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Meet Senior Teaching Assistant: Bethany Blake, PT, DPT, PRPC

Meet Senior Teaching Assistant: Bethany Blake, PT, DPT, PRPC

Blog Senior TA Series 1

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
Netter’s Anatomy
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.

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Meet Senior Teaching Assistant Maricel Briones, DPT, CMTPT, OCS

Meet Senior Teaching Assistant Maricel Briones, DPT, CMTPT, OCS

Blog Senior TA Series

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.

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