Meditate Your Way to Better Bladder Health

News Archive April 28, 2009

Meditate Your Way to Better Bladder Health

Team of Loyola researchers using cognitive therapy to manage female incontinence
MAYWOOD, Ill. - After nine years of suffering in silence and living in fear of leaving the house, Anna Raisor, 53, turned to physicians at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) for alternative measures to treat the embarrassing side effects of incontinence. LUHS physicians enrolled Raisor in a clinical trial using cognitive therapy to manage her overactive bladder. Cognitive therapy employs deep-breathing and guided-imagery exercises that train the brain to control the bladder without medication or surgery. Findings from this study, which were presented today at the American Urological Association's Annual Meeting in Chicago, Ill, revealed that cognitive therapy is an effective management strategy for urge incontinence. These results also were published in the latest issue of the Journal of Urology. "The mind-body connection has proven to be particularly valuable for women suffering from incontinence," said study investigator Aaron Michelfelder, MD, vice chair, division of family medicine, Loyola University Health System, and associate professor, department of family medicine, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Cognitive therapy is effective with these women, because they are motivated to make a change and regain control over their body." Michelfelder's patients attend an initial office visit where he introduces them to cognitive therapy. They then listen to an audio recording with a series of relaxation and visualization exercises at home twice a day for two weeks. Patients track the number of incontinence episodes that they experience in a pre- and post-therapy diary. The majority of patients, including Raisor, experienced a substantial improvement in symptoms. "Before entering this clinical trial, I saturated seven to eight pads a day and was afraid to leave home as a result," said Raisor. "Today, I am 98 percent free of leakage. The therapy has allowed me to successfully recognize the link between my brain and bladder to manage my incontinence and remain virtually accident-free." The study evaluated a subset of 10 patients with a mean age of 62. Patients were eligible to participate in this study, if they had a diagnosis of overactive bladder (OAB), which is the sudden and unstoppable need to urinate. They also had to be stable on all OAB treatments for the past three months before entering the study. The data revealed that the average number of urge incontinence episodes per week decreased from 38 to 12. "Nearly one in four women suffers from a pelvic floor disorder, which includes incontinence," said study investigator Mary Pat FitzGerald, MD, urogynecologist, Loyola University Health System, and associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. "Cognitive therapy may play a vital role in a comprehensive approach to treating this disorder." Study investigators FitzGerald and fellow Shameem Abbasy, MD, are part of a team of LUHS urogynecologists who are combining the expertise of urologists and gynecologists to transform the way women with incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders are managed. Loyola University Health System's Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery Center was the first of its kind in greater Chicago. It is still one of the few centers in the country that offers a single location for the diagnosis and treatment of women with pelvic floor disorders. In addition to using cognitive therapy to treat incontinence, LUHS urogynecologists have been using a specialized robotic surgical system with positive outcomes for nearly two years. LUHS was one of the first groups in Chicago to offer this type of minimally invasive robotic surgery. To schedule an appointment with a LUHS physician, call (888) LUHS-888. ###
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.
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