddos through adulthood. It allows us to use the techniques from the yoga and pilates philosophies to support people in their healing process from pelvic pain and also just in their bodies.
What can participants expect to learn when they come to the course?
I wrote this course when the pandemic started. My whole intention was to make the didactic information self-paced and watch the videos as often as you want kind of course. This way, when we have dedicated time together it’s a lot more about discussion and me guiding people through the labs, and in turn, they can guide their colleagues or patients. It is designed so I’m not spending a lot of time lecturing to a screen and our time dedicated to each other is more about a conversation. I want people to learn about the information in their own time, marinate in it a little bit, and then come with questions.
How do you feel that restorative yoga fits in with the care we provide to our patients with pelvic health conditions?
The restorative yoga component to me is really special because it’s one of the only times we prioritize rest, and not doing, and sitting with ourselves. Not necessarily trying to get strong, or trying to get more flexible. It’s really about allowing our bodies to be. Sometimes that is being in a little bit of discomfort. Sometimes that is just being with the exhaustion that I think we all have a little bit of. Just learning how to be with ourselves for 8, to 12, to 15 minutes and see that as a really productive part of our treatment plan.
How does trauma-informed care influence your course?
One of the things that I highlight in the course is how much trauma occurs in and around the home. So when we’re asking patients to do a home program one of the discussion points we have in the course is “what if the home is inherently triggering or unsafe?” How can we use concepts of graded exposure to get someone from needing a lot of sensory things, like lights on, windows locked, facing the window, eyes open to slowly getting people toward a little bit more safety. If that is not a possibility, finding another location and strategizing how we can prioritize our own safety and our own ability to relax rather than saying I must relax.
The other component of trauma in the course is the unveiling of how prevalent trauma is. In pelvic health, we talk a lot about sexual trauma because we are dealing a lot with the pelvic floor region and the genitals. One of the things I think we sometimes might be able to speak to more is the little subversive types of trauma. Whether it is emotional trauma, whether it is neglect, whether it is transgenerational trauma or intersectionality trauma…
There’s this other component in yoga that is coming out now that is the trauma that has been handed down through the yoga lineages. What I think is not understood is that a lot of people who practice yoga in a deep way have significant trauma from yoga. The question then is how do we reclaim a practice that is so lovely, done with care and kindness and non harming, for people who have maybe experienced it in a very harmful way – and introduce it as a non-harming, caring, compassionate method for people who haven’t experienced it. The whole idea is about how do you be in rest in your body and in empowerment.
Can you give an example of how a pelvic PT or OT would fit restorative yoga into their practice?
As PTs and Ots we are starting to bring mindfulness in, a lot, to our programming in terms of some of the work from Jon Kabat Zen on how great meditation is for so many things. There is still a question of “How do I put this in my plan of care?” The great thing about this class is that we can speak directly to this. Let's say that you are in a hospital-based scenario, you can give restorative yoga to someone n a hospital bed very easily. They’re not going anywhere and what a great thing to give them: a breathing practice, a concentration practice, and a rest practice.
For someone in private practice, such as orthopedics, this is the type of practice where maybe you’re not giving pelvic floor strengthening if someone has a large degree of overactivity in their pelvic floor. But they still need something to do at home, or they need something to do at the office. Maybe restorative yoga is a little bit too far out there for the patient. Maybe they don’t have a space they can lie down on the floor. That’s when we can say, ok how can we then transfer a pelvic floor restorative yoga posture to a desk situation? Can you cross your legs on your chair and lean forward, and modify it that way.
Then there is this component of the class that is all about breathing. I think we know in pelvic health how wonderful and how great breath-work can be and so some of these techniques can be used as ‘secret exercises’ in your everyday life in addition to being a dedicated practice. We talk about all of that in class.
Watch the full interview with Kate Bailey at the Herman & Wallace YouTube Channel:
Join Kate to learn more about including restorative yoga into your practice with Restorative Yoga for Physical Therapists this year. Courses are scheduled for:
This week the interviewer becomes the interviewee as Stacey Futterman Tauriello sits down to interview Holly Tanner on the Male Pelvic Floor course.
Stacey Futterman reached out to Holly Tanner back in 2007 through a phone call to see if they could partner on a lecture covering male pelvic pain. The two had never met in person but decided to collaborate on the three-hour APTA National Conference lecture. Holly shares "I still recall the frequent glances I made to match the person behind the voice I had heard for so many long phone calls.”
