Strategies to Prevent Incontinence

Our active readers and viewers are quite familiar with our regular science updates, keeping you well-informed.  That’s something that we’re proud and honored to do.

The subject of Physical Therapy assisting some men to overcome incontinence AFTER they’ve had prostate surgery is quite familiar.  But what’s not so familiar is this:

The subject of Physical Therapy PRIOR TO prostate surgery.  And what we keep hearing is some really great news – that researchers are reporting “positive influence” with preoperative physical therapy procedures!

Let’s back up for just a moment…  Prostate surgery is much like many surgical procedures – there are possible side effects and complications.  Due to the prostate’s location and anatomical components, the 2 worst side effects are incontinence and erectile dysfunction.  While it’s common for men to experience some leaking for a few weeks post-surgery while tissues heal, some men can experience incontinence-related symptoms for many months – or for a lifetime post-surgery.

Our pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles located at the base of the pelvis, and those muscles help control sexual, urinary and bowel function.  If the pelvic floor muscles are weak, they can’t squeeze tightly, or contract fast enough around the urethra (such as a sudden sneeze), resulting in leaking.

Some men may experience leaking only with coughing, laughing or lifting weight.  Others may experience constant dribbling throughout the day and/or night, with increased leakage during physical activity.

Most prostate surgery patients are undergoing a different protocol at The Elliott Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire.  That’s where patients are undergoing preoperative evaluations and instructions by physical therapists.  Clinical Specialist / Physical Therapist Lynne Assad states “The urologists at our facility are aware that we provide this service…  It’s part of the protocol that is followed in the urology center.”

It begins with a preoperative assessment where they analyze and measure each patient’s pelvic floor muscle strength.  Then they begin a program of Kegel strengthening exercises to improve muscle function prior to surgery.

Assad goes on – “I think that Physical Therapists and nurses dealing with incontinence after surgery also have an opportunity to positively influence the patients preoperatively.  In terms of the psychological aspect, particularly, I have found that the value of the surgical evaluation and treatment is significantly helpful.  It reduces the unknown and ultimately minimizes the depression and fear that comes from a patient suddenly having total loss of urinary control without understanding why.”

This makes complete sense!  And on 2 levels – physically and emotionally.  We know from study after study that many men have great success overcoming incontinence by regaining strength in their pelvic floor muscles.  I said many – not all.

Here’s the critical point on the physical level:  Why not get started on those pelvic floor muscles BEFORE surgery?!  Something to seriously consider…

And this makes sense on the emotional level as well.  Think about it…  Did anyone talk to you about incontinence prior to your prostate surgery?  Most men tell us that no one said a thing.  They had NO IDEA that their surgery could cause incontinence!

By having preoperative meetings with a team of Physical Therapists and nurses, the communication begins BEFORE surgery, opening the door for patients to do further research and discovery, and doing a much better job of preparing.

As we’ve said, over and over again – it’s not just the PHYSICAL aspects of incontinence.  It’s the societal and emotional issues as well…  The urological team at The Elliott Hospital is doing it right, and we applaud their attitudes, efforts and protocol!

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