What Is Pediatric Pelvic Health Physical Therapy?
The pelvis serves several important functions for kids. As the connection point between the child’s upper and lower body, it is central to how they move, breathe, and regulate bowel and bladder function.
Over 90% of kids by 4 years old have gained control over their bowel and bladder. For the remaining 10%, the child may not be ready and may continue to have challenging leaks from their bladder and or bowel during the day or night or both. This can be due to various causes; their sensory system is not fully developed, increased muscle weakness in their core (abdominals and pelvic floor muscles), the child is not ready intellectually, a poor diet with increased intake of bladder irritants, difficulty adjusting to changes, and many other reasons. The child often experiences embarrassment and anxiety, which can impact friendships, behaviors and the ability to participate in social events such as sports or sleepovers. If untreated, bowel and bladder dysfunction can persist into adulthood. Pediatric Pelvic Physical Therapists assist in retraining these systems and muscles to work properly to restore order and function.
There is also a strong link between constipation and urinary leaking in children. This occurs because there is limited space inside the pelvis, especially in a child, and the extra bulk in the rectum causes compression on the bladder.
In many cases, a child can be potty-trained for years and then all of a sudden have occasions of daytime incontinence or enuresis. This can be caused from a life changing event such as a new school, divorce, a new sibling or a move.
If your child is experiencing bladder or bowel troubles, you should know it is not on purpose. Punishing a child or making them feel embarrassed about their leaking is not the way to fix the problem. Children do not wet or soil their clothes or bedding on purpose and need to see a specialist who treats the pelvic floor, specifically a Pediatric Pelvic Health Physical Therapist.
Does Your Child Have Any Of These Symptoms?
- Daytime and or nighttime wetting
- Fecal leakage
- Frequent or infrequent urination
- Leaking urine with laughing or with sports/activities
- Pain with bowel movements/straining
- Pelvic pain and/or abdominal pain
- Rectal prolapse
- Wearing pull-ups after age 4
What Is The Pelvic Floor And Why Is It Important
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that are located in the pelvis. These important muscles provide support for the pelvic organs and core and help control urinary and bowel functions. The pelvic floor is like any other muscle in the body and can become tight, weak, go into spasm, or have poor muscle coordination. If these muscles are not working properly, those important functions are affected and can result in bowel or bladder issues or pelvic pain.
Following a Physical Therapy evaluation, the Pelvic Health Physical Therapist will work with the child and family to develop a child-centered plan incorporating behavior modifications, exercise and biofeedback as needed.
What To Expect: Treatment Sessions
A Pelvic Health Physical Therapist specializing in treating pelvic floor conditions will meet with you and your child. During the first session, a medical history, the child’s symptoms and family goals will be discussed. The consultation may include examination of your child’s range of motion, muscle flexibility, posture, movement patterns and pelvic and core stability. If needed, an external, non-invasive examination of the pelvic floor muscle will be completed to assess function of the pelvic muscles. This information that is gathered will help determine what treatment interventions to include in the plan to get your child better. Treatments are done one-to-one and are individualized in a private room to focus on the child and family concerns to improve quality of life.
- 15% of visits to gastrointestinal doctors are for bowel dysfunction
- 20% of pediatrician visits are for incontinence problems
- Bedwetting affects 15% of girls and 22% of boys over the age of 6
- Middle and High School athletes often experience urinary leakage during sports