Why is pediatric pelvic floor physical therapy important?
Per Juliana Remer PT DPT, Potty training is often a challenging time for parents and kids. Most kids during this period will experience wetting or soiling episodes during the years of potty training. However, by the age of six, the majority of children have full control of their bowel and bladder function. Yet, an estimated 20% of pediatric visits are for concerns regarding bladder and bowel problems. Also, according to the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD), 10-25% of children visiting a pediatric gastroenterologist are complaining of constipation or encopresis (bowel leakage).
This can be a very frustrating for both the parents and the children, but it’s important to know that help is available. An emerging, safe, and effective treatment for these children is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy.
What are common issues with pelvic floor dysfunction in children?
Nighttime bedwetting(nocturnal enuresis)
Stress urinary incontinence
Urinary retention (vesicoureteral reflux)
Fecal incontinence (encopresis)
Abnormal bloating (abdominophrenic dyssynergia)
The pediatric gastroenterologists or pediatric urologists will first perform tests to rule out infections, congenital issues, central nervous system or endocrine causes of voiding dysfunction. If it has been determined that there is a sensory and muscular component that is contributing to a child’s bowel and/or bladder problems, then physical therapy can definitely help.
What should I expect with Pediatric Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Each appointment will be in a private room with the parent or guardian present. Successful treatment really relies on the collaborative team of the MD, the parents, the PT and of course the child.
Treatment will include:
Education on how the bowel and bladder works
Use of a bowel and bladder diary
Pelvic floor education using biofeedback
Biofeedback is a tool to help the children understand and learn how to the pelvic floor muscles function. External electrodes are used and connected to a screen with traditional or more kid friendly graphics.
Breathing techniques and exercises
Manual therapy (belly massages, myofascial techniques)
Nothing will be painful and your child’s comfort and understanding is integral
It is important for the child and the family to know that these bowel and bladder problems are not his or her fault. Treatment is positive and compassionate and gives the child confidence to progress and succeed.
Information above provided by Juliana Remer PT DPT