In June, Julia Salazar, PT, DPT (Airway Heights), was awarded the professional designation of board-certified clinical specialist in women’s health physical therapy by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties (ABPTS) of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). To date there are 433 women’s certified specialist providers nationally, 22 being in the state of WA.
Salazar specializes in the identification and treatment of women, men, and children who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to control the muscles of your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles and ligaments in your pelvic region. The pelvic floor acts like a sling to support the organs in your pelvis- including the bladder, rectum, and uterus or prostate. Contracting and relaxing these muscles allows you to control your bowel movements, urination, and, for women particularly, sexual intercourse.
Some common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
• Urinary issues: urgency to urinate or painful urination
• Constipation or bowel straining
• Lower back pain
• Pain in the pelvic region, genitals or rectum
• Discomfort during sexual intercourse
• Pressure in the pelvic region or rectum
• Muscle spasms in the pelvis
“Becoming a board-certified clinical specialist in women’s health physical therapy demonstrates my commitment to pursuing the highest level of skill with which to best serve my patients,” Salazar said.
Salazar graduated in 2010 from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, WA, with a doctor of physical therapy degree. She is currently a physical therapist at Apex Physical Therapy in Airway Heights.
To obtain board certification, candidates must submit evidence of required clinical practice in one of nine specialty areas: Cardiovascular and Pulmonary, Clinical Electrophysiology, Geriatrics, Neurology, Oncology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Sports, and Women’s Health Physical Therapy.
In addition, candidates must successfully complete a rigorous examination, demonstrating specialized knowledge and advanced clinical proficiency in a specialty area of physical therapist practice.
Certifications are valid for 10 years. For recertifications, ABPTS has developed a maintenance model that focuses on continuing competence of the physical therapist specialist. This new “Maintenance of Specialist Certification” model includes the following elements: professional standing and direct patient care hours, commitment to lifelong learning through professional development, practice performance through examples of patient care and clinical reasoning, and cognitive expertise through a test of knowledge in the profession. To date, more than 16,000 physical therapists are board-certified clinical specialists.
ABPTS was established by APTA as the governing body that awards certification to physical therapists who meet approved requirements. ABPTS oversees the physical therapy clinical specialist certification and maintenance of specialist certification programs and awards certificates to physical therapists meeting approved requirements.