Women’s Health Program | New Braunfels Regional Rehabilitation Hospital

Hello, my name is Kelsie Martin and I’m a
physical therapist at New Braunfels Regional Rehab Hospital in the outpatient department. I’m excited to take a few minutes today to
talk to you guys about our new Women’s Health or Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Program. So what is a pelvic floor, and why is it important
to you? The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles,
ligaments, and connected tissues in the lowest part of your pelvis. These tissues work together to provide support
to the contents above them, such as your bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. They also lend to pelvic stability, help with the function of pelvic organs, such as voiding and sexual function, and also play a huge role in posture and breathing. So what is a pelvic floor PT? Pelvic floor physical therapists are specially
trained in the anatomy, physiology and function of the lumbo-pelvic region. Just like any other physical therapists, we
are trained to identify and treat dysfunction with, specifically, the pelvic floor as well
as the contributing systems so that we can have a positive effect on the system as a
whole. So what does pelvic floor dysfunction look
like? It presents in many ways, but one of the most common that people are aware of is urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence refers to accidental
urine leakage. This can occur with urge. It can also occur with increases in intra-abdominal pressure, such as with a cough, or a sneeze or a laugh. It can also occur with functional activity,
such as walking, standing, lifting, exercise, etc. So although very, very common, urinary incontinence is not normal. Recently I’ve seen commercials that are talking about how to deal with the symptoms of urinary incontinence, such as using protective pads
and things of that nature. But pelvic floor physical therapy can have such a positive effect that these things are not necessary, and we can even resolve urinary incontinence
completely. So many people wonder, what does a pelvic
floor physical therapist do, and what does treatment entail? So you may have even heard about Kegel exercises
as a means to strengthen the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor PT goes way beyond Kegels. So just like any other physical therapist, we look at the contributing systems and see what we can do
to have a positive effect on the whole. So examples of common treatments with pelvic
floor PT include strengthening of muscles that are weak, include relaxation of muscles that are maybe too tight and not doing their job effectively. We can also use soft tissue manipulation to
help with the soft tissues, as well as the joints that may be contributing to pelvic
floor dysfunction. And then patient education about lifestyle
modifications, bladder retraining, all sorts of things that we can do to have a positive
impact on an individual’s symptoms. Like I mentioned earlier, pelvic floor dysfunction
is very common, and it effects individuals of all ages. Some statistics show that individuals age
20 or older, about 25% are having some level of pelvic floor dysfunction. So that means that you or someone that you know may be having some symptoms. Unfortunately, many individuals suffer in
silence for years and years. Very often as a pelvic floor PT I hear
“I wish I would have come in sooner” and I think that some individuals are maybe embarrassed about their symptoms, or feel that this is something that this is something that is just a normal part of aging and something that they’re just going to have to deal with for the rest of their life. And some, I think just don’t have an awareness that this a condition that can be treated
with physical therapy. Some people are probably a little scared of
what physical therapy entails for the pelvic floor, but I promise you it’s nothing any
different than what you would get from a therapist working on another part of your body. These are muscles just like any other part
of the body, and we’ll treat them as such. So I strongly recommend that you talk to your
friends, talk to your family, and more importantly, talk to your doctor about your symptoms, and ask to have a pelvic floor evaluation and treatment here at
New Braunfels Regional Rehab Hospital. I’m really excited to have the opportunity
to work with members of my community, and help de-stigmatize and help people feel supported
in their care. Thank you!

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