Bethany Blake, PT, DPT, PRPC sat down with The Pelvic Rehab Report this week to discuss herself and how she came to TA for Herman & Wallace.
Who are you? Describe your clinical practice.
I’m Bethany Blake. I co-own Arkansas Pelvic Health and use social media (@thebladderbaddies previously @thekegelchronicles) to educate about pelvic health.
At Arkansas Pelvic Health we believe everyone should be able to live their life confidently, without pelvic pain or leakage. We believe pelvic therapy should be a standard, not a luxury, and we are on a mission to change this, one pelvis at a time. That's why we started this business, to raise the standard of care in women's health.
As a patient at Arkansas Pelvic Health, you will be paired one-on-one with a Doctor of Physical Therapy, never a tech or computer. You will never be rushed, and your pain and symptoms will be validated. We’re tired of doing things like they've always been done, and we’re tired of women's pain being ignored. We practice evidence-based, patient-centered, compassionate care to get you lasting relief from your pelvic symptoms and get you back to living your life!
What has your educational journey as a pelvic rehab therapist looked like? Where did you start?
I really jumped all in. I took Pelvic Floor Level 1, Pelvic Floor Level 2A, and Pelvic Floor Level 2B all within a month of each other. Very shortly after that, I took a visceral class with Ramona Horton and started teaching courses. I love learning and refuse to settle with not knowing something.
How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
I started my career as an outpatient orthopedic therapist. I picked this site as a clinical rotation because of one therapist in particular, Amanda Brooks-Ritchie. I liked the training that she had and the certifications she was working toward. I had a lot of pregnant and postpartum patients there and worked with a team of pelvic health therapists. Anytime treatment didn’t involve actual vaginal exams, they got “kicked out” to ortho…me. I learned a lot about pelvic health during that time and eventually decided to jump on board the pelvic health ship. I love zooming in and out of the pelvis and bringing the orthopedic background into pelvic health. Soon after I took the courses, I got my PRPC. I realized when studying for that certification, I wanted to merge my orthopedics and pelvic floor, which looked different from how I was practicing at my then-current job. I reached out to a classmate, colleague, and friend, Beth Anne Travis, who had previously approached me about starting a clinic, and told her I was ready to go!
What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?
I love treating pain patients - pelvic pain in general, interstitial cystitis, pudendal neuralgia, and pain with intercourse. It is so rewarding to give people a part of their life back that they hate and to help their bodies work for them instead of against them.
If you could get a message out to physical therapists about pelvic rehab what would it be?
If you suspect pelvic floor issues with your patient, don’t try to manage them yourself. You are potentially doing more harm than good by blindly issuing Kegels and TA contractions. If you aren’t sure, call your friendly neighborhood pelvic PT, and they would be very happy to help you with your patient. I also love the Cozean pelvic floor screening tool.
What lesson have you learned in a course, from an instructor, or from a colleague or mentor that has stayed with you?
Pelvic floor issues are complex. The evaluation is an ongoing process. You won’t know everything for everyone, but you know how to research, you have colleagues you can talk to, and don’t stop trying. Pain is absolutely not part of being a woman.
What do you find is the most useful resource for your practice?
My colleagues. We have a weekly hour where we chat about cases, practice new techniques, and review. It is the best time of the week.
What is in store for you in the future as a clinician?
Arkansas Pelvic Health is growing and expanding. I see opportunities for growth in space and location. I will continue patient care (it’s my favorite part) and also educating the public on social media and through different PT schools.
What books or articles have impacted you as a clinician?
The Interstitial Cystitis Solution
Come As You Are
Headache in the Pelvis
The Body Keeps the Score
and many articles!
What has been your favorite Herman & Wallace Course and why?
Pelvic Floor Level 2B is my all-time favorite because I love treating pain conditions. I also really enjoyed the Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist course.
What lesson have you learned from a Herman & Wallace instructor that has stayed with you?
Progress is not linear!
What do you love about assisting at courses?
I love teaching people about the pelvis, knowing that they will go out and help so many people. I love the updated evidence at the courses, reconnecting with colleagues, and meeting new ones.
What is your message to course participants who are just starting their journey?
Sometimes the load is heavy, but you get stronger, and colleagues help carry it! This is the most rewarding job you will ever have. It is an honor that people let you help them with a vulnerable issue, don’t take it lightly.