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Meet Marcy Crouch of Restorative Pelvic Physical Therapy

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marcy Crouch.

Marcy, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My story! It seems like it is still developing. Most of my story has yet to be written, but I’ve got a great start.

My introduction to pelvic health was during my first semester of PT school at USC. I was just married, living in San Diego, and was commuting on the train every day to the medical campus to work on my Doctorate in Physical Therapy. I had worked and volunteered in numerous PT settings during my undergraduate career, so I thought I knew what kind of PT I wanted to be. I was confident. Turns out I was dead wrong.

During our first Anatomy class in our first semester, we were introduced to the Pelvic Floor, and my life changed. I KNOW it sounds ridiculous, but I remember that day in class like it happened yesterday. The professor was going over the pelvic floor muscles, and anatomy of the pelvis and genitalia, and she mentioned that there is a subset of PT’s that work in this area. She used the example of a woman who had a traumatic vaginal delivery and needed Physical Therapy after her delivery to help her regain function, decrease her pain, and regain control of her bowel and bladder.

Y’all, my jaw dropped. Here I was, a 25-year-old newlywed, no babies in sight, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and I was blown away by the thought that something like that could happen to someone during a vaginal delivery. From that moment on, I just knew that was what I had to pursue. How could I not? And, after a lot of research and investigation on my own, as a student, I found that there isn’t a whole lot of PT’s trained in this area, but there are a TON of women (and men) who need this type of therapy.

I became involved in the Section on Women’s Health for the American Physical Therapy Association as a student, I begged USC to find me clinical rotations where I could learn more about pelvic health and be exposed to it in a clinical setting, and I ALWAYS talked about vaginas and rectums and pelvic health during class. I got a lot of eye rolls from my fellow classmates, but I didn’t care. I just kept on preaching the good word.

After I finished my Doctorate from USC, I moved to Dallas, TX where I immediately began my residency in Pelvic Floor PT. I studied for an additional year in this specialty, had great mentorship, was back in the anatomy lab, gained some experience teaching, and had extra didactic and hands-on patient care in this population. When my residency was complete, I sat for the Board Speciality examination, which identifies me as a Board Certified Women’s Health PT.

My husband and I moved to the Bay Area in Northern California, and I was fortunate to be hired by one of the best clinics in the country for Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy. I was hired to run and open their second branch, as well as see patients full time, and help them teach a continuing education class for other PT’s wanting to learn how to treat and manage chronic pelvic pain. I was there for about 3.5 years before moving to Portland for my husband’s job.

The mentorship and guidance I received from that clinic were unparalleled, and I owe much of my clinical skills and knowledge of running an office to their expertise and guidance. I am forever grateful, and they really brought out the best in me. In Portland, I had my two children, worked part-time at a hospital, as well as a private practice clinic, and was there for about four years before moving back to Los Angeles in early 2018 for my husband’s new job. The South Bay is my home, I grew up in Palos Verdes, and I felt that the time was right for me to hang a shingle. So I did.

In May of 2018, I opened my clinic, Restorative Pelvic Physical Therapy, INC. I work in Manhattan Beach and see patients out of a rented space from a local PT clinic, The Wellness Bank. I also provide in-home sessions for South Bay moms. I felt that adding a home session option was something that I wanted to provide for new mothers, just because 1) I know from my own experience how overwhelming and difficult it is to get out of the house with a new baby, and 2) this type of PT is so important and so underutilized that I want ALL mothers to have access to it and know how valuable it is for healing after delivery. Any type of delivery.

I am a new business, but I am busy, and being my own boss is awesome for so many reasons. I can be flexible for my patients; As a mom, I am constantly juggling 900 things at once, so being able to work on my notes or marketing or whatever the case may be after the kids go to bed is ideal. It makes for long days and nights sometimes, but the hours and hard work I am putting in is for me and my business and my name. I love that my schedule is full and I am able to be a resource for women and men who need this type of treatment.

Pelvic floor PT is necessary for many issues, and there aren’t a lot of us out there. But here I am, making it work, treating people and their pelvises with compassion, expertise, truth, and humor. And I love it.

Has it been a smooth road?
Nope! Is there ever a smooth road? I think my struggles have mainly circled around time management and continuing to grow the business and my caseload in a sustainable way. I have two little children, so when I am not working, I am home with my 18-month-old.

My 3-year-old is in preschool, but when they both are with me I can’t get any work done, and honestly, I don’t want to be working when I am with them. There’s no responding to emails, answering calls, planning social media posts, balancing accounts and my books, etc. This is totally fine, and that’s what I wanted when I decided to hang my shingle: the freedom to be with my kids and be there for them.

But it’s hard, from a personal standpoint. It seems like the downtime is few and far between, and when I’m home from work, I’m 100% with my kids until 8:30 or 9:00 pm, and then it’s time to work on the business. I want to build a business that is reputable, successful, and relevant, and it takes a lot of time to do that. I also am not an MBA, so I’m flying by the seat of my pants here from a business standpoint. I am a doctoral level PT, I don’t know much about business! Give me all the vaginas, but don’t ask me to write a business plan.

