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Pelvic Floor Exercises Help Older Women Manage Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is a frustrating — and often embarrassing — problem for millions of older women, many of whom have weakened muscles supporting the bladder related to past pregnancies, vaginal births and surgeries, among other causes. 

"Not knowing when and where you might have an accident can affect everything from exercise to socializing," says physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist Sheila Dugan, MD, co-director of the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health at Rush University Medical Center.

To help, Dugan and colleagues at two other institutions conducted a study to evaluate the value of pelvic floor exercises combined with pelvic health education in women between the ages of 67 and 95. The study group had six weeks of twice weekly educational sessions on basic bladder and pelvic health and a supervised exercise program in which they focused on identifying, isolating and strengthening muscles that support the pelvic area. The control group received one educational session and book but no training in pelvic exercises.

Eighty-three percent of the women in the pelvic-exercises-plus-education group had statistically significant improvements with urinary incontinence that were not found in the other group. In addition to decreased frequency of urination and urine leakage, many women reported less urgency during nighttime hours and increased self-confidence.

Rush Ranks Among Top Five Academic Medical Centers

The University HealthSystem Consortium has ranked Rush University Medical Center among the top five academic medical centers in the country for the third consecutive year in its annual quality and accountability study. Only one other medical center besides Rush has ranked as a top performer every year since the study’s inception in 2005. In addition, Rush attained a perfect score in the equity of care category for the fifth straight year. This ranking measures whether patients receive the same high-quality care and have the same outcomes regardless of their race, gender or socioeconomic status.

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