Physical therapy can help kiddos with toileting problems

young girl holding her stomach, physical therapy can help kiddos with toileting problems, bladder and bowel dysfunction, bedwetting, leaking urine, frequent urination, constipation

Bladder and bowel dysfunction (difficulty with urination and/or having a bowel movement) in children can be very distressing to families and especially the child.  It is not uncommon but is often dismissed as a stage or incurable problem. Inside your pelvis are muscles and tissues that work to create support for abdominal and pelvic organs and help control bowel and bladder activity. If those muscles are too tight, too weak, or are just not working correctly, they can cause these problems.

Bladder and bowel dysfunction in children can consist of bedwetting, leaking urine or frequent urination, constipation and other issues related to the pelvic floor. Understanding how these muscles work together can be taught through physical therapy.

Demonstrating a biofeedback program used for kids, physical therapist Brooke Darst Rice, who specializes in helping men, women and pediatric patients with pelvic health issues, explains, “It’s empowering for everyone, kiddos especially, to learn where their pelvic muscles are and what they do, and then to figure out how to use these muscles. We put these superficial electrodes on the musculature on the outside of their body and then have them squeeze that musculature and they can make shapes on the screen and know the muscle they are squeezing is being activated. Then we will have them stand, and hop, and throw a ball back and forth and try to maintain muscle contraction at that time to tell their body that it’s not time to void. And then the opposite – teach them to rest those muscles and engage abdominal muscles when it is time to void, to help that muscle coordination function.”

Typically, children are toilet trained by age 4 with only very occasional accidents. After age 4 childhood bowel and bladder dysfunction is considered a medical problem and, because of the embarrassing nature of the issue, can greatly affect the quality of life for the whole family. Physical therapy can help to retrain the pelvic floor muscles, improve voiding habits, and provide therapeutic exercises to increase confidence.

To make an appointment in Physical Therapy call 612-873-4377.

Brooke N Darst Rice, PT, DPT, CLT-LANA is a physical therapist at Hennepin Healthcare,  who specializes in pelvic health therapy in pediatrics and adults. Brooke practices at the Clinic & Specialty Center.

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