Aurora Gomez doesn’t remember much of the major car accident that left her with a punctured lung, shoulder, rib and heel fractures and ACL and meniscus (knee) tears as a young teen.
Gomez, a physical therapist and Rebound North Clinic Supervisor, was severely injured when the driver of an 18-passenger van carrying Gomez and several other members of a Southern Oregon high school youth group fell asleep at the wheel, rolling the van.
She does remember the hours she spent in physical therapy the following year recovering from her injuries sustained in the accident. The positive rehab experience led Gomez to eventually pursue physical therapy as a career.
“With an injury, there’s so much psychologically that changes when you can’t do what you love doing,” said Gomez, an avid volleyball player and snowboarder. As a patient, “I was able to see what an influence physical therapy can have on (improving) people’s lives.”
After earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Physical Therapy from Southern Oregon University (Ashland, Oregon), Gomez obtained a Doctorate of Physical Therapy degree from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona.
Upon graduation, Gomez developed an interest in womens’ and men’s pelvic health issues while working in the outpatient orthopedic clinical setting. She has completed advanced coursework in a wide variety of pelvic health conditions, but enjoys the treatment of stress urinary incontinence (SUI) — a leakage of urine during physical activity or exertion such as coughing or sneezing — the most.
“SUI is common but it’s not normal,” said Gomez, who regularly treats patients with SUI as well as those with pelvic pain, coccyx pain and postpartum pain/dysfunction, among other conditions. “There’s so much pelvic health specialists can do to help.”
One of the biggest components of pelvic health rehab is educating the patient about their condition, said Gomez, who also treats general orthopedic conditions. For example, she said many patients aren’t aware that pelvic floor dysfunction can be an underlying cause of low back pain (the pelvis supports the spinal column).
Gomez knows firsthand that pelvic health issues can be a sensitive topic of discussion with patients; she is currently undergoing physical therapy for postpartum complications of her own (her son Theo is four months old), which she said has made her a more compassionate therapist.
“Oftentimes there is an emotional reaction toward pelvic health because it’s such a personal area of our body,” she said. “With my patients, I discuss the anatomical issues contributing to their pain, so that they understand it’s a treatable orthopedic condition.”