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The SoWH Blog

Stay up to date on the latest Section HQ news, patient and practitioner education and member stories!

It’s Not Normal : My Drive to Learn More

I’m a wife, a mom of three little boys, and the owner of a private practice caring specifically for Women’s Health. I began my career out of Physical Therapy school in the acute care setting and following the birth of my first child I learned just how important and necessary pelvic health physical therapy (also referred to as pelvic floor physical therapy) is following delivery. At that time, there were no providers within 50 miles of my home, so I sought to change this. I developed and implemented a hospital-based, outpatient pelvic floor program after taking both OB courses through the Section on Women's Health (SoWH) as well as Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Level 1 and Level 2. Unfortunately, the hospital closed with a 30-day notice in January of 2018, prompting me to launch my own practice to continue caring for this patient population. The practice has been open since March of 2018 and has cared for over 150 patients to date.

How My Pregnancy & Childbirth Experience Set Me on a Path to Pursue Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

My interest in women’s health physical therapy first began when I was working as a rehab technician in a clinic with two pelvic floor therapists. My personal interest was piqued after my own experiences before, during, and after childbirth. Interested to learn more once I began physical therapy school, I spent time during my winter break in 2017 to shadow a women’s health specialist. I was delighted to observe how large of an impact patient education could make for the pelvic health patient population.

How I Created My Own Path to Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

My name is Anietie Ukpe-Wallace and I am currently in my final year of the University of St. Augustine’s FLEX DPT program. Before I even considered physical therapy (PT) school, I taught yoga for several years and have always had an interest in the pelvic floor and how those set of muscles could impact a person’s ability to move through a pose or limit the amount of movement in their hips or back. The muscles that cannot be visibly seen externally held a lot of mystery to me. Having gone through my own trials with my own pelvic floor from miscarriages to surgery and pregnancy to birth, this region of the body continued to be a mystery even then despite all of that “stuff” that I had happening down there. Sad to say, PT school did not discuss much on the pelvic floor other than a short lecture on pregnancy and when I discovered that I could become a physical therapist with a specialty in the pelvic floor, my interest was piqued, and I began to investigate how to go about that path. During my time in PT school, I have been lucky enough to have two professors with whom I was able to discuss my interest and desires about pursuing this specialty. In addition to offering me resources to learn more about it and advising me to start seeking out courses, they also offered me encouragement to pursue this field since it was still growing and there is a high demand for this specialty.

Meet Loni Cooper, PT, DPT

My 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.

On Point : My Path to Pelvic Health

I first learned about physical therapy when I was dancing with a ballet company as a teenager in San Diego. I gained more exposure to the field when I went to college and minored in dance at Duke University. I worked closely with a Physical Therapist to create a pre-physical therapy association for Duke undergraduates. Many of my dance colleagues, however, sustained chronic foot and ankle injuries, and were subsequently sidelined for months at a time. Similar to the Section on Women's Health’s tight-knit community of hard working professionals, the ballet community in general is also a group of close and accomplished women (and men!), and unfortunately, injuries are part of the landscape due to the intense nature of training. I met two Physical Therapists during my dance training who educated me about conditioning and rehabilitating my body. I admired these women who understood the rehabilitative needs within the dance community, and went above and beyond their clinician duties to encourage me, teach me how to condition properly, and inspire holistic wellness in an otherwise intense climate. Despite my commitment to dance, I also loved the sciences—physiology and anatomy were my favorite courses—and I also loved talking to people about their lifestyle needs. Physical therapy has been the perfect way to marry my interests in anatomy and physiology, interacting with people, solving problems and keeping both myself and my patients active!

Meet Kaitlyn Bachman, SPT

I first became interested in pelvic health physical therapy while working with military service members, veterans, and their families. As a military spouse myself, I was afforded the opportunity of shadowing and later completing my clinical rotations through VA and military hospitals. During these experiences, I saw the immense impact pelvic health plays in improving the overall well being of this community. One of the most rewarding experiences of my physical therapy experience thus far has been to incorporate and apply the material and skills I gained from Pelvic Health Physical Therapy Level 1 into my personal care of patients at Blanchfield Army Community Hospital. From this experience I knew that I wanted to continue growing my abilities through completion of the CAPP program and return these skills to the military family I have come to know and love. Ultimately, I would additionally like to contribute to both the patient and clinical community by furthering Pelvic Health PT research.

Meet Allie Cartier, SPT

I am a third-year physical therapy student at Utica College. I just recently took pelvic health physical therapy coursework and it just confirmed my excitement for my future as a pelvic health Physical Therapist. My last full time clinical is at Specialty Physical Therapy that focuses on assessment and treatment of women's and men's health issues, pelvic pain, incontinence, musculoskeletal pain, and pregnancy-related pain and dysfunction. The clinic is owned by Dr. Wendy Featherstone, and she will be my clinical instructor.

Dissolving the Mystery of What's "Down There"

A North Carolina native and Tar Heel through and through, I attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for my undergraduate career. After a year of working as a rehab office coordinator in a skilled nursing facility, I made the transition to Virginia to attend Lynchburg College's Doctor of Physical Therapy program and graduated this past May. Like many others, my drive to pursue a career in physical therapy is rooted in the call to help others. I explored many career options in the healthcare field but was continuously drawn towards physical therapy. I was entranced by the power of being able to give someone back their normal function and return them to what they loved to do. And now, I have the amazing opportunity to do just that.

Meet Stephanie Oscilowski, SPT

As an introverted, first year student from University of Maryland Baltimore, with a broken phone, I made the trip to Portland to attend my first APTA conference, the National Student Conclave (NSC), in search of other passionate students.

Meet Grace Waters, SPT

Meet Grace Waters, SPT Women's health physical therapy has been an interest of mine since I started physical therapy school two years ago at Tennessee State University. The research I have assisted with during PT school explores an episiotomy's effect on postnatal urinary incontinence. While conducting the literature review for this topic, I was astonished to discover the scarcity of quality and current research regarding postnatal urinary incontinence. Articles on the subject have been published, but few have high quality methods and results. We recently covered the women's health portion of our curriculum. A pelvic floor specialist talked to our class about the types of patients she sees, common pathologies involved, and various treatment techniques available to treat patients experiencing pathologies related to the pelvic floor.

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