18 May In conversation with Dara Dunne, Letterkenny University Hospital
Driving Change for better Pelvic Health
We are constantly inspired by the women working in the field of pelvic health by their passion and drive to help keep women moving. Our recent visit to Brighton for the Women On Fire 2018 Conference enabled us to learn, network and brainstorm with some of the worlds leading experts in pelvic health. We will talk more about this event and what we learned in our next blog. Today I wanted to introduce to a passionate women’s health physio working tirelessly with her brilliant team in Letterkenny University Hospital. We have worked closely with Dara Dunne, Senior Physiotherapist in Pelvic Health and Continence Care over the last few years and in particular on the production of a guide to postnatal exercises for the new mums in Letterkenny Maternity Ward. (Download available on our home page)
Dara can I ask how you got involved in women’s health? And can you tell us a little about your clinic in Letterkenny University Hospital?
My interest in womens health stems from my background as a musculoskeletal physiotherapist.
I am interested in how the body functions and particularly the functioning of the musculoskeletal system. Being a mother of 4 has led to an increased interest in womens health issues as I have an understanding and empathy that comes from personal experience which allows me to empathise with the women who present at the clinic.
The clinic is part of an acute hospital setting. I see patients on an outpatient basis daily.
I also spend time on the maternity wards providing postnatal physiotherapy advice and care. I am involved in antenatal education and I also instruct postnatal Pilates class.
Do you currently have a waiting list and are the lists getting longer?
I have a waiting list but we manage it as efficiently as possible, so right now my wait list is remaining static with routine cases waiting up to 4 months and urgent cases being seen within 2-3 weeks.
We are aware that there is currently an apprehension on the part of women with regard to surgery. I fully understand current concerns in relation to surgery, as does the whole medical community.
If women have concerns in relation to their gynecological health, the most appropriate step to take is to address these concerns with their gynecologist. Surgery has its place and it is the consultant’s role to make a judgement as to whether it is appropriate or not.
We are seeing women starting to talk more about pelvic health, how do you think we can promote this and do you think that the correct information is getting to women?
Through research the medical community has a much improved understanding of women’s health issues and we can offer many more options in terms of addressing these problems as compared with even 20 years ago. This has helped in educating women to no longer accept that these problems are part and parcel of child birth and can be treated.
I believe with the emergence of further developments and with a younger generation of healthcare professionals who are empathetic to the female condition and the rights of women to lead full and active lives – even post child birth – that greater strides will be made on a continuous basis.
I do believe we could make much greater improvements in the education of young girls at secondary school level than currently is the case. I also believe that thanks to the internet we have much greater access to information at our fingertips, however the caveat is that often the sources and accuracy of this information is questionable and even if it is accurate it may not be right for that individual.
We were privilege to be asked to help with the production of your post-natal brochures. What motivated your team to produce this booklet and are you seeing the benefit of women having all the relevant information in one booklet.
We are grateful that EVB Sport could come on board and help us with the development of our literature for mothers. As the women’s health physiotherapist who attends to mothers on the maternity ward I was acutely aware that the information I was providing, although important, was difficult for women to take on board given that they had just given birth. I was providing literature to back up the verbal instruction but I felt it was of poor quality and it was incomplete. Having our new, high quality brochure means I am happy that even if not all the information I pass on verbally is remembered on discharge that at least mothers can access accurate information in our brochure. Women are always grateful to have the brochure as back up to the verbal instruction I provide.
Dara you have so much experience and knowledge in the area of pelvic health. How would you like to see things change. In regards to education, information and ultimately treatment?
I would like to see more information in relation to pelvic health issues being provided to young girls within the education system.
I would like all women to be entitled to assessment with a women’s health physiotherapist as part of their postnatal health care.
In relation to treatment I think we could be more proactive in providing women with the education and skills to prevent the development of pelvic health issues and thereby negating the need for surgical intervention at a later stage.
On the 12th June we will be visiting Dara and her team including Clinical Nurse Lorna Balderick. Let us know if there is any question you would like me to ask the team.