The Incontinence Program at Lancaster General Health Women & Babies Hospital is a behavioral therapy program designed to help individuals overcome incontinence through physical therapy techniques.
Program components include:
- Kegel Exercises – Kegel exercises are specially designed movements to strengthen or retrain pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Many people do not realize they are doing the exercises improperly. Physical therapists teach the proper method to perform these exercises, which can be done virtually anywhere at anytime.
- Education – The therapist educates patients on bladder and pelvic floor function. By using a voiding diary, patients learn how to modify bathroom visits and calm an overactive bladder.
- Biofeedback – Therapists place an electrode on the pelvic floor muscles and another on the stomach. The therapist can then determine if the right muscles are contracting during Kegel exercises. This provides real-time data and feedback during the session so patients learn the proper way to perform the strengthening exercise.
- Electrical stimulation – Therapists may need to administer brief and painless doses of electrical stimulation to the muscles in the lower pelvis to stimulate and strengthen the muscles that control the emptying of the bladder. This is only necessary when the patient is not strong enough to perform the exercise without help.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence describes the inability to hold urine in the bladder. More than 12 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence.
Different types include:
- Stress (weak sphincter or pelvic muscles)
- Overactive (bladder contracts uncontrollably)
- Overflow (bladder becomes so full it overflows)
- Mixed (combination of stress and overactive)
- Functional (disabilities or conditions make normal voiding difficult)
Who is at risk?
Urinary incontinence can affect both men and women. However, women are twice as likely as men to develop this condition. They frequently complain of incontinence as they age or following pregnancy.
What causes incontinence?
- Urinary tract or vaginal infections
- Medication side effects
- Weakness in specific muscles
- Blockage in the urethra
- Diseases and disorders relating to nerves and muscles
- Certain types of surgery
What are the signs?
- You strain the pelvic floor by laughing, sneezing, coughing, changing positions or walking.
- You can’t control the contractions of your bladder. Without warning, you may feel like you suddenly need to go.
- Your bladder overflows because it has become too full and you cannot empty it normally because of another medical condition.
- You may have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from getting to the bathroom in time.
- You leak urine while you sleep or have to use the bathroom more than 2-3 times per night.
What should I do if I think I may have urinary incontinence?
Your first step is to speak with your family physician or an urologist. Incontinence is a common, treatable condition. Medication and behavioral therapy are generally explored before surgery is considered.
- Eileen Herman, PT, CLT
- Erika Maust-Neiderer, PT, ATC
Lancaster General Health Women & Babies Hospital
690 Good Drive
Lancaster, PA 17601