Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy

Pediatric pelvic floor therapy is a type of physical therapy tailored to children suffering from issues of incontinence. If your child has been struggling with symptoms such as urine leakage during the day or bedwetting at night, an inability to detect when their bladder is full, constipation, frequent UTIs, trouble urinating or controlling bladder function, or not urinating frequently enough each day, he or she could be a good candidate for pediatric pelvic floor therapy. These types of problems can be frustrating and embarrassing for both the parent and the child. Don’t suffer in shame any longer, consider if pediatric pelvic floor therapy could be the right choice to improve the health and well-being of your child.

What Causes Incontinence in Children?

A common culprit of pediatric bowel and bladder issues results from a dysfunction in the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles are unable to function properly in coordination with the bowels/bladder, the result is the inability to complete normal voiding or bowel emptying reflexes. Once this becomes habitual, a new normal is created for your elimination systems, resulting in incomplete bowel/bladder emptying.

How Can Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy Help?

If your child is struggling with issues of incontinence or suffers from other symptoms discussed above, a pediatric pelvic floor therapist may be able to help resolve the underlying condition. These compassionate and skilled medical professionals have the skills and experience to help your child’s muscles correct themselves so proper functioning can be regained. Pelvic floor therapy works by relaxing the muscles that control bowel and bladder functions and redirecting/strengthening them, so they can function normally once more.

Will Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy Be a Significant Time Commitment?

One of the biggest barriers to healing is time. Most of us never seem to have enough of this precious commodity. If you believe your child could benefit from treatment but are unsure if you can fit therapy into your already busy schedule, you will be thrilled to learn that this treatment is time-sensitive.

Generally speaking, children will be able to master daytime dryness in as little as 6-8 visits. However, if your child has more severe incontinence, including nighttime accidents, additional sessions may be required to master nighttime dryness. In the beginning, it is normal for children to be seen bi-weekly, with visits spread out further (3-4 weeks) as therapy progresses.

How Does Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy Work?

There are several different therapies/tools used to address incontinence that may be used individually or in conjunction with one another. These include neuromuscular re-education, a regular toileting schedule, ultrasound, cold laser, rehabilitative ultrasound, rehabilitative ultrasound to heal core muscles and promote stability, and a visual pelvic floor muscle evaluation. Depending upon the unique factors/needs involved in your child’s case, a treatment plan will be tailored specifically to them.

Your child’s therapy plan can help restore hope and healing to your child and their body’s functioning. You can continue to help your child on the road to healing by encouraging them to complete their exercises, as well as assisting with posturing, food avoidance, and a toileting schedule. Diligence to working hard during therapy and at home can restore normal bladder and bowel functioning relatively quickly.

Additional Considerations

Many pediatric patients come seeking treatment due to a condition known as PVR or Post Void Residual. In layman’s terms, this means that the bladder cannot be fully emptied during voiding, leaving old urine left behind. This condition results from a failure of the pelvic floor muscles to properly relax. However, this condition can be easily mitigated using the treatment tools discussed previously.

Typically, the first step in healing is a proper diagnosis so a proper treatment plan can be developed. If your child exhibits symptoms consistent with PVR, treatment will need to start with real-time ultrasound to determine if improper emptying is truly the problem. The good news is the diagnosis can be determined without utilizing invasive testing. Instead, the ultrasound head will be gently maneuvered over the exterior of your child’s abdomen. The technician will take pictures of the bladder that will reveal whether or not residual urine has been left behind. It will be necessary to repeat this test frequently during the process of therapy to determine if the problem is improving.

Ultimately, the goal of therapy is for the child’s muscles to begin working properly once more. When the child’s bladder and pelvic floor muscles are working correctly, they rely on each other. For example, a healthy pelvic floor will relax when the bladder or bowel muscles contract for excrement. Even if your child has dealt with pelvic floor issues for years, with the right treatment plan, they can retrain their muscles to relax through the use of tailored exercises. Thus, in the future, they will be able to fully empty their bladder and/or bowels, effectively mitigating the related issues of incontinence.  

Why Is Pediatric Pelvic Floor Therapy So Important Anyhow?

Restoring proper bladder and bowel functioning is important for a variety of reasons, including your child’s physical, mental, and emotional health. For children that have been dealing with the impact of incontinence issues for some time, shame, fear, and poor physical health can be the result. Not to mention, recurrent infections are bad for the body; thus, when a child is plagued with recurrent bladder infections, it can take a toll on their health. Moreover, frequent exposure to the antibiotics used to treat UTIs can cause a range of unpleasant side effects.

The impact of accidents, leaking, and bedwetting can also have a tremendous negative impact on the mental and emotional health of the child. Imagine being afraid to stay overnight at a friend’s house for fear of wetting the bed or having to avoid playing a sport you enjoy because you might accidentally begin leaking during a game. Over time, the stress of incontinence can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.

Despite this, there is hope for pediatric incontinence. No child should have to continue to suffer from the negative impacts that result from pelvic floor dysfunction. Help your child get his or her life back, by scheduling an appointment with an experienced pediatric pelvic floor specialist today! With the right therapist and an individualized treatment plan, your child can get his or her confidence back, improve function, develop continence, relieve leakage, become educated, and gain or regain the ability to participate in normal activities without fear!