This presentation was developed into a two-day education course for Herman & Wallace and contained lectures on male anatomy, post-prostatectomy urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual health and dysfunction. The big question of the time was “should we allow men to attend?” Holly puts this in perspective, “As strange as this question now seems, it speaks volumes about the world of pelvic health at that time; mostly female instructors taught mostly female participants about mostly female conditions.”
The Male Pelvic Floor course was first taught in 2008 and has since been expanded to include 22 contact hours. This current content includes 7 pre-recorded lectures and 2 full days of live lectures and labs, allowing more time for hands-on skills in examination and treatment. The schedule still covers bladder, prostate, sexual health, and pelvic pain, and further discusses special topics like post-vasectomy syndrome, circumcision, and Peyronie’s disease.
Because the course often has providers in attendance who have not completed prior pelvic health training, instruction in basic techniques is included. For the experienced therapists, there are multiple lab “tracks” that offer intermediate to advanced skills that can be practiced in addition to the basic skills. Holly adds, “One of the more valuable conversations that we have in the course is how to create comfort and ease in when for most us, we were raised in a culture (and medical training) where palpation of the pelvis was not made comfortable. Hearing from the male participants about their bodies, how they are affected by cultural expectations, adds significant value as well.”
In 2017 Herman & Wallace faculty member, Heather Radar submitted a blog where she wrote about a note that was left on her doorstep by the wife of an older gentleman who had chronic male pelvic pain. When looking into writing this blog I kept coming back to this past blog by Heather, and I have decided to share an abridged version today to accompany Holly Tanner's short interview discussing the Male Pelvic Floor Satellite Lab Course.
Recently, a note was left at my doorstep by the wife of an older gentleman who had chronic male pelvic pain. His pain was so severe, that he could not sit, and he lay in the back seat of their idling car as his wife, having exhausted all other medical channels available to her, walked this note up to the home of a rumored pelvic floor physical therapist who also treated men. The note opened with how she had heard of me. She then asked me to contact her about her husband’s medical problem. It ended with three words that have vexed me ever since…we are desperate. We Are Desperate.
Unlike so many men with chronic pelvic pain, he had at least been given a diagnostic cause of his pain, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, rather than vaguely being told it was just a prostate issue. However, the therapists that had been recommended by his doctor only treated female pelvic dysfunction.
My first thought after reading the note was, “I bet shoulder or knee therapists don’t get notes like this on their doorstep.” My next thought, complete with facepalm, “THIS HAS TO STOP! Pelvic floor rehab has got to become more accessible”.
Pelvic floor therapists see all people including men, women, and transgender. They treat the pediatric, adult, and geriatric populations. They treat pelvic floor disorders in the outpatient, home health, and SNF settings. They treat elite athletes and those with multiple co-morbidities using walkers. They can develop preventative pelvic wellness programs and teach caregivers how to better manage their loved one’s incontinence. This is due to one simple fact: No matter the age, gender, level of health, or practice setting, every patient has a pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor should not be regarded as some rare zebra in clinical practice when it is the workhorse upon which so many health conditions ride. It interacts with the spine, the hip, the diaphragm, and vital organs. It is composed of skin, nerves, muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments, lymph glands, and vessels. It is as complex and as vital to function and health as the shoulder or knee is, and yet students are lucky if they get a “pelvic floor day” in their PT or OT school coursework.
I call for every therapist, specialist, and educator to learn more about the pelvic floor. If you only treat pelvic dysfunction in women, please consider expanding your specialty to include men. The guys really need your help. You literally may be the only practitioner around that has the skills to treat these types of problems. Yes, the concerns you have about privacy and feeling comfortable are valid. But, you are not alone in this. Smart people like Holly Tanner have figured all that stuff out for you and can guide you on how to expertly treat in the men’s health arena.
The Silver Lining. Thanks to the champions of pelvic floor rehab education, we’ve come a long way. The good news in this story is that this man’s doctor recognized early that he had pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and recommended that he see a pelvic floor physical therapist. The bad news-it took 2 years before he could find one. The ball is in our court, therapists. Let’s do better. Until there are no more men in the back seat, we still need to #LearnMoreAboutThePelvicFloor.
We need to continue to create more coursework and more clinical training opportunities so that the representation of those treating male patients improves. If you feel ready to take your training to the next level in caring for male pelvic dysfunction, join us for an upcoming Male Pelvic Floor Satellite Lab Course.
