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Biofeedback

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback uses electrodes to gather information on involuntary body processes such as heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, perspiration, skin temperature, and muscle tension. That information is displayed on a monitor both you and your doctor are watching, and with your physician’s guidance you use that feedback to gain better control over your body's functions with physical and mental exercises to control the muscle function. Biofeedback has proven helpful in addressing many conditions, among them urinary incontinence.

Biofeedback is used to treat incontinence in several ways. Incontinence can occur if those muscles are too weak to properly control bladder function or are not responding properly. This therapy can help people with stress incontinence, in which the bladder leaks because the muscles cannot withstand the stress of actions like sneezing, coughing, laughing, or lifting heavy objects, by training you to better read your body’s signals, and by strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback also is helpful in addressing urge incontinence, in which people regularly experience the strong and sudden need to urinate, by helping you to control the bladder muscles which constrict to cause the urge.

Learning biofeedback requires several sessions in our office. There may be as many as 12 sessions necessary to achieve musculature control, but, with practice, many people may be able to learn to influence their muscle tension or blood flow without the help of the feedback monitor. The benefits of using biofeedback are many. The procedure is non-invasive, inexpensive, versatile, low risk and encourages independence. It also provides objective data for measurement.

Treatment:

Your treatment will be personalized to fit your needs, but a typical biofeedback program will consist of an initial evaluation, followed by weekly treatment sessions for several weeks, and then a decrease of frequency to one visit every two weeks throughout a six- to eight-visit duration plan. Within the first four weeks of pelvic floor rehabilitation, the changes reported by an individual are attributed to improved motor recruitment—the individual is identifying and using the desired muscles appropriately.

After six weeks of consistent strength training, the muscles will hypertrophy and the improved continence experienced by the individual is truly due to improved strength of the pelvic floor and accessory muscles. To attain optimal strength of the target muscles, the individual is expected to complete a minimum 30 repetitions of exercise.