Written by Angela Silva, DPT
At the age of 17, I was diagnosed with a congenital uterine anomaly leading to a long and winding path involving various medical practitioners, testing procedures, and surgeries in order to gain control over my own reproductive health. This on-going experience has provided me with a unique understanding of women’s health and pelvic floor issues as well as their effects on the physical and psychological well-being of those who experience them. Moreover, embarking on my own reproductive health journey at such a young age has taught me how any healthcare provider can have a deep and lasting impact on her patients’ perceptions of themselves, their gender roles, and their sexuality – whether that impact be positive or negative.
Since the time that my own experiences initially piqued my interest in pelvic floor physical therapy, I have further immersed myself in the field through engaging with the current body of literature and seeking out a 12-week pelvic floor clinical experience. During this clinical, I saw first-hand the multi-faceted and debilitating nature of the effects of pelvic floor dysfunction as well as the many barriers that prevent men and women from seeking help for these sensitive issues. Nevertheless, I also witnessed the great empowerment that these patients experience when their concerns are finally validated and treated with dignity and they began to overcome their pelvic floor diagnoses.
My personal experiences in the realm of women’s health have nurtured a passion for sensitive health issues and patient education that I will incorporate into my own practice. It is only through teaching our patients about the anatomy and physiology behind their disorders and dysfunction while providing them with the tools to manage them that we can empower patients to take control of their diagnoses and make seemingly large, overwhelming issues conquerable. This is of particular importance in the field of pelvic floor physical therapy where topics that were traditionally brushed aside or spoken of with embarrassment are dealt with head-on. I am proud of our profession’s developments in the field of women’s health and pelvic floor therapy and I look forward to participating in its continued growth throughout my fast-approaching career as a physical therapist.
Since becoming a member of the Section on Women’s Health in late May, I have taken advantage of a variety of learning opportunities including accessing the Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy as well as participating in on-going research opportunities and accessing resources available on the Section on Women’s Health website. I look forward to increasing my level of participation in the future by taking continuing education courses, contributing to the body of research, and attending section events.
Angela Silva, DPT, is the scholarship recipient of the Pelvic Health physical Therapy Level 1 in Novi, Michigan June 8-10, 2018. This scholarship is funded by Section on Women’s Health-APTA and was established to recognize outstanding full-time students enrolled in a physical therapy program. Angela has recently graduated from Brenau University in Gainesville, Georgia, and is going to join 30 other PTs and SPTs in this weekend’s course to further her education and skills in pelvic floor physical therapy.