ARTICLES / Incontinence / The
Inconvenience of Incontinence /
Share This Article
The Inconvenience of Incontinence
By Kristine Dwyer, Staff Writer
Across the country, physical therapists,
as well as occupational therapists and registered
nurses, are now becoming specifically trained in
exercise therapy and continence re-training programs.
Once a cause for incontinence is determined, an
individual program is devised. Patients meet with
therapists, learn how their bladder works and what steps
to take to retrain and manage their bladder health. The
program lasts from four to twelve weeks. By using
exercises supported by biofeedback methods (a therapy
that uses measuring devices or sensors to help you learn
to identify and control the bladder muscles), physical
therapists and the like are now able to help patients of
Re-training and strengthening pelvic floor muscles can
help patients improve their bladder control. Lifestyle
changes such as relaxation, decreased caffeine
consumption, monitored diet and fluid intake, knowledge
of proper lifting techniques and daily exercise can also
positively impact bladder health.
Therapists report that even the smallest changes or
adjustments in one’s daily life can be very beneficial
in treating incontinence. In addition, catching the
problem early and seeking a physical therapy
consultation are important steps toward treatment or
management of incontinence issues.
Physical therapists report that the most difficult
issues to conquer with patients are embarrassment,
social isolation and the loss of independence that can
result from bladder control problems. Patients often
feel depressed and withdraw from social connections and
opportunities. They fear losing bladder control and
avoid spending time away from home. Hygienic
considerations such as body odor and skin irritations,
as well as having easy access to a bathroom, also impact
one’s comfort level outside of the home environment. It
is also worth noting that the person with incontinence
may lose their ability to smell the odor of urine. This
is a sensitive point for caregivers to realize as they
are providing care and encouraging good personal
Caregiving suggestions for oneself and the care receiver
include: Monitor fluid intake; focus on adequate water
intake vs. juices, carbonated drinks, caffeine and
alcohol. Cut back on fluids in the evening hours.
Exercise together and promote daily weight bearing
(standing) to maintain pelvic control muscles.
Use personal care absorbent products, bed and furniture
pads and plastic sheets.
Make sure an adequate supply of pads/sheets is available
to avoid additional strain and reduce laundering.