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Posted by on in Guest Blog Post

This post was written by Megan Pribyl MSPT, who teaches the course Nutrition Perspectives for the Pelvic Rehab Therapist. You can catch Megan teaching this course in June in Seattle.


Blog by Megan Pribyl MSPT

Convalescence and mitohormesis…really big words that in a scientific way suggest “BALANCE”.


In our modern world, there are many factors that influence the pervasive trend of being “on” or in perpetual “go mode”. We see the effects of this in clinical practice every day. The sympathetic system is in overdrive and the parasympathetic system is in a state of neglect and disrepair. And so we reflect on that word “balance” through the concepts of convalescence and mitohormesis.


Sexual dysfunction is a common negative consequence of Multiple Sclerosis, and may be influenced by neurologic and physical changes, or by psychological changes associated with the disease progression. Because pelvic floor muscle health can contribute to sexual health, the relationship between the two has been the subject of research studies for patients with and without neurologic disease. Researchers in Brazil assessed the effects of treating sexual dysfunction with pelvic floor muscle training with or without electrical stimulation in women diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS.) Thirty women were allocated randomly into 3 treatment groups. All participants were evaluated before and after treatment for pelvic floor muscle (PFM) function, PFM tone, score on the PERFECT scheme, flexibility of the vaginal opening, ability to relax the PFM’s, and with the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). Rehabilitation interventions included pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) using surface electromyographic (EMG) biofeedback, neuromuscular electrostimulation (NMES), sham NMES, or transcutaneous tibial nerve stimulation (TTNS). The treatments offered to each group are shown below.


sEMG biofeedback PFMT: Use of intravaginal sensor and 30 slow, maximal-effort contractions followed by 3 minutes of fast, maximal-effort contractions in supine.
Sham NMES: sacral surface electrodes with pulse width of 50 ms at 2 Hz, on/off 2/60 seconds for 30 minutes
Intravaginal NMES: 200 ms at 10 Hz for 30 minutes using vaginal sensor.
TTNS: surface electrodes in the left lower leg with pulse width at 200 ms at 10 Hz for 30 minutes.
Group 1, n = 6 X X
Group 2, n = 7 X X
Group 3, n = 7 X     X


The following factors made up some of the inclusion criteria for the study: age at least 18 years, diagnosis of relapsing-remitting MS, 4 month history of stable symptoms, currently participating in a sexually active relationship, and able to contract the pelvic floor muscles. Participants were excluded if they had delivered within the prior 6 months, had pelvic organ prolapse (POP) greater than stage I on the POP-Q, were perimenopausal or menopausal. Neurologic function symptoms were also monitored so that subjects could be evaluated for any potential flare-up. Home program instruction in PFMT included 30 slow and 30 fast PFM contractions to be completed in varied postures 3x/day.


In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Michelle Lyons, PT, MISCP


Michelle Lyons

How did you get started in pelvic rehab?

Like a lot of therapists whom I talk to when I travel and teach, it was after the birth of my daughter, when I realized what an under-served population postpartum women are! After childbirth, the focus almost entirely shifts to the baby, and poor old Mum is left, by and large, to fend for herself. Now, more than ever, when we are looking at shorter hospital stays and the lack of maternity leave, we as pelvic therapists need to grow awareness of the needs of women throughout the life cycle and what we have to offer. Pelvic rehab is a high touch, low risk, cost effective and highly effective (yet under used) treatment option. I am passionate about spreading the Pelvic Rehab Gospel!


This post was written by Debora Chassé DPT, WCS, CLT-LANA, who teaches the course Lymphatic Drainage for Pelvic Pain. You can catch Debbie teaching this course in April in Arizona.


