Biofeedback

What is biofeedback? 

Biofeedback is a way to show your child how certain muscles work and can teach your child how to better control these muscles. Biofeedback doesn’t hurt. There are no shots or catheters. 

How can biofeedback help my child? 

We will use biofeedback to help your child learn to control pelvic floor muscles. These muscles have 2 jobs: 

  • to tighten and hold urine in the bladder while it is filling up 
  • to relax and let all the urine out at the right time. 

Think of these muscles as a door to the bladder. Some children have a hard time keeping the door closed, and some have problems opening the door wide enough. 

Biofeedback uses music and video games to help children learn how to use their pelvic floor muscles correctly. 

Who needs biofeedback? 

Biofeedback can help children with different types of problems. We suggest biofeedback for some children that have accidents (incontinence), urinary tract infections, or problems emptying the bladder.

Biofeedback can be helpful if your child has already worked a lot on a timed bathroom schedule and is still having problems. 

How do I help my child get ready for the biofeedback sessions? 

Your child should try to arrive with a full bladder. Have him or her drink 1 to 2 cups of water (or other non-carbonated drinks without caffeine) about an hour before your appointment. 

Dress your child in a long T-shirt for privacy. Girls can wear a skirt or dress. 

If you were asked to do a diary of bladder or bowel habits, please bring it with you. 

Make sure your child is not constipated. Constipation makes it very hard for children to play the biofeedback games. 

Give _____ capful(s) of polyethylene glycol (brand name: MiraLax) ____ time(s) a day for 3 days before your appointment. 

How is biofeedback done? 

At each visit, small stickers, called EMG pads, are placed by your child’s rectum. At some visits, we will also use 3 more stickers near the hip bone. These stickers measure muscle activity. They are connected by wires to a computer. The computer shows your child what the muscles are doing.

We will ask your child to urinate so we can see what the muscles are doing during urination. This is called a uroflow. 

When we play biofeedback games, your child learns to control those muscles. As your child does the biofeedback sessions, he or she should get better at controlling how the muscles work when your child urinates. 

How often are the sessions and how long will they last? 

You can expect to have at least 3 sessions, usually a few weeks apart. After 3 sessions, we will decide if your child should continue. Most children need less than 7 sessions. The first session will last about an hour. Follow-up appointments will be shorter. 

What can we do at home to help? 

Your child will have homework to do between sessions. We will discuss this with you at each visit. Everyone should work on the following: 

  • empty the bladder on a regular schedule, every 1½ to 2 hours 
  • take extra time in the bathroom 
  • have a good bowel movement everyday.