In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, #ICEPelvic division leader Christina Prevett discusses her journey to becoming a pelvic floor PT.
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Everyone and welcome to the PT on ICE daily show My name is Christina Prevett and I am one of the lead faculty within our pelvic health division Today I want to talk a little bit about kind of my journey in to pelvic PT and the reason why I want to do that is because when I first started in pelvic I was actually really adamant that I was never going to be a pelvic PT. It was not something that I wanted. It was not something that I wanted to do. And I want to talk to you a little bit about why I think that’s important and where we have seen a shift in pelvic PT that I think is super beneficial. So you all haven’t seen me on the podcast now for a while. You know that my start and my love is working in geriatrics, right? My PhD was in geriatrics. My business model was very focused on, with Stavoff, on healthy aging. I did a lot of bridge programming between one-on-one rehab and group fitness wellness for individuals with complexities with the idea of removing barriers to exercise, and optimizing as many facilitators as possible in kind of a medically supervised but not medically necessary type of way. And part of my PhD was really trying to get into this health and wellness space. And you know that fits the bias at ICE really beautifully because we truly believe in preventative healthcare versus our sick care system that we currently have. And part of that was to do a scoping review around where physical therapists could be involved in health and wellness. And I meant that as a primary and secondary prevention aim. So not once disease has already been established, but what to think about this bridge, identifying risk factors to potential issues, or to really think about population level health. And of course, there was a lot of things in the literature that lit up around, you know, chronic Z self-management and working and isolating at risk factors like blood pressure. But one of the other things that came up and came up really strongly in the evidence base was around perinatal care. And so a lot of people go into pelvic PT around their own experiences, and that was actually not the case for me. And so I had applied for a city grant. I was like, well, if this is where we are going and we want to take a lifespan approach, then let’s try and get involved in exercise in the perinatal space. And so we applied for a grant, we were able to get grant funding, and we started a program called Strong Like Mom. it was a new area for me you know i did my research on like exercise this is a lot of postpartum exercise in canada we have a year of maternity leave so a lot of moms in the first year would bring their babies in it was really great i was kind of in a period of my life where my husband and i were talking about having kids so i got exposure to other moms and their experiences i got to talk through different pelvic health complaints. And from an external perspective, I was able to help manage a lot of those conditions. But I was not internally trained. And this was back 2018, 2019. And I was still adamant that I was not going to be internally trained. And here’s why. I had this belief that I had to be a Volvo Cupcake type of person. And this is absolutely no, no negativity at those who go into pelvic and love it so much that they buy a costume where their head is the clitoris. Like we need those people because they reach individuals in such a unique way. But that was the way that I had interpreted going into pelvic. So I had my exercise class. I was talking about pelvic health issues. But I really truly thought that as soon as I became a pelvic PT, all I did was internal assessments. I stayed in the room with people in supine and I stopped getting an orthopedic caseload because everybody that I talked to, their entire caseload turned into pelvic. And I loved working with older adults. I loved working orthopedically. I saw a lot of people with complexities and multimorbidity. I loved that part of my job. And I did not want that to go away from me. And so in 2018, so I must’ve started this program in 2017. So we’re talking some years now. In 2018, I was a national level weightlifter and I got pregnant with my daughter. And we got pregnant faster than we thought we were going to, which is such a blessing. But I was prepping for a weightlifting meet, trying to qualify for nationals again for 2019. And I already had the meat. I was like well into my prep. And so I was like, you know, I’m not worried about weight. I’m well off my weight category. I’m still gonna compete. And I remember the first time I went to snatch heavy and I made contact at my hip, I started to cry. And I knew that exercise was not bad. I had well gone into the literature with me being a PhD student around exercise and pregnancy, but the visceral, fear response and the thought that everything in my brain had said, I need to protect was real. And I was lucky. We had a referral network with individuals. We were working in a research program with a high-risk fetal medicine physician and obstetrician. And we were doing referrals back and forth for individuals with cardiovascular risk. That’s a whole other conversation for another day. But in that moment, I reached out to him and I said, Hey, like I’m a weightlifter. And I sent him a video of a snatch. I was like, I’m prepping for a meet. What are your thoughts?” And his messaging was so clear. He said, that baby’s so small, it is back in your pelvis, and your body is used to this. It’s okay, you are going to be fine. And my fear melted. It melted. And I will never, never not be grateful for that interaction. And in that moment, I recognized one, how much fear we can have around pregnancy because it’s so protected. But number two, how much that fear can be melted away by somebody in the obstetrical space that you trust, that allows that fear to extinguish. And so, This was all kind of happening. Again, I wasn’t doing internal PT, but I started to feel this like gut pull to this space. But I still had this like interaction where I just did not want to do only internal assessments. This is kind of the origin story of pelvic. And so I was still not coming to terms with this, but I really wanted to start bridging towards this fitness. I had been doing Strong Like Mom for a couple of years. I was a national-level weightlifter on Instagram and social media. I was getting comments about my body prolapsing and all these things that were so fear-focused, and it started to just gut me that it was so fear-invoking. and I was going and I was interacting with other pelvic BTs, they were the