Sarah Hwang, MD, is the new director of the Women’s Health Rehabilitation Program at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. She’s not completely new, however — Dr. Hwang completed her residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation through RIC.
In her practice, Dr. Hwang treats conditions including pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic pain, pain during intercourse, urinary and bowel incontinence, constipation, pregnancy-related pain, and postpartum musculoskeletal issues.
What brought you back to Shirley Ryan AbilityLab?
AbilityLab is home for me. The attendings, therapists, nurses and other staff that I worked with as a resident had a huge impact on the way I practice medicine. When the opportunity arose to return to a hospital that has such a special place in my heart, I couldn’t pass it up.
Tell me more about the Women’s Health Rehabilitation Program.
The Women’s Health Rehabilitation Program (WHR) was founded by Dr. Smith, our president and CEO, in the 1990s. She is one of the pioneers of our field. Most of the physiatrists that practice women’s health rehabilitation were trained here or by someone who was trained here.
I am excited to be joining an outstanding group of WHR physicians at AbilityLab. Dr. Christina Hynes, Dr. Nicole Wysocki and Dr. Monica Rho were all mentors to me as a resident. I’ve learned so much from each of them and it’s an honor to now work with them as colleagues. Dr. Maria Reese is another exceptional physician — she and Dr. Rho bring a unique perspective to our WHR group as they are both board-certified in sports medicine. AbilityLab has always had such a strong presence in women’s health rehabilitation, and I’m excited about the possibilities for advancements in patient care.
How is our women’s health program different?
Throughout the country, women’s health physical therapists don’t often directly collaborate with a physiatrist when treating this patient population. At AbilityLab, we have PTs and physiatrists who co-treat patients. We are located in the same physical space and meet regularly, which leads to a great collaborative effort and improvements in patient care. We also have a skilled team of therapists that is adept at dealing with complicated cases.
AbilityLab has always had such a strong presence in women’s health rehabilitation, and I’m excited about the possibilities for advancements in patient care.SARAH HWANG, MD
Why do you think addressing women’s health rehabilitation needs is so important?
First off, I’m a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a granddaughter, a mentor, and a friend. I am a runner and understand the importance of exercise. I also have a career that is extremely important to me. I understand the vital roles that women play in their lives and I understand the daily demands that women face.
Women have so many jobs and responsibilities. Adding pain or urinary incontinence to the long list of duties can be overwhelming. I have patients who can’t get down on the ground to play with their children because of pain, or have to stop running because they leak urine, or can’t be intimate with their partners because of pain, or are afraid to go to their granddaughter’s graduation party because they are afraid of having a bowel accident.
Treating these disorders and helping women get back to focusing on the important roles and passions in their lives is what I love most about my job.
What does it take to become your patient? Is a referral needed?
No referral is needed! Anyone (woman OR man!) suffering from the above diagnoses can make an appointment to see me by calling 312-238-1000. Most of my patients learn about me from their outpatient physicians or by word of mouth. I also see some inpatients at Prentice that have pain, numbness or weakness after childbirth.