I have discussed the different types of incontinence in many other SharePosts before, and I often talk about surgical options or medications. I have briefly mentioned other options, but now there is proof!!
A study was just released out of the University of Pittsburgh that shows that biofeedback is very helpful and works well in women over the age of 60, and in particular, those who are also being treated for depression.
In general, people with depression have a sense of "learned helplessness," and those of you suffering with incontinence know that you surely often feel helpless. Imagine adding clinical depression to this. The last thing many people want is to take more medication, and that is where biofeedback becomes very important.
Biofeedback is a type of physical therapy where you learn to inhibit bladder contractions and you get sensory feedback cues until you learn to do it yourself. Biofeedback is helpful because you don't need medications and many people report having a much better sense of control of their body and of their disease.
I am currently in the process of taking care of an elderly woman who doesn't have any family and lives in a retirement home. She is quite cared for by the staff who genuinely love her very much. It took her many years to even tell the nurse who works there that she is having a problem with incontinence. My patient felt completely alone with her problem and had no idea that other people were living with incontinence too. When she came to me, she barely wanted to talk about it until I told her that she is not alone and I could help her. We tried her on several medications but the side effects were intolerable and she wasn't able to stay on them long enough to find out if they worked. I talked with her about some other options as well and she was the most interested in biofeedback because she didn't need to take any medications or go through any procedures either.
I often offer biofeedback as an option, but I really didn't know what to tell people about it's usefulness until this study. I think this study is a breakthrough for some real scientific evidence that biofeedback can work, without medications or surgery. It usually needs to be administered by a physical therapist and they just need a prescription from your doctor.
If you have been apprehensive about seeing your doctor about your incontinence because you thought all you would be offered was medications, then here you go; another option for you to try. Remember, you may not be a candidate for this, and it is important to be evaluated by a physician, but it is worth a try. You have nothing to lose!
Published On: February 19, 2008