Treatment of Bowel, Bladder, and Pelvic Floor Disorders

TBD, June 2021
Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI

Course Description

An intensive 4-day study of the anatomical and psycho-physiological principles essential for the development of effective treatment programs.

This course fulfills the didactic training and practicum components for the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA) certification in Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction (PMDB) Biofeedback.

A benefit for the PT Faculty Student Scholarship Fund to assist graduate students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

This course is designed for licensed medical and health care professionals who would like to expand and integrate their knowledge of the scientific basis for the treatment of bowel, bladder and pelvic floor disorders. The course is limited to, physical therapists, occupational therapists, nurses, and physician assistants who are either working in, or preparing for practice in this area.

Course Objectives

Participants will learn:

  • Anatomical, physiological and psychological mechanisms that contribute to various bowel, bladder and pelvic pain disorders.
  • To describe the types and etiologies of various bowel, bladder and pelvic pain disorders.
  • Basic principles of surface electromyography (sEMG) related to behavioral treatment for bowel, bladder and pelvic pain disorders.
  • Functional and physiological assessment protocols for disorders of the bowel, bladder and the pelvic floor.
  • Biofeedback and behavioral strategies used to treat the various bowel, bladder and pelvic floor disorders for men and women and across various age groups ranging from pediatric to geriatric.

Course Schedule and Content

Check-in for course 7:30-8:00 a.m. Wednesday

Wednesday (8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.)

  • Anatomy of the lower abdominal wall, pelvic girdle, muscles and ligament structures
  • Overview of neurotransmitters in the peripheral nervous system
  • Anatomy lab with prosected cadaver study
  • Introduction to Biofeedback and Learning Theory for Pelvic Floor Disorders
  • Stress, Distress and Adaptation: Early applications of biofeedback techniques
  • Learning to manage the stress response: Neuromuscular relaxation strategies
  • Historical development of biofeedback protocols used for bowel and bladder disorders         
  • EMG PFM assessment and training principles

Thursday (8:00 a.m.-*5:30 p.m.) *Half of the group will adjourn at 3:00pm

  • Surface EMG instrumentation-physiological basis, essential terms and concepts
  • Neuromuscular relaxation-demonstration
  • Clinical Disorders: Bladder disorders: signs, etiology, symptoms
  • sEMG assessment and training principles
  • Introduction to biofeedback lab    
  • sEMG and Neuromuscular Relaxation Practicums

Friday (8:00 a.m.-*5:30 p.m.) *Half of the group will adjourn at 3:00pm

  • Clinical Disorders: Bladder disorders
    • Etiology and testing 
    • Medical and behavioral treatments for bladder dysfunction
  • Vaginal Renewal-Restoration and Maintenance of Vaginal and Vulvar Health
  • sEMG and Neuromuscular Relaxation Practicums

Saturday (8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.)

  • Clinical Disorders: Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndromes
  • Classification of pain disorders
  • Medical & behavioral treatments for pelvic pain disorders
  • Clinical Disorders: Bowel dysfunction
    • Signs, etiology, symptoms
    • Diagnostic testing of bowel function
    • Medical & behavioral treatments for bowel disorders
  • Integration of functional assessment with sEMG data and treatment planning
  • Preparation for clinical practice, ethics, steps to pursuing BCIA certification

28.75 contact hours pending by the WPTA

During the practicum, each candidate will perform and undergo an internal pelvic floor muscle assessment and sEMG pelvic floor muscle assessment and training. Vaginal and/or anal sEMG recording sensors will be used for the sEMG assessment and training. The practicum will be performed in groups of 2-4 persons with provisions for privacy. Ample time is provided to complete the lab and teaching assistants will be available to provide students with individualized attention.