Male Pelvic Floor Satellite Lab Course is scheduled on several dates and satellite locations for 2022, including self-hosted course options. Dates include:
Dawn Sandalcidi PT, RCMT, BCB-PMD is known as the go-to expert in the field of pediatric pelvic health. She has been practicing for 40 years this May and has concentrated on the pediatric pelvic floor for 29 of those. When it comes to pediatric pelvic floor issues, there is so much more than bedwetting, and often the practitioner needs to look beyond the pelvic floor.
Despite the growing number of pelvic rehab specialists treating men and women with PF dysfunction, children in this patient population remain woefully under-served. This can cause undue stress for the child and family, as well as the development of internalizing and externalizing psychological behaviors. Many of the techniques used in pediatric pelvic therapy can be translated to the adult population. The question is ‘who’s the driver?’ In pediatrics, it is typically a bowel issue.
The Standard American Diet involves food that is high in calories, saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. It is also lacking in the intake of essential nutrients for the body like fiber, calcium, potassium, and vitamin D. This lack of dietary fiber can cause issues with the digestive tract as well as the colon leading to constipation. Bowel dysfunction including constipation can contribute to urinary leakage and urgency (1). Constipation accounts for approximately 5% of visits to pediatric clinics (2) proving that there is a need for practitioners to know how to treat these pediatric issues.
Dawn focuses much of her pediatric knowledge on her two courses: Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PEDs) and Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders (PEDsG). Pediatric pelvic floor basics are covered in PEDs, including instruction in anatomy, physiology, development of normal voiding reflexes and urinary control, and learning how to talk with child patients. Biofeedback and ultrasound (which Dawn fondly calls jelly belly) are also covered and can be helpful as less invasive procedures for children.
PEDsG goes beyond the pelvic floor and opens up the door to look at the big picture of the whole child. Dawn shares that almost 80% of her kiddos with chronic constipation present with diastasis rectus abdominus. They can also have hyperextension in the thoracic spine, and the rib cage is postally rotated – where the kids don’t know how to bring it down.
Dawn is also on the threshold of writing a pediatric pelvic pain course that she expects to be ready later this year. Pediatric pelvic pain is becoming more prevalent, and it can’t be treated the same way as in adults. Dawn explains that “children don’t understand, so we’re actually creating a pediatric pain neuroscience protocol. It is a bio-psycho-social approach, and we use fun things.”
Research tells us that 15% of kids per year will outgrow bedwetting. Children who suffer from bedwetting can feel ashamed and embarrassed, have self-esteem issues, or even act out. There are 5 basics of where you start with a pediatric patient that are taught in PEDs. Dawn also shares 5 basics in her e-book, BEDWETTING BOOTCAMP(3):
Everything in Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction builds into Pediatric Gastrointestinal Disorders, and everything in PEDsG builds into Pediatric Pelvic Pain. The more practitioners who learn about the pediatric pelvic floor means that more kids get treated and the fewer adults that will have pelvic floor dysfunction. To learn more about treating pediatric pelvic health register for one of Dawn Sandalcidi’s upcoming courses:
This week Jennafer Vande Vegte and Nari Clemons sat down to share their course Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation with us to give a peek into the why, what, and how of it all.
What are boundaries? Boundaries are when we need to set a limit. It’s that capacity to say here’s where I need to draw the line so that I stay grounded and centered and feel good about myself. Self-care is what we do to replenish those energy reserves every day. To replenish our joy. To replenish our sense of awe and gratitude. Then meditation is a beautiful way to rewire the brain. To get to the reasons and roots of why we are getting depleted, we need to have a high level of honesty and introspection.
This is a course that gives you that permission and a lot of tangible tools. Nari shares that students have told her that "all of the other courses give us manual skills, but this course changed my life." Jen adds to this, "BUT you got to put in the work. This course is science and research-based and used in a way to transform lives." Part one is a deep dive into the science of the brain. Pain, trauma, PTSD and how that changes the brain, and how that has changed the brains of patients and of us. Meditation practices are explained from a scientific perspective about how they can come in and rewire the nervous system and help your patterns.
Part two is about a month later and gets a little bit softer. In this portion, Nari and Jenn focus on relationships, not just with our patients but with ourselves and the people that we love in our lives. How to construct healthy relationships and build that patient shared responsibility model in our practices. They also dive into the visualization of what we want in our practices and lives, self-care, and meditation. The course comes to a close with case studies and an action plan to bring what you’ve learned into the clinic. They’ve also established an online network where you can sign up for continued community. We’re all going through this journey together.
Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation Part 1 is scheduled for April 24th.
Boundaries, Self-Care, and Meditation Part 2 is scheduled for June 12th.
Steve Dischiavi sits down with Holly Tanner to discuss his remote course - Athletes and Pelvic Rehabilitation.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?
I’ve been with Herman & Wallace now for about 10 years teaching various forms of this course [Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation] in terms of the pelvic floor content bridging the sports medicine world. With me not being an internal physical therapist, it’s been kind of a unique situation having been involved with H&W for so long.
I’m a manually trained orthopedic and sports PT, board-certified through the APTA, Athletic Trainer, PT. I’ve got my masters in PT, went back and got my doctoral degree in PT and now I’m pursuing my Ph.D. and doing some research. My professional background includes ten years of treating outpatient ortho and running clinics for big corporate entity types of places. Then I went for ten years of pro sports with the NHL.
This is really how I got linked into H&W because of all of the hip and pelvic disorders I was dealing with and interacting with pelvic floor therapists. That’s where the blend of pelvic floor content merging with sports medicine came into play for my course Athletes & Pelvic Rehabilitation & Pelvic Rehabilitation.
If I’m an internal pelvic health practitioner, why would I want to go take a course with someone who doesn’t even do that?
I’ve always respected that question. When I look at my course the thing that will attract the experienced physical therapist that is doing internal pelvic health care, would be the amount of consideration that goes into the design of the therapeutic exercise. Specifically how some of the latest research should be impacting the exercises directed at the pelvic floor. For example, those are the relationships between the lower extremity and the pelvic and the lower back, and how does the lumbopelvic-hip complex influence the pelvic floor. When we start looking at exercise prescriptions, specifically for the athletic population, the massive amount of complexity that goes into athletic movement typically is not reflected in the therapeutic exercises in the way we deliver them.
I tie those two roles together in an update on some of the most contemporary evidence concerning lumbopelvic-hip exercise prescription with the specific implications to the pelvic floor, and what should the pelvic floor therapist be thinking about when they start prescribing more global appreciation of exercises specific to that region.
Many of the people who take the Athlete course are first-time H&W course takers. What I see sometimes that they say is that oftentimes they are not internal pelvic floor practitioners. They don’t have the career trajectory to want to do internal work, but like myself, they know that the pelvic floor is an integral part of how athletes perform. I provide a kinematic vision from the entire lower extremity kinematic chain, up through the lumbopelvic-hip region, and how simple concepts like length-tension relationships can alter how the pelvic floor functions.
What is the philosophy that shows up in shifting the chronic pain experience?
One of the unique patterns that we see is that when the exercises are delivered more rotationally when the joint is loaded it seems to have a very interesting effect on the pelvic floor itself. So some of these same benefits that you get in the hip you see in your pelvic floor and other parts of the body. The transitional positions such as half and tall kneeling offer great opportunities to get the best of both worlds where you can be in a relatively stable pattern but still be loaded in the pelvic and the hip joint. It allows a nice transition of exercises between lower-level stability exercises and higher-level athletic-looking exercises.
A lot of times by the end of the course people will say that seems to be the transition that they really like. Now they see a way to get their patients off the table but not doing such high-level exercises that are aggravating to the patient. These transitional positions are a nice place to see some of these neurologic changes in the lumbopelvic hip region and carry over to more athletic maneuvers.
Athletes and Pelvic Rehabilitation is scheduled five more times this year in 2022!
Check out the Herman & Wallace YouTube Channel for the full interview with Dr. Yeni
Dr. Oluwayeni Abraham stumbled into the niche field of fertility. She shares, "I had all of these women who would come in with painful periods that would have significant post-surgical problems and would end up having fertility concerns. As I was picking up my visceral mobilization techniques, I started to see that I was able to help women conceive and help women who maybe have experienced reoccurring miscarriages actually carry to term. That's when I said, "I think I'm doing something here that could be something else." That's when I tried to hone in on the specific skills that were influencing and maximizing the results and outcomes.
