It rhymes with Elvis, whose enthusiastic gyrations of his own distracted and attracted fans everywhere.
We all have one. Turns out, maintaining its health is a crucial component for our overall wellbeing.
The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles acting like a "hammock" that runs between the hips (side-to-side) and from the pubic bone to the tailbone (front-to-back). Their main role in the body is control of bowel, bladder and sexual function. These muscles, like any other muscle in the body, can become tight or overworked.
The list of symptoms that affect patients - both male and female - is extensive, ranging from pain when sitting or during exercise to incontinence for men, and low back pain and pre- and post-childbearing conditions for women.
Commonly referred to as Pelvic Floor Disorder (PFD), one in three women will experience this condition during their lifetime. Although much attention is directed toward women, the Mayo Clinic reports that 16% of men have also been identified with pelvic floor disorders.
In a bright, sunny clinic in Lake Zurich Dr. Maureen Strasser specializes in helping patients with PFD. She’s been treating patients for the last 23 years. We recently talked to Dr. Strasser about her career.
SW Lake (SWL): What's your educational background and how did it help you prepare for your job?
Dr. Maureen Strasser (MS): I earned a Bachelors in psychology from Loyola University Chicago; a Masters in Physical Therapy from Midwestern University, and a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from University of Indianapolis. I got my doctorate degree later in my career which with my clinical experience has made me that much stronger of a therapist.
SWL: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a healthcare provider?
MS: No, I was always squeamish with the sight of blood so I never gave medicine a second thought.
SWL: Was there anything in particular that prompted you to focus on pelvic care?
MS: After 15 years of treating mostly orthopedic problems like back and neck pain, I started to see patients who would describe pain in their pelvic area. Since I wasn't familiar with how to treat pelvic health problems at the time, I would refer them to a pelvic health physical therapy clinic in Lake Zurich. Soon after, I reached out to the clinic to see if they were interested in mentoring me specifically in pelvic health. I persisted for some time until finally being hired by the owner and therapist, Teri Elliott-Burke who was a pioneer in the field of women's health physical therapy since she opened the clinic in 2000. A year after I was on staff, I took over ownership of the clinic, and the rest is history.
SWL: Please describe your services.
MS: A common condition we treat in females is urinary incontinence (leaking) which can start any time from adolescence to post menopause. We help women during pregnancy with back, hip and sacroiliac joint pain, as well as postpartum moms who can have similar issues after delivery along with pain or scarring. In our expanded clinic we now have the space and equipment to treat our orthopedic patients including postpartum moms who may need guidance on how to return to high impact activities like weight lifting and running safely.
SWL: Your clinic used to be called Women's Physical Therapy Institute. Why the name change?
MS: When we took over the clinic in 2017, we rebranded and changed the name to Pelvic & Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialists. We wanted males who need pelvic and orthopedic therapy to feel just as comfortable as females coming into our clinic. A common population we treat are men with pelvic pain that can be caused from hernia repair surgeries, prostatitis, vasectomies, constipation or other causes, such as bike riding or repetitive lifting. We also help men improve urinary incontinence after surgical removal of the prostate due to cancer.
SWL: What differentiates you from other choices that readers have?
MS: Our model of care is key. Every patient is with their therapist one-on-one every session. We do not utilize support staff in our treatments. To deliver the highest quality of care we believe the quality and form of each exercise is just as important as hands-on care.
SWL: Tell us about your family life.
MS: I am in a house full of males, including Thomas, my husband, and two boys, Liam (8) and Dean (7). My house is filled with dirt, chemistry experiments and Legos!
SWL: We heard that you are an avid gardener.
MS: I love nature and being outside. Being in my garden and pulling weeds is my happy place.
SWL: What advice can you give to a young person considering a career in the healthcare field?
MS: Observe as much as you can of all different aspects of physical therapy. There are so many different specialties in our profession and so many things you can learn and do within the field. Also, consider traveling before more responsibilities in life make it a challenge to get-up-and- go.
Pelvic & Orthopedic Physical Therapy Specialists, 745 Ela Road, is open five days a week. Learn more at PelvicandOrthoPT.com and call 847.550.9780 to schedule an appointment.