In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Jennafer Vande Vegte, MSPT, BCB-PMD, PRPC
How did you get started in pelvic rehab?
A supervisor of mine suggested that I go to a course and develop a pelvic floor program. I thought she was nuts. As a late twenty-something, I wanted to work with athletes. Finally she convinced me to go. Imagine my surprise when I felt like a duck in the water in the Pelvic Floor Level 1 class.
Who or what inspired you?
Truly I was smitten by Holly Herman at PF1. Her unique teaching style combining her incredible knowledge and fascinating stories with compassion and clarity is something to behold. Later I met Kathe at PF2A and was so inspired by both of these amazing women.
What have you found most rewarding in treating this patient population?
It is such an honor and a privilege to do what we do. At times we share a facet of our patients lives that even their spouses or best friends don't know about. It is not rare for someone to tell me, "I've never told anyone that before." Being trusted to share in these private experiences with others is a blessing to me.
What do you find more rewarding about teaching?
That's easy! I love the "ah-ha" moment when the light comes on in someone's eyes. When they "get it", whether it's finding the ATLA for the first time or understand another treatment direction for a complex patient, this is the moment that I love. I also treasure being around other people who love to do what I love to do!
How did you get started teaching pelvic rehab?
My hospital hosted the PF series years ago and I got to TA. I invited Holly and Kathe out to dinner and basically begged them to think of me if they ever had a teaching position open. Luckily the company was growing and I was shocked to have an opportunity to teach PF2B within a year. I was thinking maybe in 5 years, but I jumped at the chance.
What was it like the first time you taught a course to a group of therapists?
I was SO nervous. I studied like crazy for 6 months! I thought I did a horrible job until I read the reviews at the end of the course and realized I did okay.
What trends/changes are you finding in the field of pelvic rehab?
The amount of knowledge and research in our field is exploding. There are amazing blogs and recourses online for both patients and therapists to get information. Patients are coming in much more educated. Doctors seem to be getting the message that pelvic floor PT is a good first line option for their patients.
If you could get a message to all therapists about pelvic rehab, what would it be?
Every therapist should know a pelvic floor therapist and know when a consult would be appropriate. All therapists should try to feel more comfortable asking appropriate patients about elimination and sex.
If you could make a significant change to the field of pelvic rehab or the field of PT, what would it be?
I would love to see more of a team approach between physicians, PTs, therapists, pain clinics, nutritionalist, etc. especially in treating complex pelvic pain.
What have you learned over the years that has been most valuable to you?
Oh so much. Listen to your patient and hear what he or she or he is telling you. Don't feel like you have to have everything figured out on the initial evaluation. Treat what you find and continue to evaluate and listen.
What is your favorite topic about which you teach?
I think it changes each time, but right now I am really interested in relaxation techniques and down training especially as we understand more about the brain's involvement in pain responses.
Do you have a burning question about pelvic rehabilitation? Herman & Wallace faculty member Michelle Lyons will be happy to help! The Pelvic Rehab Report will be conducting an interview with Michelle and we are inviting you to submit your questions. Head over to www.hermanwallace.com/michelle-lyons-question-and-answer if you are curious to hear about what it's like treating pelvic pain patients, some of Michelle's experiences practicing abroad, teaching courses to practitioners, or about her favorite pasta sauce! We will take the top 5 or 10 questions and put Michelle through the ringer.
Michelle Lyons PT, MISCP, is a graduate of University College Dublin, Ireland, with over eighteen years experience working in women's health. A firm believer in integrative healthcare, she incorporates therapeutic pilates, yoga and lifestyle advice into her treatment protocols.
Michelle has appeared in local newspapers, radio and television programs speaking on women's health issues. She has presented programs in Ireland, Canada and the U.S. including The Wise Woman weekend, The International Herbal Symposium and The New England Women's Herbal Conference and for the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists.
Michelle has written several courses which she instructs with Herman & Wallace. The list includes Menopause Rehabilitation and Symptom Management, Special Topics in Women's Health: Endometriosis, Infertilty and Hysterectomy, Oncology and the Female Pelvic Floor: Female Reproductive and Gynecologic Cancers, and Oncology and the Male Pelvic Floor: Male Reproductive, Bladder, and Colorectal Cancers.
The Pelvic Rehab Report had an opportunity to interview Dawn Sandalcidi, the creator and instructor of "Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction". Dawn has developed a pediatric dysfunctional voiding treatment program in which she lectures on nationally. Dawn has published articles in the Journal of Urologic Nursing, the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy, and the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy. Let's hear more from Dawn about her Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction course!
What essential skill does your course add to a practitioner’s toolkit?
Adding pediatrics to your practice truly allows you to treat the pelvic floor through the lifespan. If you are a pediatric therapist adding this most important specialty will complete the picture of your entire patient.
Will your course allow practitioners to see new/more patients?
There are so many therapists who tell me that while treating a parent they share a story about their child being a bed wetter or having incontinence. That has opened up many doors for including this population into my practice. Be careful though! Once the pediatricians, school nurses, pediatric urologists and GI docs know there is someone out there that can take care of kids you will be flooded with patients!!
Why did you develop this course?
I began treating pediatrics after having success with adult patients in a large urology practice over 25 years ago. One of the urologists called me and asked me to take care of this little girl who had already been operated on twice and was headed toward kidney transplants. My reply was "what is wrong with kids?????" So my journey began- observing surgery and learning how children developed pelvic floor dysfunction. This kiddo had vesicoureteral reflux or a back flow of urine form the bladder to the kidneys causing frequent infections and kidney damage. My goal in this course is to take the basic knowledge we have as therapists and apply it to a population of children who suffer terribly with urinary and fecal incontinence. The psychological side effects from incontinence are significant and we now have the tools to help!!