Several conversations I have had, and articles I have read lately have inspired more thought to the treatment of male pelvic floor (or pelvic diaphragm) impairments and the need for more male pelvic health physical therapists.
Let me reference the first - Treatment of male pelvic floor dysfunction (by a female physical therapist). I have been given the opportunity to initiate a pelvic health program and with that, mentor physical therapists interested in developing skills in this area. In these conversations I have realized how great of an emphasis I place on appropriate communication and recognizing levels of comfort discussing varying pelvic floor impairments.
One of the most important skills to develop with treatment of pelvic floor impairments is the ability to discuss very sensitive issues in a professional and confident manner with your patient. It can already be a challenge discussing certain topics with the same gender, but when it becomes a discussion between male and female, things somehow become much more difficult to say out loud. There may even be a point when some of us question whether our values and/or religious views will be compromised by discussion of certain impairments and goals, or performance of an internal examination. For a new grad or an experienced PT developing skills in this area, I feel that these are some of the greatest barriers to address and overcome. We must carefully evaluate our ability to be committed to providing this care to all shapes and sizes of pelvic floor dysfunction and recognize limitations. However, I will follow that with the fact that we are highly skilled healthcare professionals who possess the unique skills required to change the lives of those experiencing the many forms of pelvic floor impairments. We need to be careful to avoid being shy with our knowledge because who will provide this specialized care and help our communities if we don't?
Next up – the call for male pelvic health physical therapists. Regarding this topic, I think these two articles say it best. Through the eyes and mouth of one of my favorite pelvic health physical therapists (part one), and the written experience of attending pelvic health level 1 as a male physical therapy student (part two).
I think the core of the post is driven by the importance of self-reflection and gut-checks. Being honest with ourselves about where our passion and goals are leading us, setting aside fear and confidently accepting that path.
It's go time!
Lacey graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in 2010 with a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. She then moved back to her roots in Texas to practice in outpatient physical therapy. In 2011, she accepted a position to facilitate the development of a women's health program, which is where her passion lies. She seeks opportunities to educate the community and other healthcare providers on the availability and importance of pelvic rehabilitation and women's health physical therapy. Check her out at: LinkedIn and Twitter.