Ann Nwabuebo, DPT, a Pelvic Health Specialist at MossRehab, works with outpatients across the gender spectrum with pelvic health issues such as incontinence, constipation, or chronic pain.
What made you decide to become a pelvic floor therapist?
I had pelvic health issues that started as a teenager. Like many of my patients, I thought it was normal and was too embarrassed to talk about it. My pelvic health issues were exacerbated with the birth of my children. So, much of my motivation in pursuing this specialty came from my healing journey. I also am passionate about this work because there is a need in our community for this service. Many people suffer in silence because of the sensitivity of this topic. Providing accessibility to this type of care is much needed.
What are your educational background and training?
I earned my Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Arcadia University and Certification as a Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Practitioner from the Herman & Wallace Institute. Over the years, my postgraduate training concentrated on pelvic health services for all genders, pre-/postpartum health, LGBTQ+ health, and chronic pain management.
Where did you work before joining MossRehab?
For 12 years, I operated a private pelvic health practice in Washington, DC and, then, California. Over the past few years, I've developed and implemented pelvic health programs for private practices and hospital organizations such as Agile Physical Therapy HQ in Silicon Valley (the preferred PT provider for Google), Kaiser Permanente, and the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Why did you decide to work at MossRehab?
I wanted to work at MossRehab because of the patient-centered, collaborative care approach. In the world of pelvic health, there isn't one specialty that owns it. Physical therapists, gynecologists, urologists, mental health therapists, urogynecologists, gastroenterologists, and clinicians from other disciplines work closely together to care for a patient. I wanted to be a part of an environment that has a coordinated level of care.
What is pelvic floor therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialized form of physical therapy that provides safe and structured rehabilitation of the pelvic floor muscles. We focus on improving the function of the muscles, nerves, and connective tissue that support the pelvic organs. It is very helpful in addressing pelvic pain and various bladder, bowel, and sexual problems.
What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, trauma to the pelvis, postural issues, and multiple pelvic surgeries can increase the chance of pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic therapy significantly helps with these issues.
What are the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?
Symptoms can include urinary or fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, constipation, prenatal/ postpartum-related pain, or pain with sex. I also work with patients before and after various pelvic surgeries like prostatectomies, hysterectomies, or gender-affirming surgery. It's important that individuals seek professional care for any of these symptoms.
What kind of patients do you see at MossRehab?
I work with outpatients across the gender spectrum including men, women, transgender, and gender non-binary patients at MossRehab Tabor Road.
What kinds of therapies do you use?
I use hands-on treatments like myofascial release, craniosacral therapy, and visceral manipulation to manually treat pain and dysfunction. Treatments can be done externally around the pelvic floor and internally in the vaginal or rectal area when warranted. I also use biofeedback training, functional strengthening, breathing exercises, and mindfulness work to help patients successfully return to their beloved activities.
Are there any new treatments in pelvic floor therapy?
Yes, there are. The technology used in treating pelvic floor symptoms can range from rehabilitative ultrasound imaging of the pelvic floor, electrical stimulation, and biofeedback training. There are even biofeedback and electrical stimulation units that patients can purchase for home use.
What inspires you on the job?
Watching the transformation of my patients and empowering them to do things that they thought weren't possible inspires me. Many symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are very private and intimate issues to my patients. As they begin to understand the causes of what they're experiencing and how to address them, it brings joy back into their lives and relationships. That is a huge part of what makes me love what I do.
Who has had a strong influence on your life?
My dad, who came from humble beginnings in Nigeria, has made the biggest impact in my life. He was the first in his family to go to college, earning an engineering degree in the United Kingdom and becoming a senior executive. He and my mom gave us the tools to value education, service, and compassion. His legacy of humility and hard work is something I hope to pass on to my kids.
What is something that your co-workers don’t know about you?
I've run in 30 marathon races, between 5 to 10K, over the years. I also mentor students and women/minority entrepreneurs in nurturing their growth in pelvic health and entrepreneurship. In addition, I host community-based seminars. During COVID, I conducted two to three free virtual presentations per week with nonprofit organizations, mostly serving the prenatal and postpartum populations.
What is your life motto?
My life's motto is to always leave people better than I found them. As a healthcare provider, it's natural to want to do everything possible to help my patients meet their goals. For some patients with chronic problems, their symptoms may not completely resolve. By supporting and advocating for them in every way, we can leave them feeling healthier, happier, and more empowered.
Learn more about Pelvic Floor Therapy at MossRehab.