Skip to content

    Children's Health

    Font Size

    Bedwetting Might Be Helped With Brain Biofeedback

    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

    Oct. 11, 2012 -- Biofeedback may help children and adults who wet the bed at night, a small new study shows.

    The study of 11 children and adults treated at the same clinic in Texas found that all had reduced brain activity in a region that’s thought to relate to bladder control.

    When they were trained to speed up their brain activity by playing a special video game, the nighttime bedwetting stopped.

    Several important cautions apply. The study was very small and needs to be repeated by other researchers before biofeedback can be considered a valid treatment.

    But the research does suggest that some bedwetting problems may be rooted and solved in the brain.

    “The brain is a learning machine. If you tell it what it needs to do to be normal and you give it a reward for doing it, it will make more fast activity and less slow activity,” says researcher Jonathan E. Walker, MD, a neurologist in private practice in Dallas, Texas.

    When Kids Don’t Stay Dry at Night

    Up to 9% of children older than age 5 continue to wet the bed at night, according to the National Association for Continence.

    It’s not clear why kids continue to wet the bed in every case. For some, studies show that problems with nighttime bladder control are genetic. In others, sleep problems are thought to play a role. And some kids wet the bed because of problems with chronic constipation.

    Whatever the reason, some children don’t outgrow the problem. Therapies used to treat bedwetting include medications that decrease urine production, alarms that wake people as they start to pee at night, and laxatives to treat constipation.

    For the neurofeedback therapy, Walker hooked each subject up to a machine that translated electrical activity in the mid-occipital region, which is at the back of the brain, into a video game.

    When brain waves moved slowly, so did a Pac-Man-like character on the screen. By speeding up their brain waves, people in the study made the Pac-Man move more quickly around a game board.

    After five to seven 20-minute sessions, which got progressively harder, each person in the study saw their bedwetting stop. The relief has lasted for more than a year.

    Patients in the study ranged in age from 4 to 70. Most were children, but a few were adults who had searched their whole lives for help with the problem.

    “They were very happy about it,” Walker says.

    The study is published in the journal Biofeedback.

    Today on WebMD

    child with red rash on cheeks
    What’s that rash?
    plate of fruit and veggies
    How healthy is your child’s diet?
    smiling baby
    Treating diarrhea, fever and more.
    Middle school band practice
    Understanding your child’s changing body.

    worried kid
    jennifer aniston
    Measles virus
    sick child

    Child with adhd
    rl with friends
    Child Coughing or Sneezing into Elbow