Deborah Hickman

Lymphedema Management in Women’s Health Physical Therapy is a home study module developed for the physical therapist who would like to learn more about lymphedema as well as prepare for the lymphedema portion of Women’s Health Clinical Specialist exam. Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT) has been used universally to treat lymphedema since the 1800’s. The well-known Foldi Clinic is located in Germany and in the 1990’s CDT was brought to America to train practitioners. You will learn about the anatomy and physiology of the lymphatic system, lymphedema diagnoses, differential diagnoses and the phases and steps involved in CDT. The course manual takes you through the physical therapy initial evaluation for lymphedema following the guidelines for specialty practice. It also contains many case studies designed to enhance your application of CDT. CDT has many concepts and procedures that will additionally help patients with inflammation, autoimmune disorders and pain. It is a must for all physical therapist.


Do you need another tool for treating pelvic pain and pelvic congestion? Manual lymph drainage for Pelvic Pain is a two-day intermediate course that covers the lymphatic system, lymphedema, pelvic pain, manual lymphatic drainage (MLD), and how this procedure is used to reduce inflammation and pelvic pain. The course will reveal the relationship between lymph flow and pelvic pain. Research shows that manual lymph drainage increases venous flow. In one case study, researchers found that using MLD on a patient with pelvic congestion decreased the patient’s symptoms, impairments and pain by 50% following 5 consecutive days of MLD. Another case study reported that a chronic pelvic pain patient had both an increase in energy level and a 50% decrease in abdominal inflammation and pelvic pain. Manual Lymphatic Drainage for Pelvic Pain is a procedure developed by Debora Chassé using MLD techniques on the vulva and in the vaginal vault to stimulate the lymphatics in the vagina to return lymph fluid to the circulatory system. This is a low risk treatment with outstanding outcomes for all pelvic pain diagnoses. This course is an excellent adjunct for clinicians interested in learning how to evaluate the lymphatic function, design an MLD treatment plan and master MLD treatment strokes for pelvic pain patients.

Posted by on in Institute News


In order to refer patients to needed care, it is vital that health care providers understand the roles that each provider plays. Within pelvic rehabilitation, this issue presents barriers and opportunities, as many providers do not know about pelvic rehabilitation, and about the wide scope of care that we can provide towards bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain in men, women, and children. An article written by a physiotherapist and published in the British Journal of Midwifery highlights the issues such barriers can cause. Utilizing a focus group of seven 3rd year midwifery students, a researchers asked questions about student midwives' perceptions of the physiotherapist's role in obstetrics. Five distinct themes were proposed as a result of the focus group interviews:


1. Role recognition: in order to enable services for patients, understanding other professional roles is valuable.
2. Lack of knowledge: participants expressed a lack of knowledge about the physiotherapy role, and the students wondered if they should be seeking out that knowledge, or if the physiotherapists should be educating the midwives about their role. Prior inter professional education opportunities, which provides the students with potential for understanding other professions, were not viewed as positive by the students.
3. Perceived views existed: Although participants did not have a clear view of what a physiotherapist's role is in obstetrics, they had developed ideas (accurate or not) about the role.
4. Utilization of physiotherapy: Numerous barriers to utilization of physiotherapy in obstetrics rehabilitation were identified, and variations in referrals and utilization of PT were noted.
5. Benefits of physiotherapy: Participants' lack of knowledge, lack of feedback from patients, and issues such as waiting periods prior to getting care limited the stated benefits of physiotherapy care in obstetrics.


In order to avoid working independently of each other, physical therapists and midwives, along with other care providers for women, must understand the complementary roles we play. One of the best ways that we can create a shared understanding is through spending time in each other's educational or clinical environments. Each of us can take responsibility for providing some level of education towards teaching other providers what we do, what we know, and how we can collaborate. One of the ways that the Institute attempts to make this task easier is to provide you with presentations that are already created for this purpose. Our "What is Pelvic Rehab?" powerpoint presentation allows you to edit the slides created for referring providers. Within the presentation, basic information about pelvic therapy and specific research about pelvic rehabilitation for various conditions is combined. To check out the "What is Pelvic Rehab?" presentation and other patient and provider education materials, head to the Products and Resources page and see what information may help you (and your patients) share information about the role of the pelvic rehabilitation provider in collaboration with other health professionals.

