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Physical Therapy Treatments
Successful for
Urinary Incontinence!
by Megan Presby, PT.

  • Do you experience a loss of urine with coughing, sneezing, laughing?
  • Do you experience a loss of urine getting to the bathroom, or removing your clothes?
  • Do you experience a loss of urine when lifting objects?
  • Do you purchase adult leakage protection garments?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above you could be experiencing symptoms of incontinence.

Incontinence is the loss of bladder or bowel control resulting in involuntary loss of urine or stool. Incontinence is not a disease but often a multifactorial condition that can be caused by birth defects, pelvic surgery, injuries to the pelvic region or the spinal cord, the childbearing process, infection, neurological diseases, pelvic floor weakness, or degenerative changes.

Once you notice symptoms of incontinence it does not mean that you are destined to spend the rest of your life with this problem! There are many successful treatments available.

There are six major types of persistent incontinence. Urge, stress, and mixed are the most common, together accounting for more than 80% of all incontinence.

Urge Incontinence, also known as bladder instability, occurs when individuals have a sudden urge to urinate but are unable to get to the toilet in time. This inability to prevent urination can be caused by problems of the nervous system such as stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis, or inflammation of the bladder or urethra (tube passing urine from the bladder out of the body).

Stress Incontinence is the loss of urine that occurs with a sudden rise in pressure in the abdomen from coughing, sneezing, lifting, or other physical activity. A major cause of stress incontinence is damage to the supporting tissues of the pelvic floor which can be caused during pregnancy and childbirth.

Mixed Incontinence is a combination of both the elements of urge and stress incontinence.

Overflow Incontinence is a condition in which the bladder cannot empty completely. Overflow incontinence occurs either because the bladder fails to contract properly or because the urethra is partially blocked. Usually the cause is due to an injury to the spinal cord or other dysfunction of the nervous system.

Total Incontinence is the complete loss of control and almost continual leakage of urine. It is rare.

Functional Incontinence is the loss of urine when a person is unable or unwilling to use the toilet appropriately. Functional incontinence can be caused by any illness or problem that makes it hard to get around such as arthritis, stroke, or dementia.

Research reveals that over 13 million Americans suffer with urinary incontinence, but it is estimated that only 15% of patients will seek medical help for their symptoms. This lack of medical attention is mostly due to the embarrassment that many suffer when they have become associated with the symptoms of incontinence.

Incontinence is not a life threatening disease however these conditions have a significant effect on quality of life. Many people affected by loss of bladder or bowel control withdrawal from social situations, recreation, travel, and in some cases employment in order to avoid the possibility of an embarrassing accident. Often people find such private and embarrassing issues difficult to talk about and therefore do not seek medical attention.

The total cost for urinary incontinence in the United States is $27.9 billion. Unfortunately, until very recently the diagnosis and treatment of incontinence has been placed as a low priority on a list of health issues.

Due to the recent push for research on how people can deal with and regain bladder control, incontinence is no longer a hopeless problem. Approximately 80% of these affected by urinary incontinence can be cured or improved.

Many types of treatment are available for incontinent people. Such treatment options include pelvic floor muscle exercises, biofeedback training, electrical stimulation, bladder retraining, diet and health modification, and functional mobility assessment.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises are a series of exercises that help strengthen the group of muscles that support the bladder, urethra, bowel, and in women the vagina and uterus. Strength in theses muscles can help prevent incontinence.

Biofeedback training is the process of using a device which measures the ability of the pelvic floor muscles to contract, this allows for increased awareness of how to control the pelvic floor.

Electrical stimulation is also a device which promotes stimulation to the pelvic floor muscles to help increase strength.

Bladder retraining consists of a program designed specifically for the patient for mandatory scheduled voiding. This protocol is designed from information that the health care provider has gained from the patient through subjective information as well as the maintenance of a bladder diary.

Diet and general health are also addressed to identify coexisting conditions or limiting factors, as well as possible bladder irritants which could cause incontinence.

Functional mobility is assessed to identify any limitations that inhibit a patient from getting to the bathroom. Sometimes a combination of all or some of these therapies is most helpful in managing and improving ones incontinence.

NovaCare Rehabilitation now has a Women's Health Specialty Center open in Beachwood, Ohio on Chagrin Road. The Specialty Center has private treatment rooms with individualized treatments private treatment programs designed to help patients with urinary incontinence.

Almost all insurances cover the specialized programs. Please call Megan Presby, PT, Center Manager at 216-292-5794 for more information or send us an email through the "Ask the Therapist feature" on ClevelandSeniors.com!


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