SABATTUS — Katie Caron opened her own traveling practice last fall after working 17 years in clinics. She’s a physical therapist specializing in women’s pelvic health.

Katie Caron opened her own business, Caron Physical Therapy, specializing in women’s pelvic health after 17 years of working as a physical therapist. She poses at her home with a model of a pelvis. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

And she doesn’t mind getting right down to business — they’re the kinds of conversations women should be having more of, she said.

“The way I kind of say it, pee, poop and sex, those are the things I really hone in on in my treatment, so bowel, bladder and sexual dysfunction,” Caron, 40, said. “Any issues dealing with those three things, the function lives in the pelvis.”

She also gets right out of the way that treatment is not about Kegels.

“It’s a common misconception, ‘Just do your Kegels, you’re a woman, you need to make sure you’re doing your Kegels.’ Women sit there doing Kegels (pelvic floor squeezes) and it doesn’t fix their problem and they’re like, oh, maybe I’m not doing it right,” Caron said.

It is, ultimately though, about not having to dart to the bathroom to make it in time. Or, not worrying about laughing with friends.

“When people have issues in this area, it really affects their quality of life, their ability to leave their home, their dignity, their self-worth,” she said. “Really just personal things.”

Caron grew up in Lewiston, the daughter of Victor News‘ owners Nancy and Phil St. Pierre.

“Summer vacations and any vacations I had, I was always there working nights,” she said.

Her interest in physical therapy was sparked at age 14 after surgery for a knee injury while playing tennis.

“I didn’t actually have the best experience, honestly, but I liked the setting, I liked the idea of exercise and what physical therapy offered,” Caron said. “I’m very much just a people person. Doctors and providers just don’t have a lot of time, and then here we are, we have the opportunity to see people several times a week, a much larger length of time, and you really get to know people, helping to better the quality of their lives. It’s a huge helping profession, I was really drawn to that.”

She started specializing in women’s pelvic health about 10 years ago and had considered going out on her own for a number of years before opening Caron Physical Therapy.

“I think it just took that last patient to finally say to me in an office, when I worked in an outpatient office, ‘I just can’t afford to come,'” Caron said. “She finally found someone that understands and can help, and she said, ‘I just can’t afford it.’ I thought to myself, this is ridiculous. She needs this. That was kind of the catapult for me.”

With no overhead of an office, she’s able to lower rates and work around clients’ schedules, visiting them before or after work, and eliminating the need for them to find child care to make an appointment. She also offers telehealth within Maine.

Caron said she typically sees a client for four- to six-hour sessions. Work starts with an evaluation: How does a client look when they breathe, how is their alignment, joint mobility, muscle strength.

“Exercise prescription is a big piece of it, but honestly, with this realm, it’s not like rehab, ‘OK, do two sets of 10, twice a day.’ This is more functional, purposeful exercise,” Caron said. “This is how you should move, this is how you should change your form when you cough, this is how you should change your posture … After a couple visits then I’m hearing, why didn’t I do this sooner?”

That’s the rewarding part of the work and why those initial, maybe embarrassing, conversations about incontinence, constipation or pain during sex are worth it.

“These things are so common but they’re so treatable,” Caron said. “We often poke fun about getting together with girlfriends and, ‘Oops, we’re laughing so hard, we wet our pants or we have to pad up and wear our laughing pads,’ things are lightly joked about but it’s a significant problem and it’s something that can be fixed.”

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