In Dr. Yeni's course, Fertility Considerations for the Pelvic Therapist, she shares manual therapy techniques and a lot of data on hormones, the endocrine system, and other pieces of the puzzle. The language in the fertility world is based on these building blocks. Specific fertility-related diagnoses are discussed that help you formulate a pathway in treatment. Another important thing Dr. Yeni teaches is how to collaborate and work with these other providers that are going to be on this journey with your patients.
When working with fertility it's important to ask ourselves how do we bring value to this puzzle? How do we bring value after someone has had multiple failed IVF cycles? We can't just say we're going to do a bunch of manual work. We also have to speak the language and understand the body in its entirety and how it's playing a role in being able to maximize fertility outcomes.
When asked what sparks her passion and keeps her so excited about working with this population Dr. Yeni stated, "the outcomes! We're still therapists, and we love to see results."
Fertility Considerations for the Pelvic Therapist - Remote Course
This course requires each registrant to have a live model. Due to the nature of labs, please be sure your model or partner is not pregnant and does not have an IUD for safety. Additionally, those with hydrosalpinx will not be able to participate in uterine mobility techniques but can still attend the course.
Allison Ariail is one of the creators of the Herman & Wallace Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Course Series. Practitioners who took the main Pelvic Floor course still weren’t sure how to handle oncology tissues, what they could do, or how to treat these patients. Thus the oncology series was created to provide additional instruction for treating pelvic cancer patients.
Allison Ariail is a physical therapist who started working in oncology in 2007 when she became certified as a lymphatic therapist. She worked with breast cancer, lymphedema patients, head and neck cancer patients, and the overall oncology team to work with the whole patient to help them get better. When writing these courses, Allison was part of a knowledgeable team that included Amy Sides, Nicole Dugan, Tina Allen, Jennafer Vande Vegte, and Megan Pribyl.
The Oncology Series is comprised of three different courses, with the first course, Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Level 1, designed as an overview of the oncology world. Allison explains that the reason level 1 is an introduction is that “this is because the oncology medical world is so different from what a lot of rehab professionals are used to.”
Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Level 2A addresses colorectal cancers, anal cancers, and cancers that affect male genitalia. New information about how to treat prostate cancers is also discussed. The third course, Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Level 2B, is being launched this year in 2022 and covers gynecological cancers and bladder cancers. The tentative launch will be in November 2022.
There are a lot of labs in all of these courses that are specific to the side effects that these patients have after going through radiation and other surgical treatments. Oncology patients can have a range of problems from radiation fibrosis, range of motion issues, and weakness. While these patients may be seeing a certified lymphatic therapist, that CLT is not going to have time to address these additional issues. Allison Ariail explains, “that is where this knowledge from these courses comes in. Not just as a supplement for that patient, but as a completely different treatment, where that patient really needs to see both therapists. One for lymphedema and one for radiation fibrosis, or weakness, or other side effects, that can affect their quality of life.”
Certified Lymphatic Therapists can skip OPF1 or dive in at OPF2A or OPF2B as long as they have taken the main Pelvic Floor Level 1 course prior.
Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Series 2022 Schedule
Oncology of the Pelvic Floor Level 2B
Dr. Michael Hibner is an international expert on pudendal neuralgia and chronic pelvic pain. Dr. Hibner joins Holly Tanner to discuss his new exclusive course with H&W titled Pudendal Dysfunction: The Physician's Perspective.
Pudendal neuralgia is a painful, neuropathic condition involving the dermatome of the pudendal nerve. This condition is not widely known and often goes unrecognized by many practitioners. Dr. Hibner runs The Arizona Center for Chronic Pelvic Pain (AZCCPP), a comprehensive center for treating chronic pelvic pain, and places a heavy emphasis on working as part of a care team with physical therapists and other pelvic rehab providers.
In this interview Dr. Hibner discusses how he treats pudendal neuralgia, “I treat patients with all reasons for pelvic pain but mostly pudendal neuralgia or patients with mesh injury or had an injury caused by pelvic mesh… I work very closely with physical therapists and I am a great, great believer in physical therapy. I am very happy that you are allowing me to share my perspective on Pudendal Neuralgia, and my perspective on physicians working with physical therapists.”
If I had pudendal neuralgia and I had a choice between surgery, injections, physical therapy, or medication. I would for sure have chosen physical therapy every time…there is no doubt in my mind. You can’t treat the PN without addressing the pelvic floor. What I tell patients is this. The number one thing for repetitive injury is to stop what you’re doing. The number two thing is to choose physical therapy over anything else. By far the majority of patients are helped by appropriate pelvic floor physical therapy.
