Electrical Muscle Stimulation (EMS) tackles the problem - not just the symptoms!
A medical device to assist pelvic floor exercise
The medical device that assists pelvic floor exercise is called InControl. It is manufactured in Australia by ActivLife Technologies. InControl is inexpensive, pain-free and hassle-free. Most people achieve significant results within 8 weeks - some even less; a little longer for very difficult cases.
Pelvic floor muscle strengthening must NOT BE ATTEMPTED with a TENS machine designed for pain management. Continuous contraction of muscle will deprive the tissue of blood supply and may cause damage.
ONLY ever use a device with SURGING EMS modes. (EMS stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation).
Who needs InControl?
The short answer is "anyone currently wearing incontinence pads or carrying a spare pair of undies wherever they go".
Our experience suggests that the typical profiles of those who use InControl include:
- Women who have damaged or weakened pelvic floor muscles during childbirth
- Men, post prostate surgery
- Men and women as they grow older and muscle strength deteriorates
- Anyone wishing to strengthen core muscles for improved core stability and prevention of lower back pain
- Men and women wishing to tighten pelvic floor muscles to enhance the romance
Incontinence is the silent disabler
You may think you are alone, because no-one speaks about it. But believe me, you are definitely not alone - approximately 5 million Australian men and women experience some degree of incontinence, and almost all are suffering in silence.
It is both easy and wise to address the issue as soon as it manifests itself. If you don't tackle the problem soon:
- It will not get better on its own - wishful thinking does not work
- It will get worse as you age
- Eventually, you will be mopping up the symptoms
- YES, the purchase and wearing of incontinence pants or pads
- This is expensive, uncomfortable, inconvenient and potentially embarrassing
- For the rest of your life!
And there is another major concern to mention. There is:
- A proven link between incontinence and urinary tract infection (UTI)
- A proven link between UTI in the elderly and fever induced delirium
- A proven link between delirium and dementia
Why is no-one talking about this?
- Physiotherapists know that weak pelvic floor muscles are a major cause of incontinence
- Primary care doctors know that untreated incontinence is a cause of UTI
- Geriatricians know that chronic UTI's in the elderly are a cause of delirium
- Neurologists know that delirium exacerbates dementia
Who is joining the dots?
Weak pelvic floor muscles
Weakened muscles of the pelvic floor are the number one major cause of incontinence in Australia. Weak muscles can eventually result in conditions such as:
- Stress incontinence
- Urge incontinence
- Mixed urinary incontinence
- Faecal incontinence
- Difficult to control flatulence
Weak muscles are not the only cause of incontinence. The condition can be caused by a range of other factors, some of which are serious health matters. If you are unsure of the underlying cause of your incontinence, we strongly advise that you speak to your doctor.
However, it is good news if the primary cause of your incontinence condition is diagnosed as weakened muscles because, with modest effort on your part, pelvic floor muscles can be re-strengthened.
Benefits of strong pelvic floor muscles include:
- Faecal control or improvement
- Urinary control or improvement
- Lifetime saving of the cost of incontinence pads
- Less likely to suffer a urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Return of social confidence
- Improved core strength, better balance and stability
- Improved posture and back support, reduced back pain
- Potential to increase moderate levels of physical activity
- Enhanced sexual performance and satisfaction
Manual pelvic floor exercise
Manual pelvic floor exercises (sometimes called Kegel Exercises) are a good place to start the strengthening process. If manual exercise works for you, stick with it and you will see results.
However not everyone is successful with manual exercise and there are a couple of very good reasons for this. The pelvic floor contains two types of muscle, either or both of which may need re-strengthening:
1. Skeletal or voluntary muscle
If the relevant neural pathways are healthy and functioning well, properly performed and frequently repeated manual exercise will strengthen skeletal muscles. However:
- When neural pathways are compromised or "lazy", they do not respond well to attempts at manual exercise
- You might be told you are not doing the exercise correctly; your brain can't seem to locate, isolate and activate the right muscles
2. Smooth or involuntary muscle
Involuntary muscle fibres cannot be exercised manually - they are controlled by the autonomic nervous system via parasympathetic fibres (the brain does not have control of them at all). This factor is critical in some cases of incontinence, because the pelvic floor contains several involuntary muscles:
- The internal anal sphincter
- The internal urethral sphincter (men only)
- The bladder detrusor muscle
In summary, manual pelvic floor exercises should be successful if:
- They are performed correctly and repeated regularly
- The motor nerves supplying voluntary muscle are healthy and strong
- There is no significant weakness in any of the involuntary muscles
Assisted pelvic floor exercise
If you know you have weak muscles and have tried manual pelvic floor exercise with little or no success, then assisted pelvic floor exercise is indicated.
Assistance is provided by way of a small, discreet medical device that delivers mild electrical stimulation to the motor nerves supplying voluntary muscle and to the parasympathetic fibres supplying involuntary muscle. With a little time commitment and no effort on your part, the device:
- By-passes the brain and applies direct electrical stimulation to the motor nerves
- By-passes the autonomic nervous system and applies direct electrical stimulation to sympathetic nerve fibres
While it is doing this, the repeated stimulation also helps to re-train the damaged motor nerve pathways. In time, you may find that you can perform the manual exercises again - just like when you were young.
Try assisted exercise when:
- You cannot voluntarily initiate manual exercise
- You cannot perform the manual exercise correctly
- The manual exercise program is too difficult or too expensive
- Your involuntary muscles need strengthening
InContinence page links
Avoid harmful complications
- Constant use of incontinence pads is associated with an increased risk of urinary tract infection (UTI)
- When elderly people suffer a UTI, they are prone to high fever and delirium
- Clinical research has revealed a causal link between delirium and dementia
The Continence Foundation
The Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) advocates on behalf of its members, i.e. incontinence physiotherapists and nurses.
They recommend regular attendance at a member's practice, to ensure that manual pelvic floor exercises are executed correct.
The CFA does not advocate on behalf of the general public.
In the public interest, they should mention:
- Possible limitations of manual exercise
- On-going cost of clinical appointments
- Relative benefits of assisted exercise
In fact, they don't even mention assisted exercise.