Location: Toronto, Ontario
Pelvic Health Solutions is honoured to feature Michelle Fraser as the Professional Spotlight this month. Fraser was an obvious choice because she is undoubtedly the package deal! She is dynamic, fun, personable, caring and a fantastic physiotherapist and pelvic health advocate.
Fraser graduated with her physiotherapy degree from the University of Toronto in 1994. In 2004 she obtained her Advanced Diploma of Manipulative Therapy, and she is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapists. Fraser is an associate instructor with Pelvic Health Solutions and the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA).
In addition to being an orthopedic and pelvic health physiotherapist, Fraser is a certified yoga instructor. She incorporates many of the physical and philosophical principles of yoga into her physiotherapy practice. Combining knowledge gathered from both of these worlds, she performs yoga movement analysis, helping patients avoid or recover from injuries that may affect their practice. Other treatment modalities include education, exercise, joint and soft tissue mobilization, joint manipulation, and acupuncture.
Fraser is a pelvic health advocate and educator who works with persons of all genders experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction or interested in understanding the complexities of pelvic health. She is on a mission to empower people in Canada and internationally to take charge of their pelvic health, which can often be a life changing experience for anyone who has suffered pelvic health dysfunction. Fraser’s dedication to making pelvic health internationally accessible is furthered by her commitment to her own continuing education. She’s earned her Masters of Education at OISE, specializing in global health education, and has been involved with teaching physiotherapists advanced orthopaedic skills both in Canada and in Nicaragua. Michelle is the 2016 recipient of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s Global Health Award. She will soon be launching online pelvic health physiotherapy consultations for persons in rural and remote areas of Canada and beyond. One of her missions is to increase public awareness of obstetrical fistulas and pelvic health trauma in areas of conflict.
Fraser’s enthusiasm and passion for pelvic health are admirable. It is a pleasure to have her on our team. Check out her personal website at http://fraserpelvichealth.com
How long have you been practicing pelvic health physiotherapy?
I have been an orthopaedic physiotherapist since 1994, and over the past few years I have focused my practice to pelvic health. Interestingly, I have found that pelvic health physiotherapy requires a holistic approach – this work is not restricted to the pelvis. Physical contributing factors to pelvic floor dysfunction may be found as far away as the head or the feet. So, I will say that I have been preparing for my pelvic health practice for decades!
What lead you into the specialty of pelvic health?
Curiosity led me to pelvic health. I enrolled in my first course with the intention of exploring – and I was hooked within the first hour. I knew that I had stumbled upon a very powerful and essential area of physiotherapy. I have been fully engaged ever since!
What do you love most about your profession?
The success stories within a pelvic health practice are profound. The work of the pelvic health physiotherapist has the capacity to improve quality life at a fundamental level. The processes of micturition, digestion, elimination, sexual activity, emotional awareness – these are all essential to life. How we are doing in these areas affects all other aspects of our lives. Our ability to take part in activities that we love. Our relationships with others. Our ability to have babies. Being a part of someone’s healing in this way is indescribably satisfying.
Which course did you enjoy the most/what course has changed your clinical practice the most?
The first course that I enrolled in with Pelvic Health Solutions, Urinary Incontinence for Men and Women, completely changed the direction of my career. It completed a gap in knowledge that was lacking, despite many years of the study and practice of orthopaedic physical therapy. For physiotherapists who do not wish to learn internal techniques, but who would like to develop knowledge and skills that will include pelvic health physiotherapy into their practice, I definitely recommend the Non-Internal Introductory Pelvic Floor Course.
Subsequently, Level III – Treating Pain – A New Level of Care was transformative. This course turned my understanding of pain upside down. The knowledge and skills that I learned revamped the way I approach the treatment of pain with my clients, with great success! Not only are my outcomes better, but my clients have a stronger understanding of how and why they are experiencing their symptoms, and why their symptoms may be so persistent. The concepts from this course create hope for my clients and empower them to heal. This course is also non-internal; I absolutely recommend it for all physiotherapists.
What has been your most rewarding experience?
It makes me very, very happy when I help clients heal from troubling symptoms that they have experienced for many years. Symptoms that they thought would never resolve. Symptoms that greatly affected their lives: Urinary incontinence significant enough to preclude participation in social events -for decades. Pelvic pain that made sexual activity impossible – in a young woman who was recently engaged to be married and wished to have children. Feelings of powerlessness and helplessness related to these symptoms may arise in a person who has been told that they must learn to live with their symptoms, because there is nothing that can be done. When I am able to work with a client to resolve these types of problems, it is moving for both of us at a very deep level.
I also love that I can integrate pelvic health physiotherapy with my other love: global health. I am currently researching ways to improve access to pelvic health physiotherapy in remote areas on a global level.
What advice would you provide to new physiotherapists getting started in pelvic health?
Remember that you are a physiotherapist with excellent skills and knowledge, and what you have learned in the pelvic health courses builds on this strong foundation. Having said that, you have likely encountered a lot of information that is completely new, for example the anatomy. You have likely learned techniques that at first seem completely foreign. Working with a mentor will be invaluable to help you to navigate this new knowledge and will help you to hone your new skills.