Difficulty Doing Kegels? Try an App

Most of my female patients with urinary incontinence (UI), overactive bladder and pelvic organ prolapse (POP) tell me they have been doing “Kegels for years and they just don’t work.”  But it is a fact that women find it difficult to perform a pelvic floor muscle contraction as most do not have an awareness of the pelvic floor muscle.  That is why in my practice, I have found biofeedback-assisted pelvic floor muscle training to be an important part of the treatment (Newman & Wein 2013, Newman 2014).  Other clinicians agree.

Two recent articles in Urologic Nursing discuss the effective use of pelvic floor biofeedback via a new product, a smart phone app, the PeriCoach, for treatment of stress UI (Starr) and POP (Shelly).  The PeriCoach signal is transmitted from a vaginal sensor via Bluetooth technology to the smart-phone app of the user thus providing real-time audio/visual biofeedback.  This device is available in the U.S.with a prescription. The PeriCoach app can give the user: reminders, encouragement messages coupled with biofeedback which may assist with compliance to the pelvic floor muscle exercises. 

These two articles report on 3 case studies showing the efficacy of this home device.  Two validated instruments were used to track outcomes, including the Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory and the Pelvic Floor Impact Questionnaire.  These articles provide detailed information about what was performed at each visit and how the patients were progressed though the training program.  It appears as though the PeriCoach combines new technology with real-time feedback that is can be used in the privacy of the patient’s home with clinician “coaching.”  A group of patients that may uniquely benefit from the PeriCoach are women with postpartum incontinence, a not uncommon group of women I see in my practice.  I am looking into the use of the PeriCoach in my practice as a rehabilitative technique for increasing pelvic floor muscle strength in certain patients.  

Written by:
Diane K. Newman, DNP, Adjunct Professor of Urology in Surgery, Research Investigator Senior and Co-Director, Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health

University of Pennsylvania, Division of Urology, 3400 Spruce Street, 3rd Floor Perelman Bldg, Philadelphia, PA. 19104

Newman, DK Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation using biofeedback. Urologic Nursing.  2014, 34(4): 193-202.
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Newman, DK., & Wein, AJ. Office-based behavioral therapy for management of incontinence and other pelvic disorders.  Urologic Clinics of North America. 2013, Nov;40(4):613-35. 

Shelly, B. Pelvic muscle exercising using a home trainer for pelvic muscle dysfunction: A case report. 2016; 36(2):82-87. 
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Starrr et al. Pelvic muscle biofeedback via a smart phone App for treatment of stress incontinence. 2016; 36(2):88-91.
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