#PTonICE Daily Show – Monday, July 10th, 2023 – Gaps in pelvic health research

In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, #ICEPelvic faculty member Christina Prevett discusses current gaps in pelvic floor physical therapy research. Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes.

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00:00 INTRO
What’s up everybody, we are back with another episode of the PT on Ice Daily Show. Before we jump in, let’s chat about Jane for a moment as they are our sure sponsor and they make this thing possible. The team at Jane understands that payment processing can be complex, so they built in an integrated payment solution called Jane Payments to help make things as simple as possible so you can get paid. If you’re looking for an easy way to navigate payments, here’s what we recommend. Head over to jane.app slash payments, book a one on one demo with a member of Jane support team. This can give you a better sense of how Jane Payments can integrate with your practice several other popular features that Jane Payments supports like memberships with the option to automatically invoice and process your membership payments online. If you know you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for Jane and make sure when you do, you use the code ICEPT1MO as that gives you a one month grace period while you settle in. Once you’re in your new Jane account, you can flip the switch for Jane Payments at any time. Let the Jane team know if you need a hand with anything, they offer unlimited support and are always happy to jump in. Thanks, everybody. Enjoy today’s PT on ICE Daily Show.

 Hello, everyone, and welcome to the PT on ICE Daily Show. My name is Christina Prevett. I am one of the lead faculty within our pelvic division. I’m so excited to be on the podcast. I feel like it’s been a hot minute since I have been on here because our other faculty have been doing such an amazing job sharing content with you. If you’re looking to get started and join us within the pelvic health division, we have our eight week online course starting today. So eight weeks going from preconception all the way to postpartum return to sport. We’re going to spend a ton of time going through different concepts, research, all that fun stuff and then you get to hang out with us for the next eight weeks. So if you’re interested, make sure you go to PT on ICE.com and you should sign up while you’re there for our pelvic newsletter. So we’re going to be talking about research today. That is where we send out new research articles that the faculty sees and we have a pretty big announcement coming into the newsletter. So if you are not on the pelvic newsletter, you should go to the resources page on PT on ICE.com and join because there’s fun stuff happening over there. All right. So today we’re going to be talking about gaps in pelvic health research. We have done an incredible job over the last several years of starting to fill in gaps in our knowledge. And part of the reason why we do not have as much research in some of these areas is because the rise in popularity of some of these movements or these exercise trends has really changed over the last five to 10 years. And research takes time. It’s important for us to know where the state of the research is so that we know how much confidence we can give to our recommendations and assessments. When it comes to evidence informed care, it is three pronged, right? We have our evidence base, what research says. We have our clinical expertise and we have our patients or clients lived experiences and their hopes and desires. And when we don’t have the evidence base, we rely on the other two. However, there is bias that gets introduced there. There’s bias that gets introduced in research as well. But I think it’s important for us to know what we can confidently say from a research perspective and what we can’t. So today I’m going to go through five big gaps that I have seen in the pelvic health research. If you are interested in doing a PhD from somebody who is about to defend their PhD at the end of the month, here’s great topic areas because our research base is really small or completely non-existent. And the completely non-existent one that I’m going to start at the very beginning because it actually blows my mind is on C-section scar massage. Scar massage after a C-section is the gold standard for helping with the rehab process. It creates more movement and motility. It allows us to get into more stretched positions. Some individuals have seen potentially some association between adherence and scar tissue and low back pain. Alexis did a podcast episode on a case study with that. But we have no research in any type that has looked at C-section scar massage. And that blows my mind because we are so confidently talk about using C-section scar massage. And it’s because clinically and with our patients right there lived experience, we see such a huge benefit. Because we don’t have any research, why? We can’t even say is this effective or not. But the second thing is that we have no idea around dosage. Do you need to start at six weeks? Can you start at six months? Is it the same effectiveness? Should you be doing two minutes or five minutes? We don’t have any research that is looking at what is the most effective dosage or does this work at all or is it a placebo because we’re starting to desensitize our body to that surgical site. We don’t really know. And so it’s really neat to see and really important for us to recognize that there is a huge gap there that should be getting