Biofeedback therapy concentrates on the pelvic floor muscles, which are vital for successful bladder function. The pelvic floor muscles are at the base of the pelvis, below the bladder and are shaped like a ‘sling’.
Both males and females have pelvic floor muscles. If the muscles are weak, the bladder may leak urine in between wees. If they are too tight, it may be difficult to wee so the bladder retains some urine after weeing.
Biofeedback therapy has been proven to be effective in the treatment of urinary incontinence in a number of research studies. It can be used to teach children to control and strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and how to relax them properly.
What happens during a training session?
Most children have a two-day stay at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), with biofeedback therapy in the morning and afternoon. When you arrive at the Urodynamics Unit, our clinic assistant will explain about biofeedback and what it involves. They will then take you to the biofeedback room and show your child the equipment for the test.
Biofeedback works by measuring and displaying body functions on a computer screen, so our clinic assistant will fix two sticky electrode pads either side of your child’s anus, another set on the abdomen and a final set on the bony part of the hip. These are connected to the computer using long wires and measure your child’s pelvic floor muscle function.
Once the electrodes are in place, our clinic assistant will explain how to control an animated character on the computer screen. It can be quite difficult to work out which muscles to squeeze initially – the electrodes on the abdomen will help us see if your child is using these muscles rather than the pelvic floor muscles. Each session lasts up to 90 minutes.
Practice makes perfect
As well as the training sessions, we will give your child pelvic floor exercises to practise at home. Like all muscles, the pelvic floor muscles need regular exercising to stay strong – they quickly weaken if they are not exercised. Your child will find the exercises much easier to complete if you are supportive and encouraging – perhaps do the exercises together every day. Remember that you can do pelvic floor exercises wherever and whenever convenient – no one will know you are doing them.
How many sessions will my child have?
Most children have six sessions of biofeedback therapy, but others have fewer or more. We will discuss how many sessions your child might need at the end of the first session.