Back to the Beginning: Placental Potential

The placenta is a fascinating and versatile organ which connects fetus to mother during the forty weeks of pregnancy.  It is a temporary organ which brings oxygen and nutrients to the fetus during pregnancy and allows for removal of waste and other toxic substances.  It is the “elastic clause” of organs, so to speak, due to the fact that it serves as many organs for the price of one!  The placenta acts as the kidneys, the liver, the lungs, the endocrine system, the gastrointestinal system, and the immune system.  The hormones produced by the placenta promote fetal development and maintenance of the pregnancy.  In addition, the placenta protects the fetus from the immune system of the mother (which perceives the fetus as a foreign object).  If we women thought that we were good at multitasking, be even more impressed with your placenta’s ability to do so!

Picture of placenta
A multi-tasking organ

The health of the placenta plays a large role in the health of the developing fetus.  Medical problems such as preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, stillbirth, and premature labor and deliver may occur when placental problems exist.  In addition, lifelong health of both mother and child are influenced by the placenta.  To date, not much is known regarding what actually constitutes a “normal placenta” and how it actually functions.  According to Dr. Diana Bianchi (Executive Director, Mother Infant Research Institute, Tufts Medical Center), the placenta is “the Rodney Dangerfield of organs.  It doesn’t get respect. It gets thrown out at the end of pregnancy.”  The only research that we have involves studying the placenta AFTER delivery, as opposed to during pregnancy itself.

Fortunately, the National Institute of Health (NIH) has initiated the Human Placenta Project, a $41.5 million project which has multiple goals.  Several of these goals include developing improved technology to analyze placental development during pregnancy and the creation of non-invasive methods to predict poor pregnancy outcomes.  Furthermore, the project is aimed at better understanding the connection between placental health with long term maternal and fetal health, and researchers seek to develop interventions in the case of poor predicted placental and fetal outcomes.   Hopefully, these research objectives will be achieved in order to improve maternal and fetal outcomes.

For more information on the Human Placenta Project, please watch the following short YouTube video from the NIH:

A Blog is Born

It is with great gratitude to God and tremendous joy that I share with you and announce the birth of the Revitalize Physical Therapy blog. The reason I have decided to blog is in order to share with you, dear reader, the latest medical technology regarding pelvic floor physical therapy, interesting scientific advances, and general health and wellness related information. I believe that in order to truly be a fantastic health care provider, something which I strive to be, it is important for clinicians to actively pursue knowledge and evidenced based research in order to best care for his or her patients.
I am a self-proclaimed PT aficionado, and I own that with pride. I browse PubMed and the NIH websites for fun. (Don’t worry, I engage in other more traditional recreational activities for fun as well ☺) I enjoy learning immensely, and I was that girl in your class who sat in the front row and asked questions on a regular basis. When I was a student physical therapist, one of my excellent and inspirational clinical instructors, Mike Formisano, helped me realize that this is one of my biggest strengths, and he encouraged me to continue being a life-long learner for many years to come.

Writing this blog is one way that I strive to accomplish that goal. It challenges me to keep up with medical advances and research. Routine and status quo are not options, especially when the health of my patients is at stake. So as I journey further into the exciting world of science and studies, I invite you to join me on my trip. In addition, I plan on sharing ideas and insights from other bloggers or various credible resources that I hope you will find interesting. I hope to share a bi-monthly blog post with you, and I invite you to request ideas or topics that you want me to discuss. Please email me at with any suggestions, articles, or areas of interest. I look forward to expanding your mind and satisfying your intellectual hunger. And if I happen to convert you into a PT aficionado in the process, well then welcome to the amazing club.