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The SoWH Blog

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Meet Loni Cooper, PT, DPT

Loni CooperMy name is Loni Cooper and I am a physical therapist in Northwest Arkansas. I recently graduated from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in May 2018. Shortly after, I accepted my first job in an outpatient setting where I am working towards building a pelvic therapy caseload and advocating for this specific area of physical therapy. When I first started Physical Therapy (PT) school, I really did not know the exact field or area that I wanted to specialize in. Honestly, I had never even heard the terms “pelvic therapy” or “women’s health physical therapy” before. When I was on my very first clinical rotation in my first year of school, I was exposed to a clinic that was very heavily centered on this patient population. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to learn more about this area. Being a personal survivor of sexual abuse, I began researching and learning about how some of the symptoms that I experienced and that others had once told me were “normal” were actually treatable. I completed my elective coursework in this area to be able to learn more and prepare me for my elective clinical rotation in pelvic therapy.

I also completed a directed study focused on the care and treatment that the postpartum population receives in America compared to countries around the world. I learned very quickly that more can be done, and needs to be done, to meet the needs of women after having a baby. The fourth trimester is becoming more talked about, but I want to be a voice and advocate because the job is still not done. There continues to be men and women living with very vulnerable and sensitive impairments that they do not know can be treated. Oftentimes, I am the first person who tells a patient that they are not alone in their experiences and that although common; the symptoms are not normal and are many times treatable. I love being able to empathize with these individuals and be a part of their journey to finding healing and wellness.

Working towards furthering my education in pelvic health physical therapy, I have taken Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Level 1 and Level 2 through the Section on Women’s Health. I have made it my goal to continue learning and being an advocate for patients, who once like myself, do not know about the option of pelvic health physical therapy. 

Loni Cooper is the recipient of Women in PT Summit Scholarship funded by the Section on Women's Health. Loni is attending the summit in New York City September 21-22, 2018 to accomplish these goals and find the power for being an even better patient advocate and leader in this field.  

From left: Loni Cooper, UC Ossai (SoWH Treasurer), Secili DeStefano (SoWH President Elect), Carrie Pagliano (SoWH President), Lori Mize (SoWH Vice President)

Women in PT Summit SoWH

From left: Center: UC Ossai. From Left: Loni Cooper, Lori Mize (SoWH Vice President), Carrie Pagliano (SoWH President), Secili DeStefano (SoWH President Elect).

SoWH at Women in PT Summit

Loni Cooper, PT, DPT
Loni Cooper, PT, DPT
As part of her scholarship award, Loni received free registration, up to $850 to spend on travel/per diem and 1:1 mentorship meeting with the SoWH Vice President, Lori Mize, PT, DPT, WCS. Stay tuned for more Section on Women's Health sponsored scholarships by visiting here: https://www.womenshealthapta.org/scholarships/

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How did you decide to pursue pelvic health physical therapy? What is your background? I hadn’t actually planned to specialize in pelvic health in physical therapy (PT) school or the first years after graduation.  My first interest in the area came in PT school when I was assigned the pelvis and pelvic floor for an anatomy project.  I was fascinated by the complexity of the region (and still believe a strong understanding of the underlying anatomy is crucial for a pelvic physical therapist).  About 15 years ago, Hoag Hospital asked me to create a pelvic health program. They allowed me to pursue a fellowship program with an experienced local therapist, and I was able to take amazing continuing education courses from some of the leaders in the field at that time.  

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Pelvic health physical therapy can be a difficult topic for many people to discuss. It can be embarrassing, confusing, and even painful. Society tends to discourage discussion of these topics, causing confusion and lack of awareness regarding what is or is not normal. The reality is that pelvic floor dysfunction is common and there is something we can do about it. As one of my professors once pointed out, “There is an entire aisle dedicated to adult pads and diapers in every Target, someone is buying them!”