Maricel Briones, DPT, CMTPT, OCS sat down with The Pelvic Rehab Report this week to discuss herself and how she came to TA for Herman & Wallace. You can find Maricel this fall TA'ing Pelvic Floor Level 2B in Virginia Beach, VA.
Hi Maricel, can you share a little bit about yourself and your clinical practice?
Hi, I'm Maricel Briones, DPT, CMTPT, OCS and I've lived in Virginia Beach, VA my whole life. I graduated from Old Dominion University with a Bachelor in Exercise Science and followed that up with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree. I am now a Partner, Area Director, and Co-Leader of Pelvic Health with Ivy Rehab and have been a practicing therapist since 2012. I became an Orthopedic Clinical Specialist and Certified Myofascial Trigger Point Specialist for Dry Needling and recently became a Pelvic Health Therapist in 2020. My current clinic opened in December 2021, located in the Town Center area of Virginia Beach, VA. We are in the middle of expanding. We are a mix of outpatient orthopedic and pelvic health for men and women. My whole clinic is trained to support each other with all cases, even with pelvic health, and work together as a team for each patient's visit.
What has your educational journey as a pelvic rehab therapist looked like? Where did you start?
I started in early 2020 with Herman & Wallace (H&W) Pelvic Floor Level 1 in Virginia Beach, VA, then continued and took Pelvic Floor Level 2B towards the summer. It started a little slow because of Covid but it picked up in October 2022 and has been very busy since. In 2021, I continued taking more H&W courses including Pelvic Floor Level 2A, Male Pelvic Floor, and Pelvic Floor Capstone. I continued to host around 5-7 H&W courses to review the material and encourage local ortho therapists to join the pelvic health world. I eventually became a teaching assistant (TA) for H&W and have been loving it ever since. I became a Senior TA earlier this year.
How did you get involved in the pelvic rehabilitation field?
My regional director first asked and brought it to my attention, but I declined. A year later, she further explained the impact we can have for patients with pelvic floor conditions and got me convinced. I gave it a shot in 2020 and realized it was where I should be. It's the most rewarding type of treatment we can provide for a patient. We are helping a hidden population that we did not know exists right in front of us. Helping them with critical functions needed in life, voiding, BM, sex, etc.
What patient population do you find most rewarding in treating and why?
Either the pediatric or geriatric population for urinary incontinence (UI). I enjoy teaching them good bladder habits and how to properly contract their pelvic floor muscles. My first patient was an 80-year-old who had urinary incontinence for 20 years and after 1 week of pelvic therapy, she went from changing her pad around 8 times a day to only 2. I had my first pediatric patient who had seen 4 specialists in 1 year for UI. After 2 weeks of pelvic floor rehab, she went from having 4-6 accidents a day to 1-2 every other day.
If you could get a message out to physical therapists about pelvic rehab what would it be?
Don't be afraid of the "V". A lot of PTs are uninterested and do not realize how much pelvic floor muscle training is similar to orthopedic, either stretch it or strengthen it, and provide a lot of education on habits. Also, it's all about functional movement, so connect the pelvic floor with the upper and lower body for optimal outcomes. I did an internal Ivy Rehab Ted Talk in Florida for our Director's Summit in May 2021, titled "Don't be afraid of the 'V'". What you're nervous of or afraid of, may actually be where you are meant to be or do.
What lesson have you learned in a course, from an instructor, or from a colleague or mentor that has stayed with you?
Continue to learn no matter what, and never settle. My treatment programs and assessments evolve every year because of continued learning and advice from colleagues. Always be open to different approaches and be patient with all complex cases.
What do you find is the most useful resource for your practice?
Facebook groups such as Global Pelvic Physio (run by Michelle Lyons), Pelvic PT Newbies (run by Jessica and Andrew Reale), Pelvic PT Huddle (run by PelvicSanity and Nicole Cozean), and Pelvic Floor Biofeedback (run by Tiffany Ellsworth Lee) have been my go-to for learning about cases, ideas, etc.
What is in store for you in the future as a clinician?
I plan to take the PRPC exam soon for board certification. I am also working with Ivy Rehab to create a year-long Pelvic Health Specialization program.
What has been your favorite Herman & Wallace Course and why?
Pelvic Floor Level 2B, since I learned more in-depth manual therapy for the pelvic floor and it helped nail down the anatomy of the pelvic region. I also love the manual therapy skills that we learned in Capstone.
What lesson have you learned from a Herman & Wallace instructor that has stayed with you?
Lengthen before strengthen!
What do you love about assisting at courses?
It's an information refresher. The more you hear it, the more it sticks. I also love teaching the students the concepts and anatomy that were originally confusing for me.
What is your message to course participants who are just starting their journey?
Continue to take more courses on pelvic floor rehab as there are so many different pelvic health conditions. Take the same concepts you learned about muscle training for any body part and apply them to the pelvic region. Connect the pelvic region to the whole body and focus on actively training it with function. It's not just about motor control of the pelvic floor muscles, it's coordinating it with the abdominals, hips, back, etc. Not all visits are hands-on one-on one-on-one. If you create a robust well-rounded program for them and they will progress quicker than you expect.