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Building Awareness of Women’s and Men’s Health Physical Therapy: A Call for Outreach during National Physical Therapy Month

Posted on: October 8th, 2016 by Kristin Clarke No Comments

Alexandra HillBy Alexandra Hill, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT

I recently co-presented a half-day workshop at the 37th annual American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) Week event in Denver, Colorado. Although AUGS PFD Week programming has traditionally been geared toward researchers and physicians, recent years have seen increased involvement from advanced practitioners, allied health professionals, and physical therapists.

Two superb physical therapists–Ingrid Harm-Ernandes, PT, WCS, BCB-PMD, and Dee Hartmann, PT, DPT–presented with me at this scientific meeting for healthcare professionals interested in or practicing female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.

As the body of evidence supporting PT interventions for pelvic floor dysfunction continues to grow, this conference was an avenue for Ingrid, Dee, and me to educate fellow healthcare practitioners about the research supporting musculoskeletal assessment and treatment.

Our workshop included education about pelvic anatomy, interventions that women’s health physical therapists can employ, and basic pelvic external and internal palpating skills.

One exciting aspect of our presentation was that a majority of participants were physicians and nurse practitioners. I was encouraged to see how intrigued these practitioners were when learning about our skill set and the in-depth assessment we perform on our patients.

Local practicing women’s health PTs assisted with the workshop by volunteering as models for the attendees to practice palpation. The physical therapists’ knowledge and ability to give feedback was invaluable. Participants commented during and after the workshop that they will be modifying how they palpate to ensure a more thorough assessment based on feedback from the models.

Participants also left the course with a better understanding of when to refer to a women’s health PT and how to better explain to their patients what to expect with physical therapy.

Attending AUGS PFD Week also afforded more insight into how other healthcare providers view our profession. While many happily exclaimed, “You’re a physical therapist? You all are the best!” and have local women’s health PTs available to refer to, some weren’t as familiar with the role of physical therapy or didn’t know how to find one (cue soapbox on the importance of PT and the PT Locator feature on the SOWH site).

This was a reminder that we, as a profession and specialty, need to continue improving our brand and presence with other healthcare providers. Women’s health PTs have a unique skill set that still can be used more widely. The next time you have a chance to educate healthcare providers about what we do–whether it be an in-service, a lecture or workshop, or an elevator pitch–grab it, especially during National Physical Therapy Month, which runs through October 31!

AUTHOR: Alexandra Hill, PT, DPT, WCS, CLT, is a board-certified women’s health physical therapist at Duke Medicine, Department of Physical & Occupational Therapy, in the Brier Creek Clinic. She is incoming SOWH director of financial development in February 2017.

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