This week The Pelvic Rehab Report is featuring faculty member (and senior TA) Mora Pluchino, teaching assistant Amanda Moe, and faculty member Dawn Sandalcidi on the topic of pediatric issues from infancy through adolescence. Our first guest blogger, Mora Pluchino, PT, DPT, PRPC has published two books. The first of which is titled The Poop Train: Helping Your Child Understand Their Digestive System. This is a rhyming, kid-friendly book to help children understand how their poop is made. It has resources in the back to help parents and caregivers manage a child's digestive system for optimal function including proper voiding positions, ideas for activities to help voiding, fiber recommendations, fiber-filled food options, and belly massage instructions. Her second book, Practically Perfect Pelvic Health 101: A Visual Tour of the Pelvic Floor is a visual tour of the pelvic floor to help all genders and all ages understand general pelvic health. You can find Mora online at https://www.practicallyperfectpt.com/ and on Instagram @practicallyperfectpt.
As a pelvic health specialist, I treat the pelvic floors for all humans of all ages. I am frequently asked the question “Why would a child need pelvic floor therapy?” The response is “So many reasons!”
Colic, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and constipation are the top reasons for visits to a pediatrician in the first year (Indrio Et Al, 2014). As the mother of a child that struggled with all of these things, I can attest to the quality of life impact these diagnoses can create. A pelvic health specialist can help caregivers to manage these conditions with manual therapy, gross motor development assistance, and other infant care ideas to help manage the infant’s gastrointestinal system for better comfort and function.
Sillen (2001) reports that the neonatal bladder is controlled by neuronal pathways connecting with the cerebral cortex. The neonatal bladder function is characterized by small, frequent voids of varying volumes (Sillen 2001). Preterm infants had slightly different results thought to be due to an immature nervous system and this interrupted voiding disappeared for most as the children approached potty training age (Sillen, 2001). Still, infants born prematurely may be more at risk for pelvic floor issues!
What does this mean? There is a certain point in every child’s life where the bladder function, nervous system, and cognitive awareness match up. Ideally, this allows them to learn to hold and then void waste on a toilet. When toddlers are seen for pelvic floor issues, it is usually due to problems that arise during the potty training phase if they haven’t carried along with another pelvic floor issue from infancy. Pediatric pelvic floor issues, if not addressed early on, can continue on into preschool and elementary-aged children.
Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, instructed by Dawn Salicidi, reviews the basics of pediatric pelvic floor treatment. Pediatric pelvic floor issues can be divided into three categories: storage, voiding, and “other.” Storage issues include things like: increased or decreased voiding frequency, continuous incontinence, intermittent incontinence, enuresis, urgency, nocturia, constipation, and encopresis. Voiding dysfunctions present with hesitancy, straining, weak stream, intermittency, and dysuria. Other pediatric pelvic floor issues include symptoms like excessive holding, incomplete emptying, post micturition dribble, spraying, and pain in the bladder/ urethral/ genital areas.
Pediatric pelvic health requires the knowledge and skills used for treating adults with the additional abilities to relate to the child and their caregivers to help them manage and improve their symptoms. There is no age limit on the benefits of pelvic floor treatment!
Join us on Wednesday for the next installment of the pediatric pelvic floor three-part series: Pee Problems in Pre-Teens and Teens by Amanda Moe, DPT, PRPC. Amanda has written a book, Pelvic PT for ME: Storybook Explanation of Pelvic Physical Therapy for Children. You can find Amanda on Instagram @amandampelvicpt. The series will conclude on Friday with an interview with long-time faculty member, Dawn Sandalcidi PT, RCMT, BCB-PMD. Dawn Sandalcidi is a trailblazer in the field of Pediatric Bowel and Bladder Disorders and can be found on Instagram @kidsbowelbladder.