Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Recently Kate Baughman, a Physical Therapist at Coastal Ortho in Brunswick, ME, took some time to describe the importance of her work with patients who have pelvic floor dysfunction.

“In regards to the pelvic floor and it’s treatment in Physical Therapy, it’s always been on my mind. Over the past year, and doing more work with truly functional breathing, it became clear we were leaving out that part of the body, so I began to research this topic.”

“The diaphragm and pelvis work in conjunction with each other , so if you think of the wholetrunk as a cylinder with spinal muscles in the back and abdominals in the front and sides, plus the diaphragm at the ribs and the pelvic floor on the bottom, they work to piston the pressure. As we inhale, the diaphragm lowers, all the organs move out of the way of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor descends a little bit to accept those organs. As you exhale the reverse happens, and the diaphragm lifts, as well as the pelvic floor muscles. There’s constant equal pressure as the breath “pistons” these functions through the trunk, unless there is a dysfunction, which occurs more frequently than most people are aware of, and our job as PT’s is to correct this dysfunction.”

“The pelvis floor, in the normal situation, works reflexively, so that they happen almost at the same time. As soon as the diaphragm contracts to take a breath the pelvic floor is ready to except those organs leading to a spontaneous recoil as we exhale.”

“Many hip muscles are part of the pelvic floor and with a dysfunction, some may forget how to turn off, some may forget how to contract when needed, such as in walking or lifting activities. Additionally, all the muscles could stay on nonproductively, or all stay off, and they need to bere-educated in how to contract properly again.”

“A lot of times, especially after injury or childbirth or abdominal surgery, one loses sensation and awareness of these muscles. The Kegel exercise, for example, is important to create an awareness between the brain and the muscles so both are aware as the brain begins to automatically use those muscles again functionally, instead of doing hundreds of exercises a day without benefit.”

Kate is currently accepting patients with pelvic floor issues to receive education and treatment for a more functional lifestyle. Contact her at 207-442-0325 with any questions and to schedule an evaluation.

Kate Baughman lives in Harpswell with her family and has been a Physical Therapist since2010.