ones who were making me afraid because they were the ones telling me that I was going to prolapse. They were the ones who were saying, and this is not against them because that is truly what we believed and what we were taught in our training. We have come so far to move away from that narrative, but that was where the narrative was in 2018. My staff member who was an internal trained PT and I went to fitness athlete and being in this space, we kind of took over a little bit, sorry guys. In this live course, talking about things like diastasis recti and talking about how to load the core and it very naturally for me became this teaching moment. And this was in 2018, 2019. And in that moment, because Alan was there, he was like, this needs to happen. This needs to happen. And even then. When I started teaching, I was like, I do so much externally. I’ve seen such great results. I know there’s a referral network if I need it for looking at these interactions, but I’m not, I’m still resisting against it. So I was there and we have so much evidence around telemedicine. And it was just, it was still, I was still doing everything externally. And I was like, I’m not going to bridge that gap. And so you’re probably wondering where it switched. It switched when I realized that I could do pelvic PT my way. I did not have to be a person who loved looking at vulvas on cupcakes in order to be unbelievably passionate about removing barriers to exercise. You have heard me say that very quickly, when people start interacting with the healthcare system, they start to be afraid. in females or peoples with uteruses where their fear often can start is in pregnancy because they want to protect and our medical system is designed to look for what is wrong and try and mitigate those risks. And I recognize that in order to be a frontline person, to be able to mitigate that messaging, the internal PT part was necessary. And so in 2019, I went back and started doing some internal training and the training was fantastic. I loved it, but it taught me the assessment. I spent a lot of time on the assessment and I was so thankful that my external training and just figuring out my own caseload over several years had allowed me to know the intervention side of things. And they had to marry. And so our online course is very focused on external techniques. That was where my expertise was. I started blending that with my internal techniques. And I realized that the internal assessment is a tool in our toolbox. It is not our profession. It is not our profession. And as I have started to interact and build more experience and all these types of things in this space, in tandem with some of the research side of things, I so sparingly use the internal assessment outside of often times if we’re working with individuals with pain. But it is not who pelvic PT is. And when I removed that expectation, yeah, 100% this, when I removed that expectation that that is what my job was, that is what defined me as a pelvic PT, I became very free to explore this beautiful area of our profession. And I blend my orthopedic knowledge all the time. I use the information from the internal assessment to provide education. And as we were doing this, and as Alexis was coming into our division and all these things were happening, I realized that our online course would not be enough. It would not be enough because we had to be able to bridge from lying in supine to fitness. We were having this disconnect where we had exercise professionals who felt very good about being able to have all of these movements and interact with these different conditions. And then we have these pelvic PTs who are very good at the assessment aspect. But going from that assessment and early foundational graded exposure to getting individuals running and playing and expressing joy with different planes of movement and different unexpected changes in their body’s positions, we had a disconnect there. And so our life course started to really take form in 2020. And I know that people may think that while we do it really differently in our pelvic course, than others and the reason why it’s so different is that yes we teach the foundations of the internal but we teach it in the morning of the first day because it is a tool in our toolbox. It is not an entire entry-level course in our perspective. And so we teach it in Supine, and then we bridge that to standing because how are we going to figure out where people are leaking? Yes, Supine gives us tons of information, It allows us to get some orientation, and then we go into the standing assessment, and from there we bridge. And we spend the rest of the weekend bridging, because that is where our profession needs to go. Just like you were saying, we need to use the internal. It is an absolutely pivotal skill, but we need to do that and bridge to fitness, and we are not just pelvic PTs. We are pelvic orthopedic PTs that blend everything that we know within our medical training in order to drive a fitness forward message. And so now I am loud and proud that I am an internally trained pelvic PT and I leverage it in my practice every single week. I’m a part-time practicing clinician right now because of my research. and it gives me so much insight. My patients do amazing, but it’s not because of my fingers and their vulva. It is because it is the basis of which we build our foundations, just like I’m not going to just do Kegels, right? I’m going to teach the coordination of the pelvic floor to bridge to function. That is the same thing that we are doing in this fitness forward pelvic PT approach. It is why I hope that when I share my story, that somebody resonates with it. Somebody who has hesitated and said, I do not want this to be who I become. And I hope it gives you freedom, that it gives you this unbelievable understanding of the bottom of the core canister. So if you are interacting with someone who has hip pain or back pain or abdominal pain, you are interacting with it. You are interacting with the pelvic floor. And it will give you this idea that the training is not going to put you into this pigeonhole that you cannot get out of. All right, that is end for me. If you are interested in figuring out our internal assessment, we have so many live courses coming up over the beginning of 2024. I’m gonna be in Raleigh, North Carolina. We only have three spots left for that course. This weekend, end of the month, Alexis is doing a course in Hendersonville. And then beginning of February, I am going to be in Bellingham, Washington. doing all things pelvic PT. So if you are interested, let us know. Otherwise, have a really wonderful start to your week and we will talk to you all soon.
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