Chapman Students Get “Bit” by the Pelvic Floor Bug

DPT course Chapman University Pelvic Floor Class

by Dr. Julie Sarton, PT, DPT, WCS

Educating the Next Generation

What They Learned

Alongside Dr. Sherine Aubert, PT, DPT, PRPC, I had the privilege of introducing pelvic floor physical therapy in its most basic form to the Doctor of Physical Therapy students at Chapman University. The class included an overview of pelvic floor physical therapy, a niche which actually includes eight other sub-niches in itself.

We wanted each student to walk out of this class feeling comfortable in a general clinic to screen for pelvic floor dysfunction. Many times, a lot of patients in orthopedic clinics who actually have some form of pelvic dysfunction are missed.

We wanted them to be able to not only ask the right questions, but also to be able to do a quick, external evaluation that would either confirm or deny whether they need pelvic floor physical therapy.

Plus, we wanted them to know how to conduct internal exams, or realize that they need to refer these patients to pelvic floor physicals therapists if they don’t feel equipped to do an internal exam themselves.

They learned about hypotonic pelvic floor presentation, which includes diagnoses like pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence. They dove into hypertonic pelvic floor presentation, which includes all the pain diagnoses. We uncovered vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, pudendal neuralgia and coccydynia. Additionally, we examined pre- and postpartum issues, as well as how to look at coccyx pain from an orthopedic standpoint. 

The Final Exam

This was the coolest thing to witness! For the final exam, we simulated a real, previous patient case. I took a true patient that I have seen before at my clinic, provided them with the patient history, and their challenge was to come up with what they would do for three evaluation techniques as well as three treatment techniques.

When it came time for final presentations, I was blown away. They did phenomenally. Blew it out of the water! One of the students was so inspired by pelvic floor work that she actually just did a powerpoint presentation for faculty and other students who didn’t take this elective so she could share about pelvic floor physical therapy. Her presentation dissected the question, “How do I recognize the classic signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction if I’m in a general, orthopedic clinic?” We were so proud! She did it all on her own.

Students Get “Bit”

My favorite part about teaching is being this conduit to the next generation. My generation did not get any of this sort of training or education in graduate school.

The experience we’ve garnered up to this point was all due to independent post-graduate learning that we had to do on our own. I feel so excited to be part of the change to create a new standard in our doctorate programs. Pelvic floor topics should be part of the curriculum, just like geriatrics, pediatrics, orthopedics, urology and the like. 

Chapman has been one of the first schools out there to really integrate pelvic floor courses routinely, year after year, as an elective course. It’s really fun to be on the forefront of that, to really see it. I myself struggled not getting this information for a good 15 years. It just hadn’t been integrated into the curriculum of our graduate programs!

Imagine the impact of making this information more available to students getting into this field early on.

One of the absolute best parts has to be seeing them get “bit by the bug” of wanting to make a difference, as this is a field in need of serious attention. To see them run with the new information, and leveraging it into this movement, is something I’ll be able to carry with me into future courses and my own career as well.

We want to encourage you to get evaluated by one of our outstanding physical therapists, and regain control of your life. Pelvic pain, pelvic floor dysfunction, back pain, tailbone pain—you name it—these conditions do not have to control your life. There is hope. Call us today to book an appointment for 1 of our 3 Southern California locations, or inquire about a virtual, online treatment session.

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Sarton Physical Therapy and its affiliates recommend that you contact your physician before participating in any physical therapy, exercise or fitness related programs. Learn More.