My long-term plan is to build my clinic, so I can offer full-time patient care, have my own space that I design, a full-time assistant, and 1-2 other physical therapists treating patients. This the future goal, but in the meantime, my focus is to do right by my patients, build a reputable business and clinic, and provide care that people seek out, from both the medical community and patients locally.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Restorative Pelvic Physical Therapy story. Tell us more about the business.
I am in the business of people. I own a small, private physical therapy practice, and there are only 2 of us making the business run at this present moment. I have an assistant, who works for me in the afternoons, and helps me with logistics, paperwork, scheduling patients, answering emails, etc. The rest of the business is in my hands, and I do everything that needs to be done. I specialize in treating people who have a wide array of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

Currently, my biggest population are mothers, and they see me for conservative management of anything and everything that happens to your body during and after pregnancy. I work vaginally, rectally, and everywhere in between, assessing and treating the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues.

Common diagnoses I see in the clinic are urinary incontinence (leaking urine with exercise, urge, and daily activities), painful intercourse, pelvic organ prolapse, constipation, fecal incontinence, back pain/pubic bone pain during pregnancy and after, separation of the abdominal muscles, c-section scar pain, and chronic and acute pelvic pain. I see men as well, and the transgender population who need help managing transitioning from male to female. Anyone with a pelvis is welcome… so that’s basically all people.

I am known for everything “down there” and working with varieties of complex pelvic floor dysfunction. Since I am a small practice, I see patients one on one for an hour or more, and patients get skilled, unique, comprehensive care. I don’t see more than one patient at a time and don’t use aides or assistance with patient care, so the full interaction is with me, for every session. This is a niche field of physical therapy, and there aren’t a lot of PT’s out there that specialize in treating the pelvic floor, but this is all I do, and all I have ever done.

I think it’s hard to pick something I am most proud of, but I can certainly say that I am so proud and so honored that people trust me and my business to help with these intimate issues. Especially new mothers, who are navigating the postpartum realm and needing help with recovery after birth. I’m proud to be trusted to help these women during such an emotional and vulnerable time, and I love being a part of the healing process. I take such pride in seeing a patient return to the things they want to be doing, with less pain and with improved strength.

There is a bit of a “taboo” surrounding some of the diagnoses I see. People don’t talk a lot about pain with sex after having a baby, or leaking urine with sneezing or coughing. But these are very real and very common (not normal) issues that people are facing, and they are totally life-altering. I am happy to treat them, and I am proud to do it in a way that makes people feel comfortable, empowered, and confident. I also provide online Virtual Vagina Wellness sessions, and this service is designed to be an accessible way for new mothers to connect with a skilled PT.

I provide evening and afternoon sessions, and usually, the sessions consist of learning the client’s history, offering education and answering questions, general wellness and exercise recommendations, and helping them find a local physical therapist that can assess them further. I love being able to be available for mothers all over the country and providing information and knowledge to help them navigate the post-partum time.

I do pride myself on being relatable, compassionate, honest, and non-judgmental. I provide a safe space for all people to discuss their concerns openly, and I will help them to the best of my ability. I also love to laugh, and humor is something that is a big part of my life, and I incorporate it into my online presence and interactions if the situation calls for it. Sometimes you just have to laugh. Especially during motherhood. Solidarity Y’all. Solidarity.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
Physical Therapy is always changing and evolving based on new evidence. Which is why PT is such a dynamic, exciting, and fresh field! As far as the specialty practice I work in, I do think there will be continued forward progression. What I am seeing, and have seen over the past few years, is that more people are doing research on their own and finding out about this type of PT. Which is awesome.

Social media has helped a lot with this, I have had women call me and come in for therapy because of what they saw on my Instagram page, or they read a post about pelvic floor physical therapy on a popular parenting or pregnancy blog. I think social media is having a huge impact on raising awareness about these common, but not normal, issues, and creating a platform for awareness. Mostly all of my virtual sessions are women from Instagram.

When I first started doing this type of work, the message I heard numerous times from patients would be something like “I just had a baby, isn’t this normal and now I just have to live like this? My doctor said, “I just had a baby, that’s normal.” Now I hear, “I just had a baby, I am leaking urine when I am trying to exercise or when I am coughing or laughing, and I don’t want this to happen anymore. I don’t want to wear pads and diapers for the rest of my life. Can you help me?”.

The shift is trending towards more patients becoming their own advocates, and making the decision to look for further information and get different answers. I think social media provides that platform. We are talking about these issues in a safe space, and people are realizing that even though it’s common, it’s not normal, and there are things to do about it. And these treatments are safe, conservative, and effective. I love that Instagram is a place where women from all over ask me questions and just want some information.

I refer them to therapists all over the country, and even in LA if they are living in a different part of the metroplex. I want people to get the help they need, and I think the trend of social media is nudging people to seek out more and better answers than “I just have to live with it.”

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Kara Coleen

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