Biofeedback for Urinary Incontinence
Biofeedback is a treatment method that is effective in treating many common conditions, including urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the bladder, which results in urine leakage. Biofeedback trains patients to control physiological processes that are normally involuntary through focused thinking. This treatment is particularly effective in treating conditions caused or worsened by stress.
Patients suffering from urinary incontinence should first be examined by a urologist in order to rule out any physical causes for the condition. Once physical causes of the problem are ruled out, most patients are referred to a behavioral therapist. Their treatment will likely include biofeedback.
The Biofeedback Procedure
During biofeedback, electrodes are attached to the skin to monitor the brain's physiological responses and translate them into visual or audible displays on a computer screen. The doctor then guides the patient through a series of exercises that help the patient modify physiological responses. This gradually results in the patient's ability to control these responses independently. Special instruments to monitor the muscles that control urine output are also used during biofeedback treatment for urinary incontinence. The goal is for the patient to develop the ability to control urine leakage by strengthening these muscles and exercising psychological control.
Each biofeedback session lasts about an hour. Most patients require at least 8 to 10 treatment sessions before noticeable results are apparent. Patients are assigned mental exercises and relaxation techniques to practice at home each day in order to improve or maintain the results of treatment.
Benefits of Biofeedback
Biofeedback is considered a safe and effective procedure for most patients without the side effects of other treatments. Although not all patients have success with biofeedback, most report a significant decrease in the severity and frequency of their symptoms.
- National Institutes of Health
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
- U.S. National Library of Medicine