CURA Physical Therapies
City: Edmonton AB
Mary Wood’s name is synonymous with pelvic health in Canada. She is one of the trailblazer’s that has been practicing, leading, encouraging and developing her skills for 35 years. She is infinitely curious, generous to a fault with her time and skills, and a great friend to many people in the pelvic health community. I can think of few others who deserve this honour more than Mary. Thank you Mary for all that you have done, and continue to do.
How long have you been practicing pelvic health physiotherapy?
A long time! I have been a physiotherapist for 35 years and pelvic health physiotherapy has been part of my practice since 1994 when Claudia Brown taught us at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. At that time she was the only Canadian teaching pelvic health courses.
What lead you into the specialty of pelvic health?
My employer at the time, asked if I wanted to take Claudia ‘s course as our clinic was in a building of OBGYN’s and Urologists. My sister who challenged me to “walk the walk “on women’s health problems that I had said were not addressed adequately.
I had spent my career in ortho – doing all the levels , Part A etc but had often been led to working with more women- for example TMJ dysfunction and scoliosis.
I really had no idea I was about to be introduced to a specialty that would change my life! My first patients with PH conditions made me realize pelvic health was often the missing link in so many womens’ story ( at the time I did not consider men) and why they could not function or be “compliant” with my treatment recommendations.
What do you love most about your profession?
35 years and I honestly love being a physiotherapist. I love hearing how my patients lives have improved by something they were taught to do; they did it and it worked! I love that we are always learning! Initially my thirst for learning came from a place of fear and not feeling I knew enough (I see the same fear in many new grads today). After seeing the impact pelvic health had on patients, I shifted to being “infinitely curious” and wanting answers to many questions that the patient’s story evoked.
I love that I get to use so many “types” of treatment and the most powerful is connecting with the specific person and their needs. In pelvic health it is the collaboration of the patient and therapist that makes the biggest difference!
Which course did you enjoy the most/what course has changed your clinical practice the most?
That is so difficult to answer but “the” course was likely the Integrated Systems Model Series with Diane Lee and LJ Lee- that course taking place over a year gave me a structure for looking at the person as a whole. As well they gave me a structure to utilize the tools I’d gathered over the years so I could critically determine if the tool was useful for that specific person, their story and their tasks. The series challenged many assumptions I’d had about assessment and treatment and has given me a framework for all patients that is looking at function rather than just symptoms and pain.
Other people that had profound effects on me from years ago to now- John Oldham (“patients have to breathe or you will get nowhere”), Rhonda Kotarinos, Bernadette de Gasquet( thank you Anne Marie Fafard for making that possible), Debbie Patterson, Gail Wetzler and Annabelle McKenzie – the Barral Institute, Carolyn Vandyken( her first article changed so much), Cecile Rost, Lois Pohlod (K-taping).
What has been your most rewarding experience?
With patients it is hearing that they can do more in their lives. They feel better about themselves and are saying goodbye to me because they can manage on their own.
Professionally it has been the growth of our clinic community at CURA. The physios in our community have risen to the challenges of the people we see; they continue to grow and learn, many have been practicing physio as long as I have.
What advice would you provide to new physiotherapists getting started in pelvic health?
Stay curious, find a mentor or group of physios to talk with (so much easier now with Pelvic Health Solutions Facebook Group). A physio getting started in pelvic health can feel “anxious” talking about poop, pee, sex and or “pain down there” but the patients are even more anxious – so you need to be present in your interactions and listen to their whole story. Treatment almost always involves going beyond the pelvis mechanically. It always involves really getting to know the person and working with their beliefs and thoughts. You have to be comfortable with working in a biopsychosocial perspective when treating pelvic pain.