Pudendal Dysfunction: The Physician's Perspective is scheduled for January 9, 2022. Course topics include pathoanatomy and clinical presentations, basics of surgical techniques, and terminology. The latter half of the course focuses on the physician and the rehab therapist working together and features case studies and clinical pearls from Dr. Hibner, a pioneer, and leader in the field.
This blog includes portions of an interview with Ramona Horton. Ramona serves as the lead therapist for her clinic's pelvic dysfunction program in Medford, OR. Her practice focuses on patients with urological, gynecological, and colorectal issues. Ramona has completed advanced studies in manual therapy with an emphasis on spinal manipulation, and visceral and fascial mobilization. She developed and instructs her visceral and fascial mobilization courses for the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute, and presents frequently at local, national, and international venues on topics relating to women’s health, pelvic floor dysfunction, and manual therapy.
How did you start in pelvic rehabilitation and visceral mobilization?
My PT training was through the Army-Baylor program, I was all in for orthopedics and sports medicine until October of 1990. I gave birth to my second child, an adorable, but behemoth, 9lb 9oz baby boy. His delivery, a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) was very traumatic on my pelvis, I sustained pudendal nerve injury and muscular avulsion. When I queried the attending OB-GYN about my complete lack of bladder control his response and I quote “do a thousand Kegels a day, and when you’re 40 and want a hysterectomy, we’ll fix your bladder then.” As for the desire to study visceral mobilization, that reflects back to my PT training through the US Army which was 30 years ago, when the MPT was just getting started. It was an accelerated program, to say the least. We received a master's in physical therapy with 15 months of schooling. Given the very limited timeline, which included affiliations and thesis, the emphasis in our training was on critical thinking and problem solving, not memorization and protocols which in 1985 was not the norm. I can still hear the words of our instructors “You have to figure it out, I am not going to give you a cookbook."
Following my initial training in the field of pelvic dysfunction in 1993 I started treating patients. I had a problem, I could not wrap my head around how I was to effectively treat bowel and bladder dysfunction…. without treating the bowel and bladder? I knew that there was more to this anatomy than just pelvic floor muscles and the abdominal wall, but at the time that is what was being treated. Once I started learning VM principles and applying the techniques to my patients I saw a vast improvement in my outcomes. I realized that the visceral fascia is a huge missing link in this field and that somewhere along the line the physical therapy community forgot one simple fact. We are not hollow; the visceral structures attach to the somatic frame through ligaments and connective tissue and have an influence on the biomechanics of said frame.
Why is the adoption of visceral mobilization so rare amongst practitioners who aren’t pelvic specialists?
Most likely several reasons, first they do not deal with dysfunctions that have visceral structures involved the way pelvic health therapists do. The second is a paucity of higher levels of evidence on the effectiveness of VM for musculoskeletal conditions. The third and most difficult issue to deal with is the broad-based claims that VM can be an effective treatment for issues ranging from acute trauma to emotional problems. One website called VM “bloodless surgery”. The problem simply is when anyone purports their technique to be a virtual panacea for all that ails mankind, without adequate evidence to back up the claims, the clinical world raises its collective antennae. These critical remarks are coming from a practitioner, published author, and educator in the VM field. The reality of evidence-based medicine is talk is cheap, research is not.
Why do you believe fascial mobilization is such an important aspect of clinical practice?
Most importantly because fascia is ubiquitous, it is EVERYWHERE throughout the body and it contains a vast neurological network to include nociceptors, mechanoreceptors, and proprioceptors just to name a few. The fascia was that stuff that we all dissected out of the way in anatomy lab so we could learn the assigned structures that soon would have a pin with a number stuck in it that we needed to know for a lab practical. We need to move beyond the “myofascia” and understand that the fascial system has multiple layers in the body starting at the panniculus which blends with the skin, the investing fascia surrounding muscles and forming septae, the visceral fascia which is by far the most complex and the deepest layer of fascia, the dura surrounding the central nervous system. All fascial structures, regardless of layer or location have their origin in the mesoderm of early embryologic development.
Ramona Horton's Fascial Mobilization Series 2022 Course Schedule
Mobilization of the Myofascial Layer: Pelvis and Lower Extremity Satellite Lab Course
Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Urinary System Satellite Lab Course
Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Gastrointestinal System Satellite Lab Course
Mobilization of Visceral Fascia: The Reproductive System Satellite Lab Course