Pelvic floor rehabilitation and physical therapy, that is, using exercise and conservative intervention to improve the function of the pelvic floor, is not a few concept. There are many countries in the world where this has been the first line of treatment for incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain, for quite a few years. In fact, the 2016 Olympics games in Rio saw the integration of its first pelvic floor Physiotherapy team to help with the athletes suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction! Fortunately, the integration of this type of intervention is slowly being adapted by more and more countries. Let’s take a look at the countries leading the charge:
France (and much of Europe)
In France, women’s are highly encouraged to book an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist or engage in a pelvic floor exercise program immediately after giving birth, even if they do not have any symptoms. Moreover, like many countries in Europe, this service is covered by the government, and therefore is provided at no cost to the new mother.
In the United Kingdom, if a woman reports any involuntary leakage at her 6 weeks postpartum followup, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends she be immediately referred to a women’s health physiotherapist. Like France, this service is covered by the government, The National Health Service, and therefore the new mom pays nothing for her intervention.
O Canada! In the bigger cities like Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, pelvic floor rehabilitation for incontinence and pelvic dysfunction has made a name for itself. Looking around in these cities, it is not uncommon to see dozens of clinics that specialise in the pelvic floor and only offer related services. Postpartum exercise programs focusing on kegaling, helping with Diastatis Recti, and engaging the core are common. The good news is spreading, but unfortunately, there are many women who continue to suffer in silence due to lack of awareness and misinformation. Slowly, we are seeing an increase of awareness in the more rural areas.
When reading the latest research on incontinence and the pelvic floor, you may notice a lot of it is coming out of Australia. We cannot forget to mention Australia when we talk about the evolution of this industry. Australia has been advocating and offering pelvic rehabilitation for years. In 2016, the Continence and Women’s Health group was renamed the The Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health group to be more inclusive of men and the several pelvic dysfunctions either group can face.
United States of America
Never to be left behind, The United States is hot on the tracks of the other countries. Though pelvic health physiotherapy (called physical therapy in America) was slower to get started, it is rapidly becoming more popular. The Academy of the American Physical Therapy Association is a professional community of almost 4000 Physical Therapists, Physical Therapist Assistants and Physical Therapy Students specializing in the pelvic health physical therapy field.