Jeannette Tries Ph.D., OTR, BCB-PMD, received a BS in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 1978, a MS in clinical psychology in 1989 and a PhD in Educational Psychology in 2000 from Marquette University. She has worked in the field of incontinence and pelvic floor disorders since 1986 and has published in numerous scientific journals and medical textbooks. She has consulted on national and international policy boards interested in the problems of incontinence and pelvic floor disorders and contributed to the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research Clinical Practice Guideline on Urinary Incontinence. She currently sits on the NIH funded Advisory Board for the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network. As Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery, Dr. Tries established and directed therapy services for 15 years within the Colon-Rectal Surgery Department in the College of Medicine at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago. There she worked with Eugene Eisman, PhD developing measurement methods to assess pelvic floor muscle function in pediatrics and adults. For 14 years Dr. Tries directed rehabilitation treatment at The Aurora Women’s Pavilion’s Center for Continence and Pelvic Floor Disorders in Milwaukee, WI. She is a senior fellow of the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance and is certified in pelvic muscle dysfunction biofeedback.

Michael A. Schellpfeffer, MD, MS, will provide the anatomy lecture for the course. Dr. Schellpfeffer is a graduate of the Medical College of Wisconsin after completing undergraduate studies at Marquette University. He completed his residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Florida and currently practices OB/GYN in Kenosha, WI. Dr. Schellpfeffer returned to the Medical College of Wisconsin to obtain a Master’s Degree in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy. He continues to teach at the Medical College of Wisconsin as a Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology, and Anatomy as well as doing basic research exploring the mechanisms of intrauterine growth restriction using ultrasound imaging in the chick embryo model.

Andrew Starsky BSEE, MPT, Ph.D., will provide the sEMG instrumentation lecture for the course. Andy obtained his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University in 1992. He completed his Masters in Physical Therapy degree in 1998, and PhD in Biomedical Engineering in 2007. Andy is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at Marquette University, teaching courses in Electrotherapy, physical modalities, evidence based practice, and biomechanics. He has been teaching electrotherapy for 11 years and has traveled extensively to lecture on this topic. Andy's energetic approach to teaching and research have garnered him grants from the National Institute of Health, the American Heart Association, and the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research.

Diane Novotny, B.S., will co-direct the anatomy lab component of the course. Ms. Novotny received her bachelors of science from Marquette University in 2004. She is currently a program coordinator and instructor for the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Ms. Novotny teaches anatomy to professional and undergraduate students and coordinates the anatomy programming for the department.

Brenda Neumann, OTR, BCB-PMD, will serve as course facilitator and assist with the biofeedback practicum. Ms. Neumann received a BS in Occupational Therapy and Biology from Mount Mary College in 1990. Brenda has been instrumental in the development of several programs to treat incontinence and pelvic floor disorders and she currently provides treatment at ProHealth Care, Inc. in Waukesha, WI. Ms. Neumann has been active in professional associations that promote continence and is past president of the Biofeedback Society of Wisconsin. She lectures and publishes material relative to the practice of occupational therapy and urinary incontinence. Ms. Neumann is a fellow of the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance and is certified in pelvic muscle dysfunction biofeedback.

Mary Plummer, OTR, BCB-PMD, will assist with the biofeedback practicum. Ms. Plummer received a BS in Occupational Therapy from the U of WI in 1976 and has 28 years of experience in the specialties of biofeedback, incontinence and pelvic floor disorders. She has participated in the development of several continence programs in the Chicago and Milwaukee Areas and has written papers and developed treatment procedures and resource materials specific to the pediatric population. Her most recent position was at the Aurora Women’s Pavilion, Center for Continence and Pelvic Floor Disorders in West Allis, WI. She is a senior fellow of the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance and is certified in pelvic muscle dysfunction biofeedback.

Lisa Fischer, OTR, CLT, will assist with the biofeedback practicum. Ms. Fischer is an Occupational Therapist with over 31 years of experience inrehabilitative medicine, working in a variety of settings, including community mental health, skilled nursing facility, acute care hospital, and outpatient services. She is certified in Lymphedema Therapy. She has treated incontinence and pelvic floor disorders using biofeedback and other manual strategies for the past 13 years, most recently at the Aurora Women's Pavilion Center for Continence and Pelvic Floor Disorders in West Allis, Wisconsin. She and her husband just recently moved to Arizona.

