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A week in the life of...a women's health physiotherapist
Published on 07 March 2017 by Sarah Marsh, updated on 02 May 2017
I love my job. I love that I am able to help women who may have had problems and concerns for some time, and that with physiotherapy many of them will feel better and have relief from their symptoms. I also love that no week is ever the same!
I see an average of 8 new patients a week and the rest of my time is spent with existing patients, teaching and presenting on health and wellbeing.
Once I get to the clinic I review the new patient assessment forms to give me an idea of what to expect that week. I spend an hour with new patients so there is time to really understand their issues and concerns. I then review my follow up patients for that week, schedule any calls/emails to consultants and GP’s and check my diary is up to date.
For many of the new mums I see this is the first chance they have time to talk about their birth experience and how they are doing, not just about their little one. We talk about their sleep and energy levels, what food they’re eating to help heal and repair, their support networks at home – partner, family, friends. We discuss if they have pain or discomfort in their pelvic area, what’s normal and to be expected and how much time our bodies need to heal. I then perform a full assessment: checking standing, sitting and lying posture – looking at how my patient is moving and her muscle control. I will also check her tummy, her rectus diastasis - tummy gap, and how she breathes. If it’s appropriate I perform an internal examination to check the pelvic floor. We agree a realistic plan together that will help her get back to all of her normal activities and look after her little one.
A lot of my time is spent talking about ‘time’. The time it takes to heal and repair; it takes 9 months to be ready to give birth and despite media, social and cultural pressure it takes more than 6 weeks to be back to ‘normal’.
I see around 15 follow ups patients each week. As well as seeing new mums I also see patients with pelvic or chronic pain. Some have incontinence issues, especially with exercising. My approach is to work holistically with patients – looking at their lifestyle, work, family as well as exercise and activity. Being in pain is a huge stress on our nervous systems so we work on relaxing and breathing. It is such a great feeling when a patient who came to you worried that her pain would never go, comes back to tell you her symptoms have resolved.
I teach yoga classes twice a week and consult with other teachers on how to work safely with their pre and post-natal students. I am endlessly fascinated by how different we all are – what works for one of us doesn’t necessarily work for everyone.
This was an unusual and exciting week as I was off to teach in Istanbul! Teaching women’s health physio’s how to use yoga clinically and therapeutically with their patients. I know lucky me! My time between seeing patients was spent finalising my slides, practising my presentation and learning how to say inhale and exhale in Turkish. A quick check of the weather forecast whilst packing tells me it will be 17 degrees and sunny – definitely lucky me!
To book an appointment with Sarah, please just give us a call.
By Sarah Marsh, Specialist Women's Health Physiotherapist