Pediatric Incontinence and Pelvic Floor: An Interview with Dawn Sandalcidi

Introduction: 

Dawn Sandalcidi is certainly recognized as an expert in pediatric pelvic floor treatment. This year, Pelvic Guru Academy is lucky enough to host one of her courses in Phoenix, AZ on September 14-15! In order to share more with all of you about the field of pediatric pelvic PT, Dawn’s background, and the upcoming course, we were lucky enough to get an interview with Dawn! 

The Interview: 

PG: What drove you to specialize in pediatric pelvic floor rehabilitation?

Dawn: I actually began working with adults in 1993 and as soon as I did one of the urologists in town sent me an 8-year-old on a kidney transplant list. My response was “What is wrong with kids?” Beginning that day he took me under his wing and educated me on what can be wrong with kids. I observed surgery with him spent hours understanding each diagnosis. That was how I developed the first program which has certainly evolved over the past 25 years!!

PG: What are some of the misconceptions that PTs have about working with kids with bowel and bladder issues?

Dawn: I think therapists that work with adults are concerned about being able to relate to kids and speak to them on a level they can understand. If you have ever had a child, grandchild, niece or nephew you can do it!! I just recommend being familiar with the most recent animated films in the theaters! 

PG: What is something that you find is often an “aha” moment for participants who take your course?

Dawn: How much fun and how easy it is to take care of kids!! There is so much joy in this patient population and the physiological and emotional changes are absolutely amazing!  

PG: Have you had to use this stuff with your own kids? And if so, did they actually listen and do as you asked or did you have to have someone else tell them so it wasn’t coming from “mom”?

Dawn: My own children never listen to me! To them, I am Mom and not specialized in this field to them. And that is as it should be; I always want to be Mom first. I make special efforts in my treatment plans for the children to communicate with me primarily to avoid parental conflict. I ask the kids if they play a sport and if so when they go to practice does the coach do the work or does the coach show you what to do and you do it? Then I ask them if their parents do the practice or just take you there and cheer you on?

I then tell them I am their coach and their parents bring them to therapy!

PG: What would be one thing that you think is essential to know about working with pediatrics that is often missed?

Dawn: CHILDREN ARE NOT SMALL ADULTS!! If you have training in adults you have a good baseline but the developing bladder is critically sensitive to pressure changes through early growth and development. Please be sure you have taken a course and understand the diagnoses you treat.

PG: What is your favorite part of teaching your pediatric pelvic floor course?

Dawn: Changing the lives of kiddos by training new therapists to be qualified to treat these kids. There was an 11-year-old boy in Denver who hung himself because he had fecal incontinence and was teased. When the pediatrician called to tell me all she could say was “Dawn if this family only knew you were out there and could have helped this kid…”

Let’s not let that happen to another! Let’s educate the masses and take care of this problem!!

PG: This really is life-saving work in so many cases! Thank you so much for doing what we do and for joining our Pelvic Guru team! 

If you’re interested in taking this course in Phoenix, AZ September 14-15, you can register HERE.

More about the instructor: 

Dawn Sandalcidi PT, RCMT, BCB-PMD (Board Certified Biofeedback-Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction) specializes in: pelvic muscle dysfunction (incontinence and pain), orthopedic manual therapy, and TMJ treatment.  She is the leading expert in the field of pediatric incontinence in physical therapy. She has trained medical professionals in manual therapy since 1992 both nationally and internationally.

Dawn has actively been treating patients for the past 36 years and owns a private practice in Denver, Colorado, develops educational materials for health care providers through and provides consulting and education services through DSD PT Consulting.

She received her degree in physical therapy in 1982 from SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse, New York.  She participated in extensive international postgraduate studies in manual and manipulative therapy of the spine and extremities in Germany, Switzerland and New Zealand. Dawn also received her BCB-PMD Board Certified Biofeedback in Pelvic Muscle Dysfunction and she was the 2018 recipient of the Elizabeth Noble Award from the section of Women’s Health of the APTA.

Dawn has been published in the Journal of Urologic Nursing, the Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy, Journal of the Section of Women’s Health and the Journal of International Association of Orofacial Myology.

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