Dawn teaches post-graduate courses both nationally as well as internationally on these topics to other health care professionals in the field. She is a faculty instructor at the Herman & Wallace Pelvic Rehab Institute. In 2017, Dawn was invited to speak at the World Confederation of Physical Therapy conference in South Africa about pediatric pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence. She has been published in the Journals of Urologic Nursing and Section of Women’s Health. In 2018, Dawn was awarded the Elizabeth Noble Award by the American Physical Therapy Association Section on Women’s Health for providing Extraordinary and Exemplary Service to the Field of Physical Therapy for Children.
This is a unique specialty – how did you get into this?
People frequently ask me how I got into this field of pediatric pelvic floor physical therapy. It all started after treating many adults with urinary and fecal incontinence. I was asked by a urologist to treat a child he was seeing with vesicle ureteral reflux which is a condition where urine backs up into the kidneys and causes kidney damage. This particular child was on a kidney transplant list. I knew nothing about this diagnosis and so I took it upon myself to go to surgery with this physician and learn as much as I could to help them.
Along this journey I discovered that the children I was treating for urinary leakage during the day also became dry at night however that was not what I was treating them for. I decided to investigate this and developed a program to address daytime and nighttime wetting with children. As this progressed it became very evident that constipation played a large role in urinary leakage both daytime and nighttime. In fact, constipation was so severe in some children they had to have a colostomy bag in order to give their bowel “rest”. YIKES!!! This was shocking to me. I knew I needed to do more.
I feel is it a priority to educate not only professionals in this field but PARENTS! Parents are desperately looking for support, solutions and education to help their children.
I imagined what it would feel like for children to have a feeling of empowerment and control over their own bodies. The idea of preventing the devastating social and emotional effects of urinary and/or fecal leakage and giving kiddos back the feeling of control was so powerful that I couldn’t help but pursue it. To this day I wake up every day loving what I do more than I did as a new graduate 38 years ago!
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