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A Journal on Obstetrics and Gynecology

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Minerva Ginecologica 2004 August;56(4):353-70


language: English, Italian

Female urinary incontinence rehabilitation

Di Benedetto P.


Pelvic floor rehabilitation (PFR) is an important and recommended strategy for the treatment of many urogynecological disorders including urinary incontinence (UI). The recognised pioneer of PFR is the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel who, over 50 years ago, proposed pelvic floor muscle exercises (PFME) to prevent and/or treat female UI. Kegel's techniques were successfully used by others too, but as the years passed these techniques sank into unjustified oblivion. In the 1980s in Europe the medical world's interest in PFME techniques gained ground, contemporaneously with functional electrical stimulation (FES) and biofeedback (BFB). As a general rule, the least invasive and least dangerous procedure for the patient should be the first choice, and behavioural and rehabilitative techniques should be considered as the first line of therapy for UI. The behavioural approaches in women with UI and without cognitive deficits are tailored to the patient's underlying problem, such as bladder training or retraining (BR) for urge UI. BR has many variations but generally consists of education, scheduled voiding, and positive reinforcements. The rehabilitative approaches comprise BFB, FES, PFME, and vaginal cones (VC). BFB allows the subject to modify the unconscious physiological events, while FES is aimed at strengthening perineal awareness, increasing the tone and trophism of the pelvic floor, and inhibiting detrusor overactivity. PFME play an extremely important role in the conservative treatment of UI and overactive bladder, and many studies have demonstrated their effectiveness. Many authors have used the different methods for PFR in a heterogeneous manner: the best results were obtained when protocols requiring the contemporary use of 2 or more techniques were followed.

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