filled. All right. The second one that we see a complete lack of research in and this became really relevant with some of our athletes is around coning during pregnancy and its impact postpartum. Really confidently people say online that you should avoid doming and coning during pregnancy within our pelvic health division. We do not create fear around doming or coning. We try to minimize it as much as possible by getting recruitment from other core muscles because we think that is going to keep the pregnant core stronger, not because we are trying to mitigate damage, not because we are trying not to ruin anything, not because we are trying to prevent diastasis recti postpartum. But we know, pardon me, that when we reduce that coning that usually that also means that individuals are stronger. Unfortunately the prevailing messaging online is that if you cone during your pregnancy, you’re going to have diastasis recti postpartum. And we don’t have research either way about that narrative despite how confident people are saying that. What we do have research for is that individuals with postpartum diastasis recti are weaker than those that aren’t. And so by scaring individuals around avoiding coning during pregnancy, we may be unknowingly or unintentionally deconditioning that pregnant person and their core. And so we need to be doing research on this about, you know, what if we don’t do any modifications to their core training? What is that going to do for them postpartum? You know, when I think about a late term pregnancy, that stretching of the linea alba, when a rectus contracts, it comes together and there’s going to be almost like an air pocket that occurs because of that lengthening of that tissue. In my mind, like that, especially a little bit of that is not something that I see as quote unquote bad. But I know that I am not not everybody agrees with that narrative. So we just need to be sure that we’re doing more research on this. So that’s number two. Number one, C-section scar massage. Number two, avoiding coning during pregnancy and its influence on postpartum outcomes. Number three is any postpartum protocols for return to activity. We have maybe the beginning of research in the running space. And largely in the running space, it’s helpful because a lot of people enjoy the sport of running. It’s an easy barrier. There’s no barrier to entry in terms of just putting on running shoes and going on to the pavement or onto the trail. And so we’re starting to see more and more research. But when we’re trying to look at things like risk factors for issues with postpartum return to running, we’re seeing a huge amount of variability. And that is where us and the pelvic PT space and us in the PT space in general are like well done because everyone is going to have different experiences, different support systems. All of those other factors are going to influence. And so we see some people are waiting a full 12 weeks before they go back to running. We have other individuals like our elite level athletes who are starting with four to six weeks and are back to 80 percent of their running volume by 14 weeks plus or minus 11 weeks at standard deviation. So a huge swing in terms of how long they are going back or how long they are waiting before going back. And so we need to try and look at some of this early return to activity and try to figure out different protocols to try and minimize risk for not only pelvic health concerns, but we’re seeing also a larger risk for musculoskeletal injuries. And so we’re seeing individuals returning to postpartum impact, which is running and are having lower extremity issues. So we have so much work to do. And then when it comes to the resistance training space, oh my goodness, we have literally nothing. In the cross-sectional study that I designed with our collaborators, we tried to give some descriptive data of when individuals are returning. But again, that is just scratching the surface of what is possible or what we may be seeing in this space. So number three is any postpartum protocols for return to activity. Anything that people are utilizing now is based on physiology theory and clinical experience. We don’t really have anything in the research right now to identify those things. All right. Number four is information on pelvic outcomes with interpregnancy windows. And this may seem a little bit off to right field from me, but hear me out. So when we think about family planning, individuals kind of have often an idea of how close together they want their pregnancies to be, what sometimes these pregnancies are a surprise. Sometimes there are things outside of our control that leads to when individuals are having pregnancies. What we do tend to see in the literature where we do have research is on fetal outcomes. And we always kind of start on fetal outcomes where risks to baby increase when a person has a subsequent pregnancy less than six months after delivery versus those that wait 18 months. What we see clinically is that sometimes rates of pelvic floor issues and diastasis recti can follow that same trend where when individuals get pregnant really close together, they didn’t have that window of time where they were able to recover their pelvic floor and their core strength back. And therefore they have potentially a harder time recovering after a subsequent pregnancy. Some of these fetal outcomes like increased risk for miscarriage and stillborn birth that can happen in those close interpregnancy windows may be a result of things like pelvic floor insufficiency or just not getting the strength back in those