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May 08, 2023

Rock Valley, North Liberty’s Davis, there to assist those struggling with pelvic floor disorders

If there was a mountain anywhere close, Solon, Iowa’s Rebecca Richeal, would stand atop it and shout the virtues of pelvic health and the pelvic-floor work of Rock Valley Physical Therapy’s Brittney Davis.

 “I was better – and after only two sessions with Brittney –  had more control over my bladder,’’ said Richeal, mother to Ace, 4, and Lydia,17 months.

The ultra-positive, outgoing and upfront Richeal, is the owner and instructor of Fit4mom in Iowa City, Iowa, which is a fitness community supporting moms in every stage of motherhood. 

Davis, PT, DPT, Clinic Manager at Rock Valley’s North Liberty, Iowa-based clinic, treated Richeal for urinary incontinence, an issue that came to light after giving birth.

A treatment that has been life-changing for Richeal.

“In the past couple years I have taken up running as a hobby and form of fitness and have struggled with bladder control on certain types of runs,’’ Richeal said. “After going on a run and having issues running downhill, I finally made the call, literally right then. I stopped running and called and booked my first physical therapy session with Brittney.’’

Positive pelvic health is a vital and important piece to life’s overall puzzle for women and men.

The pelvic floor is the group of muscles that form a sling or hammock across the floor of the pelvis. Together with surrounding tissues, these muscles hold the pelvic organs in place so they can function correctly. 

Issues (pelvic floor disorders) can lead to a number of problems, including urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. PFDs are more prevalent among pregnant women, women who have had 3 or more vaginal births, or women in or past menopause, yet there are a wide-range of issues among men – of all ages – as well.  There is less research showing prevalence of male PFD. 

“I see/treat women and men,’’ said Davis, who earned her undergraduate degree from Central College (Pella, Iowa) in Exercise Science-Health Promotion with minors in Psychology and Spanish, and received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Des Moines University. 

“The most common issues I see are pregnancy, post-partum, dyspareunia (painful intercourse), and gut issues and pain due to adhesions. I see people at all stages of life. I have 4-and-5-year olds who struggle with potty training all the way to my more mature patients where menopause has brought up some new issues.’’

Davis says a number of factors can weaken one’s pelvic floor, but the key is to know Rock Valley Physical Therapy is there to help.

“Issues can begin at birth or later in life,’’ said Davis. “They can be with a specific event or happen over time. My main caseload is women. Incontinence is one that I work on a lot. I work with fecal and urinary incontinence. Urinary occurs often with postpartum or menopause, but can be at other times as well. For men, testicular pain has been a common diagnosis with younger, active patients. However, men too can have urinary or fecal leakage.’’

Trained in visceral mobilization (a hands-on treatment technique used to mobilize the organs), Davis says there are a number of ways she and other trained Rock Valley therapists can help with prevention and treatment, with females and males.

Like: potty training, dyspareunia, incontinence, bowel dysfunction, prolapse, pregnancy, post-partum, menopause, erectile dysfunction, pelvic pain, and abdominal adhesions

 Step one is a thorough evaluation.

“After a good history is taken we will look at general movement and strength. If it is advised and the patient agrees, we will do an internal assessment: vaginal or rectal,’’ Davis said, noting that post-surgery scar tissue can be an issue. “The purpose for this is to assess pelvic-floor tone, strength, relaxation, coordination, trigger points, adhesions, etc. Exercises will be based on what we find in our evaluation. For some, we may need to strengthen, for others we may need to coordinate, and others may need to relax. Each one could have urinary leakage, but the assessment is designed to make it specific to the individual. In physical therapy, you will be given exercises to help the process  and to give you ownership of your success. There will be manual therapy depending on what your needs.’’

Richeal says taking that step, making that call, has improved her life on several fronts. Because of that success, she shares the great work done by Davis and Rock Valley Physical Therapy at every turn.

“It sounds odd to say but after leaving my second session with Brittney, I sneezed and there was no consequence to it. I was so excited to sneeze without having any bladder issues after only two sessions,’’ Richeal said. “I typically go (for treatment) one day a week that I have childcare for Lydia. It’s supposed to be my day off, but the sessions go by pretty quick and with Brittney’s great schedule, I can go early in the morning and get it done and get on with my day. I recommend Rock Valley Pelvic Floor physical therapy to all my Fit4mom clients and anyone else that I hear has any pelvic floor issues.’’

By : Johnny Marx, Storyteller