In our weekly feature section, Pelvic Rehab Report is proud to present this interview with Herman & Wallace instructor Tina Allen, PT, BCB-PMD, PRPC
How did you get started in pelvic rehab?
I was about 5 years into my career as a PT when for some reason I had patients who where comfortable with me enough to ask questions like, "I'm leaking. Is that normal after giving birth?", "Since my total hip replacement I've been leaking urine" and "I have pain sometimes when I'm have sex...is that normal?". I was working in Outpatient Orthopaedics and I had no idea if it was normal. I searched and found out that it wasn't. After whispering to my patients that it wasn't normal, that I read that there where things they could do about it and then slipping them pieces of paper with instructions on how to maybe make it better; I decided I should learn if there was something a PT could do to help. I spent time with Ob/Gyn's and Urologists learning from them and applying my musculoskelatal knowledge to what they taught me. I was still in denial that I could help folks but then I started getting patients specifically referred to me for these conditions. I finally found that there where classes I could take! Imagine! That was 20 years ago now!
Who or what inspired you?
My patients have always been who inspires me! The questions they ask and how they face what they are going through has always pushed me to figure out ways to help them along their paths to healing and improved function!
I must also include all the PT's whom take our courses. Watching everyone lean into the uncomfortableness of what we teach and the questions everyone asks all in the hopes of helping that client whom walks into the clinic on Monday is inspiring.
What have you found most rewarding in treating this patient population?
It has to be that first session with a patient whom when you educate them on anatomy and function of the urogynecolgical system including fascia and what is needed for function (intimacy, continence etc) and I can see the light bulb go off for them on how everything is connected and everything has to be treated as a whole.
What do you find more rewarding about teaching?
This has to be the inspiration I get a thrill from being with a room of Pelvic Rehab therapists. We all work behind closed doors all day and getting to be in a room with such amazing like-minded therapists gives me a shot in the arm. To watch us all click in and problem solve how to serve our population of clients is inspiring for me.
How did you get started teaching pelvic rehab?
I was lab assisting courses for Kathe and Holly for years. Then one year Holly Herman just kept saying to me, "Why aren't you teaching?" "You could teach this?" "Tina, why don't you take this lecture?" "Tina, how many patients do you see like this in a day? What would you do?" I almost starting avoiding her Then I talked to Kathe about teaching and she said she was just waiting for me to say I was ready to start. That's our founders; always encouraging us to do more and contribute more!
What was it like the first time you taught a course to a group of therapists?
The first time I taught was terrifying! I'm a bonafide introvert (have multiple personalty tests to prove it) and standing in front of 40+ folks talking was not my idea of a fun way to spend a weekend. After the first lecture or two I found a rhythm and relaxed into it. By the afternoon or maybe the next day I was very excited to be around so many clinicians interested in learning and treating Pelvic Rehab.
What have you learned over the years that has been most valuable to you?
That my clients journey is their journey and I get to be a part of it. It's a privilege but it is still their journey. My hope is that where ever they meet me along their path I can assist them to their next step. As long as I get out the way that can happen.
What is your favorite topic about which you teach?
My favorite part of every course are the lab sessions. Getting to teach at each table in small groups and helping clinicians refine their observation and palpation skills is what makes me happy!