Student studying on campus


Click here for registration form

Early-bird tuition: $875, prior to May 1st

Tuition: $975

Tuition includes the 4 day course with multiple labs, breakfast/lunch/snacks daily, a comprehensive course syllabus, and pelvic floor EMG sensors to take home. A portion of the tuition will be a donation to the PT Faculty Student Scholarship Fund. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.

For more information about:

Course logistics or general information, contact: Diane Slaughter at (414) 288-3097 or

Course content, contact Brenda Neumann at

BCIA certification, contact Judy Crawford at (720) 502-5829 or This course provides the didactic and practicum components for BCIA certification; Additional clinical training and an examination are required. Please consult BCIA for further certification requirements.


Information on accommodations

Marquette University is also sponsoring:

Behavioral and Rehabilitation Treatment of Bowel Disorders - An Advanced Course
2020 dates TBD

Sexual Health and Pelvic Pain: Rehabilitation Strategies for Pelvic Floor Clinicians
April 23-25, 2020


This course was a standout for many reasons. The anatomy lab was wonderful and was a great supplement to the lecture. The biofeedback lab with a lab assistant for each group was invaluable! This course has really expanded my knowledge and comfort level in terms of understanding treatment options and use of biofeedback. Jaimie Patillo, MS, OTR/L Bluffton, SC

I really appreciated the integration of relaxation techniques and meditation with the biofeedback material being presented in this very informative course. Ginny Jurken PT; C-IAYT

Wonderful and very informative class. Dr. Tries is an excellent instructor. She can explain difficult concepts very well and makes it easy to understand. Highly recommended! I have attended several pelvic classes. This is exceptional! - Glenda B., PT, MHS, CLT, ACSM EP-C, CCET Gurnee, IL

Very friendly staff hope to come back for more learning experiences. - Miriam Saldon, PT, Port Orange, FL

Dr. Tries is a true gift to the field. I feel honored to be able to study underneath her by taking this course. Her knowledge and passion for the field is inspiring. I have obtained knowledge and skill that I can apply to my practice immediately. - Nina Olson, DPT, CMPTP, Fox Point, WI

This course has provided me with the theory and skills necessary to treat patients with pelvic floor disorders using biofeedback and behavioral treatment. It was well organized. -Nicole Quarne, PT, Loyola Wi

There is no other course in the country like yours! It encompasses using biofeedback with multiple strategies and the physiological understanding of how to treat pelvic floor disorders. It is so well organized and fun. Thanks you! It reflects the impressive PT program Marquette offers! - Ellen Fineman, PT, Tualatin OR

If you plan to use biofeedback for testing or neuromuscular re-education, this course has given me the skills to understand and manipulate a biofeedback device in a confident and meaningful way that no other pelvic muscle dysfunction course has provided -Carol Gardner, PT, Red Win MN

This was the most comprehensive and engaging women’s health course I have ever taken. The instructors really take their time and prove a personal touch that really makes the material and skills immediately applicable in your practice setting. -Emily Craigen, PT, OPT, Crystal Lake IL

The small lab group allows for questions to be answered in detail and the TA’s can take the time to explain what you are seeing in the EMG readings and how to apply it to your patients. -Christine Sachs, PT, Farmington MN

This is the most comprehensive pelvic floor course I have attended. Jeannette’s close attention to detail in instructing anatomy, physiology and neurology of pelvic floor is invaluable to new and experiences pelvic floor practitioners. -Jennifer Schaub, PT, Muskegon, MI

This course provides such thorough and integral information relevant to almost any therapy practice. From the expertise from Dr. Tries and guest lecturers, to the hands-on lab experience. This course has invigorated and inspired my future practice like no other continuing education opportunity has offered in this area of practice. -Molly Mahler, OT, Milwaukee, WI

This course was an excellent way for me to expand foundational knowledge of treating, and improving outcomes, for patients with bowel and bladder disorders. I am leaving the course with many resources, and knowledge, to immediately integrate into my OT practice. Acquiring these skills will be life-changing for multiple populations and treating across the life-span. -Erica Stevens, MOTR, Harlan, IA