Posted by on in Institute News

Researchers using a community-based sample in the upper Midwest cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul surveyed 138 women between the ages of 18-49 with diagnosed vulvodynia. Vulvodynia was classified as primary (pain started with first tampon use or sexual penetration) or secondary pain started following a period of intercourse that was not painful. The authors aimed to determine the rates of remission of vulvar pain versus pain-free time periods. Remission was defined in this study as having at least one period of time that was pain-free for at least 3 months. Generalized vulvodynia categorization was made after clinical exam and was determined by the subject having pain at each point on the perineal “clock” with cotton swab provocation.


The authors reported that women diagnosed with primary vulvodynia were 43% less likely to report vulvar pain remission that women with a diagnosis of secondary vulvodynia. They also found that obesity and having generalized versus localized vestibulodynia was associated with reduced rates of remission. The theory was discussed that women who have different types of vulvodynia may have varied underlying mechanisms of pain that lead to differences in symptoms. Specifically, the paper reports on recent brain imaging work that suggests women who have primary vulvodynia demonstrate more characteristics of central pain processing.


In relation to health behaviors (such as seeking pain therapy), the authors state that the data may not be sufficiently powered to determine the influence of therapy on remission. They do agree that “…understanding of both spontaneous remission and improvement owing to therapy will ultimately provide guidance in developing more effective interventions.” Because a significant portion of women do not seek care for vulvar pain (for unknown reasons), a bias is created in the research through the lack of representation of those women who are not being studied through healthcare access.


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


Jennafer Vande Vegte

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.


Posted by on in Institute News


A report in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality describes the level of emphasis placed on particular sexual health topics in Canadian medical schools. Both the level of emphasis and the utilized teaching methods among 51 residency programs for obstetrics and gynecology (OBG), family medicine (FM), and undergraduate medicine (UGM) were evaluated. Program Directors and Associate Deans of the respective programs were electronically surveyed about the following topics: contraception, disease prevention, sexual violence/assault, childhood sexual abuse, sexual dysfunction, childhood and adolescent sexuality, role of sexuality in relationships, aging and sexuality, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, and social and cultural differences.


The topic that received the most emphasis among the 3 program types was “information and skills for contraception.” Disease prevention for sexually-transmitted diseases was also a high-ranking topic.

The authors point out that while it seems understandable that OBG residencies may not include a significant amount of training in male sexual health, there was an absence of evidence on training in child sexual abuse and adolescent female sexuality in the OBG programs. The article notes other omissions of emphasis such as the lack of training among family practice residencies in transgender and gender identity issues, disability and sexuality, and cultural differences.


In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Holly Tanner PT, DPT, MA, OCS, WCS, PRPC, LMP, BCB-PMB, CCI


Holly Tanner

How did you get started in pelvic rehab?

I joined Apple Physical Therapy as an orthopedic outpatient clinic manager back in 2000. The previous manager had begun treating women who had urinary incontinence and we had this (huge) old biofeedback unit. I told the company owners that I would be willing to take a course in treating urinary incontinence, which I quickly did. I also quickly learned that to do a great job in pelvic rehab, and to serve the patients well, you need to keep taking classes to learn about all the other issues that make pelvic rehab so potentially complex and engaging.




This post was written by Steven Dischiavi, MPT, DPT, ATC, COMT, CSCS, who teaches the course Biomechanical Assessment of the Hip and Pelvis. You can catch Steve teaching this course in May at Duke University in Durham, NC.


One thing that jumps out at me when treating a professional athlete, is that they have “a guy or gal” for everything! Most high profile athletes have a physical therapist, athletic trainer, acupuncturist, nutritionist, massage therapist, personal trainers for speed, power, cross fit, and pretty much “a guy or gal” for anything that has something to do with athletic performance or injury prevention. In most recent years I have been hearing more and more that athletes use someone that can analyze their movement and develop corrective exercises for them. These professionals are not just physical therapists, but some are personal trainers, exercise physiologists, chiropractors, and so on…


Upcoming Continuing Education Courses

Jul 10, 2015 - Jul 12, 2015
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