Research about animated biofeedback and its effects on children who have elimination disorders appears in the December issue of the Journal of Urology. A report by Rueters can be accessed here, the PubMed abstract can be accessed here.
Dr. Kajbafzadeh of the Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran led a study that involved a total of 80 children randomly assigned with 40 subjects in either Group A or Group B. The average age group was 8-9 years with more than 75% of the children being female. Group A received 6-12 sessions of animated biofeedback in addition to behavioral modification while Group B received behavioral modification only. The animated biofeedback used a computer program with images of dolphins or monkeys to get children to activate and relax the pelvic floor muscles. This type of training could then help the children understand how to relax the muscles with emptying the bowels or bladder, and to have active, more healthy muscles in general. Behavioral modification included education in hydration, high fiber diet, and scheduled voiding. At baseline, and at 6 and 12 months, data was collected regarding dysfunctional voiding scores, constipation and fecal soiling episodes/week, and uroflowmetry.
The results were very positive, with vesicoureteral reflux resolving in 7 of 9 children. (Vesicoureteral reflux occurs when urine moves from the bladder towards the upper urinary tract instead of flowing out of the urethra. This can create urinary tract infections (UTI), kidney scarring, and in severe cases, kidney failure.) 10 of 14 children did not have a return of UTI within 1 year from the start of the study. Bladder capacity and voided volume did not significantly change. The authors report that PVR (post-void residual, or how much urine is left in the bladder after voiding) improved as did urine flow. Within 12 months after treatment, children who reported fecal soiling at baseline were symptom-free, and 17 of 25 who had constipation were symptom-free. The control group also had improvements in symptoms but these were not as significant as in the group receiving animated biofeedback therapy.
If you have a biofeedback unit (for surface EMG, or sEMG, one type of biofeedback) and know how to use it, you can apply this wonderful skill in the care of children who need your help. Many of the computer programs do have animations included in the software. If you would like to learn more about treating children who have bowel and bladder dysfunction, the Institute offers a course in pediatric pelvic rehabilitation with faculty member Dawn Sandalcidi. The next course is scheduled in May in Texas. Click here to see more information about the class.