structures in the pelvis between pregnancies. And so we don’t have any research on this, but as a faculty, we are super interested to see is it the interpregnancy window or is it the amount of time it takes individuals to get back at least close to baseline with respect to core strength and pelvic floor strength after baby. And so information around interpregnancy windows with respect to mom’s outcomes, I think are super important. So number one, C-section scar massage. Number two, postpartum or coding during pregnancy. Three postpartum return activity and four information on interpregnancy windows. My last one and I left it for last because this is like where my research brain is right now is on lifting during pregnancy and appropriately dose resistance training. So if you guys have been following the podcast or you follow me online, you know that I was projects that looked at cross-sectional data on individuals who lifted heavy during pregnancy, over 80% of their one rep max at least at some point. And we tried to describe individuals experiences, what their labor and delivery looked like and what some postpartum issues or complications may have been. Now right now I am working on a project that is a systematic review on what we know from resistance training and pregnancy literature. So I am doing a complete scour on the research that is looking at what the dosage, what outcomes individuals are looking at and trying to make some, see some gaps in the research and make some informed decisions. Y’all, what we have so far is all exercises in sitting one to two kilos max weights. So five pounds max, we have fair band exercises and these are what we are using to make decisions. Overwhelmingly the outcomes are related to the fetus, right? So we are looking at and that is super important. Do not get me wrong. That is super important. But I think at this point we can say especially under dose resistance training is not going to be bad for baby. That is where the gross majority of our research exists. We have nothing that is heavier really than a person’s purse that they use to walk in here and it gave me an unbelievable understanding of where our conservative under dose recommendations come from because all of our research was on therapy and exercises, stuff done in sitting, pelvic tilt and abdominal breathing was a protocol for resistance training. When is breathing resistance training? But that’s the state of our research right now. And so we get upset about the fact that these are recommendations and yet there’s this huge gap that we are seeing in the literature that does not have anything. And so because pregnancy is such a protected time, we don’t want to make recommendations that we don’t really have anything to base off of. And so we have so much work to do. And so here are my five, right? We have C-section scar massage, coning during pregnancy and postpartum diastasis outcomes, any type of postpartum protocol for return to activity, especially in the lifting high intensity space, information on pelvic floor outcomes and core outcomes for interpregnancy windows and the influence on pelvic floor dysfunction. And then my personal, like one that I am spending a lot of time on is around lifting and appropriately dosed RT during pregnancy. Like you all know that I am in the geriatric faculty as well and it’s like just as bad, if not a little bit worse with respect to some of the RT dosage that I’m seeing in this space based on, or as compared to systematic reviews that I’ve done in community dwelling older adults that are struggling with mobility. And so that is saying something. And it just shows that we have so much work to do. And so I want to kind of finish off this podcast. I’m going a little bit long winded and I knew that I would talk to you about research is that we have work to do, right? We need to one show that these are things that individuals are interested in. We need to try and help inform practice. And then we need to be patient. You know, there are researchers that are working on this. I was at female athlete conference in Boston and I saw and got to connect with so many PT PhDs and other medical providers who were doing research that were trying to bridge some of these gaps for individuals who love exercise at any capacity, at any stage, at any level. It just it takes time. You know, where I’m getting ready to hopefully ramp up for perspective data, which means that I’m going to follow people through their pregnancy. But a pregnancy is 10 months and it takes time to recruit people and it takes time to go through ethics. And then we got to do all the analysis and then we have to write the research paper up and then it has to go through peer review. And that takes time as well. And so we are getting there. This is my I am so excited. If you want to do a PhD and jump into this army of trying to create research, I am here for it. And hopefully we are going to continue to see individuals pushing into this space and we’re going to be able to close some of these gaps. All right. That’s all I got for you today. If you are interested in learning more or you want to talk about PhDs and all those types of things and doing research, make sure you reach out. I did an entire thread in our ICE students group. So if you have taken an ICE course and you were in that Facebook group, I talked about doing research and I hope you all have a wonderful Monday and I will actually see you on Wednesday for the geriatric podcast. All right. I will talk to you all soon. Have a great day.

19:00 OUTRO
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