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Incontinence & Overactive Bladder Health Center

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Biofeedback for Overactive Bladder?

Learning Biofeedback May Help Older Women Cope With Urge Incontinence
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

May 8, 2006 -- A new study shows that older women with overactive bladders (urge incontinenceincontinence) benefited from learning biofeedback techniques.

The benefits were strongest in women who had a history of depressiondepression, according to the study, which was presented in Chicago at the American Geriatrics Society's annual meeting.

Biofeedback uses measuring devices to help people become aware of and learn to control certain bodily functions. Some people with overactive bladder use biofeedback to gain control of their bladder and muscles used in urination.

Stasa Tadic, MD, and colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh's geriatrics division studied 26 women who were over 60 years old (average age: nearly 72) and had overactive bladders.

Before and After Biofeedback Training

First, the women kept bladder diaries for three days and took a survey about incontinence's psychological impact. The surveys showed "a significant psychological burden" from incontinence.

All of the women reported a similar number of overactive bladder episodes. The psychological burden of incontinence appeared greater in women with a history of depression.

Next, the women got a 12-week biofeedback course to help them cope with their incontinence. After that, the women kept bladder diaries for three more days and repeated the psychological survey.

The results: After 12 weeks of biofeedback therapy, all of the women had a similar drop in overactive bladder episodes and felt less burdened by their incontinence. Women with a history of depression had a greater improvement in their psychological burden from their urge incontinence, the study shows.

"Biofeedback effectively reduces urge incontinence frequency and psychological burden, regardless of depression," write Tadic and colleagues. They add that biofeedback therapy "may, in part, target psychological mechanisms involved in urge incontinence."

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