Incontinence Rehabilitation Therapy

Prairie Lakes Healthcare System recognizes the need to address a common problem many people live with on a daily basis: incontinence. Specially trained therapists in the Prairie Lakes Rehabilitation Services department offer an Incontinence Rehabilitation Therapy Program for men, women and children who suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence means the involuntary loss of bladder control or bowel control. This is a common problem experienced by as many as 20 million males and females of all ages. It often seems difficult to manage and many believe that nothing can be done to correct it. Incontinence can lead to frustration, isolation, and depression.

The elderly often find themselves placed in nursing homes when family members are no longer able to cope with the problems created by incontinence. Other adults may find themselves homebound because incontinence has interfered with daily activities such as travel and work. In children, this problem often causes undue embarrassment and low self-esteem when the incontinence occurs at school or at play.

Types and Causes of Incontinence

Stress Incontinence – when a small amount of urine is released by everyday physical activities such as laughing, coughing, and sneezing that place an increased amount of pressure on the bladder. Causes may include pregnancy and childbirth, injury or trauma, surgery in the vagina or rectum, episiotomy or lack of exercise or use. 

Urge Incontinence – when the urge to urinate comes on so suddenly that it is often impossible to reach the bathroom in time.

Functional Incontinence – urine loss that occurs when a person cannot get to the bathroom in time. Can be caused by joint or muscle weakness, problems with mobility, confusion, dementia or delirium, environmental barriers (bathroom too far away), or psychological problems.

Fecal Incontinence – when impaired rectal sensation or muscle control results in the loss of stool or the staining of underclothes.

Help is Available

Incontinence is not a hopeless condition. In and of itself, incontinence is not a disease, but rather a symptom of an underlying condition that affects men, women, and children. Embarrassment, shame, and a mistaken sense of futility about management of the problem, can prevent people from seeking help.

At the Prairie Lakes Rehabilitation Department, therapists are trained to help people overcome incontinence by offering a non-surgical approach to treating incontinence. They advocate a self-help program of exercise and surface EMG, which has proven effective in helping many patients regain bladder and/or bowel control.

These exercises are essential in strengthening the muscles that support the internal organs and control the sphincter muscles. The pelvic floor muscles also assist in strengthening the back and core, stabilize the pelvis and assist in sexual function.  When weakened or stretched, the muscles can cause or contribute to the problem of incontinence. The exercises patients are taught are simple to do but they play a major role in helping overcome incontinence.

What is involved in the rehabilitation?

Using a computerized biofeedback device that assesses pelvic floor muscle activity, patients are shown how to do proper pelvic diaphragm exercises. The device provides a visual aid in understanding how to do the exercises correctly. The treatment may include keeping toileting diaries and strategies to re-training the bladder. Patients will be educated on diet and nutrition in order to avoid foods and drinks that may irritate the bladder. The home program may also include exercises to stretch and strengthen hip and core muscles. Electrical stimulation may also be used to improve awareness and aid in strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.

For more information about the Incontinence Rehabilitation Program, contact your doctor, or Prairie Lakes Rehabilitation Services at 605-882-7700.