Pelvic floor muscle training: Novel versus traditional remote rehabilitation methods. A systematic review and meta-analysis on their effectiveness for women with urinary incontinence.

To investigate the effectiveness of supervised remote rehabilitation programs comprising novel methods of pelvic floor muscle (PFM) training for women with urinary incontinence (UI).

A systematic review and meta-analysis including randomized controlled trials (RCTs), involving novel supervised PFM rehabilitation programs as intervention groups (e.

g., mobile applications programs, web-based programs, vaginal devices) versus more traditional PFM exercise groups (acting as control); both sets of groups being offered remotely.

Data have been searched and retrieved from the electronic databases of Medline, PUBMED, and PEDro using relevant key words and MeSH terms. All included study data were handled as reported in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions and the evaluation of their quality was undertaken utilizing the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool 2 (RoB2) for RCTs. The included RCTs, involved adult women with stress UI (SUI) or mixed urinary incontinence, where SUI were the most predominant symptoms. Exclusion criteria involved pregnant women or up to 6-month postpartum, systemic diseases and malignancies, major gynecological surgeries or gynecological problems, neurological dysfunction or mental impairments. The searched outcomes included subjective and objective improvements of SUI and exercise adherence in PFM exercises. Meta-analysis was conducted and included studies pulled by the same outcome measure.

The systematic review included 8 RCTs with 977 participants. Novel rehabilitation programs included mobile applications (1 study), web-based programs (1 study) and vaginal devices (6 studies) versus more traditional remote PFM training, involving home-based PFM exercise programs (8 studies). Estimated quality with Cochrane's RoB2, presented the 80% of the included studies as "some concerns" and the 20% as "high risk." Meta-analysis included 3 studies with no heterogeneity (I2  = 0) across them. Weak-evidenced results presented home PFM training equally effective with novel PFM training methods (mean difference: 0.13, 95% confidence interval: -0.47, 0.73), with small total effect size (0.43).

Novel PFM rehabilitation programs presented as effective (but not superior) to traditional ones in women with SUI, both offered remotely. However, individual parameters of novel remote rehabilitation including supervision by the health professional, remains in question and larger RCTs are required. Connection between devices and applications in combination with real-time synchronous communication between patient and clinician during treatment is challenged for further research across novel rehabilitation programs.

Neurourology and urodynamics. 2023 Feb 18 [Epub ahead of print]

Dimitra Tania Papanikolaou, Sofia Lampropoulou, Konstantinos Giannitsas, Anastasia Skoura, Konstantinos Fousekis, Evdokia Billis

Laboratory of Clinical Physiotherapy and Research, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Patras, Patras, Greece., Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Patras, Patras, Greece., Department of Urology, Medical School, University of Patras, Patras, Greece.