A 1-month programme of physical therapy results in significant improvements in quality of life (QoL) among women with urinary incontinence, a clinical trial has found.
The study included 72 women with symptoms of stress urinary incontinence or mixed urinary incontinence. Their mean age was 53.1 years, 59.7% were postmenopausal and mean body mass index was 26.7 kg/m2.
The intervention comprised eight 1-hour sessions of physical therapy delivered over 4 weeks. Therapy included pelvic floor muscle training using vaginal cones and electrical stimulation together with behavioural training with advice on liquid intake, urination schedules and strategies to reduce leakage.
The women were assessed for QoL at baseline using the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Short Form (ICIQ-SF). Mean scores fell from 14.6 at baseline to 7.2 at the end of the physical therapy intervention, indicating a statistically significant improvement.
All measured aspects of QoL – leakage frequency, leakage amount and impact of incontinence on daily life – were positively impacted by physical therapy. Women’s pelvic floor muscle strength also increased significantly, from 1.1 to 2.1.
Finally, questionnaire responses revealed improvements in many aspects of incontinence, with substantial reductions in the number of women who constantly leaked urine or leaked for no apparent reason and 15 women stating that they were fully continent
“It could be hypothesized that since the women improved their bladder control and pelvic floor strength, they experienced fewer urinary symptoms,” remark Mariana Tirolli Rett (University Hospital/Federal University of Sergipe, Aracaju, Brazil) and colleagues in Urologia Internationalis.
“In addition, the functional training or ‘stress strategy’ that was used to contract their pelvic floor muscles in anticipation of or during a cough or sneeze may help women to prevent further leakages.”
The authors conclude: “Since incontinence is a prevalent condition among women, these results should be considered in clinical practice.”
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