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September 06, 2017

Treating Incontinence

Treating Incontinence

Image courtesy Christopher Porter

Dear Doctor spoke to Dr. Ruth Maher: INNOVO® co-inventor, physiotherapist & pelvic floor expert.

What is a pelvic floor and how does it affect incontinence?

The pelvic floor is a key set of deep muscles situated in the pelvis. They run from the frontal pubic bone to the coccyx at the base of the spine. Shaped like a basin the pelvic floor holds the all-important pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel) in place and supports the bladder to provide control when you wee.

There are many changes across a women’s lifetime that can affect the pelvic area, such as pregnancy, childbirth and menopause. Essentially, there is an inability for the pelvic floor muscles to withstand pressure within this area and this can lead to urinary leakage. It also affects very healthy and sporty women that are involved in high impact activities, such as Olympic athletes, runners, basketball players and gymnasts. One in three women are currently affected in the UK.

We are also seeing an increase in prevalence among men, largely following a prostatectomy, and this can be one of the hardest challenges for them to face in the recovery process.

What is innovotherapy?

Innovotherapy is a completely revolutionary and non-invasive therapy for treating bladder weakness. I’ve been working with an incredibly talented and passionate team to develop this over the last eight years, and it has literally changed lives.

Innovotherapy uses advanced, proven neuromuscular electrical stimulation to send targeted impulses via a set of conductive pads placed on your thighs and buttocks, to safely and effectively activate the muscles of the entire pelvic floor. It’s an unusual sensation, and something the user will typically get used to as the sessions progress. Unlike some devices on the market, innovotherapy recruits all the muscles so it feels like a very intense lift. With 180 full contractions completed per session, users can literally feel their entire pelvic floor muscles being activated without having to do anything at all, leaving no room for error.

As a clinician, I have seen the impact that pelvic floor weakness has on the lives of both men and women. It’s a huge quality of life issue, and sadly people are putting up with this unnecessarily; this is what led me to develop the therapy. Bladder weakness impacts their emotional health, psychological health and their relationships. Many can no longer engage in normal, everyday activities like vacuuming their house, picking up their children, going to the cinema to watch a funny movie and having sex with their partner.

In fact, over 63 percent of women with stress bladder weakness report coital incontinence (leakage during sex) which greatly impacts their relationships with their partners. Worry and anxiety over leakage literally take over their lives. As an expert, I know that there is a solution to pelvic floor weakness and I wanted to give these people their lives back. There is a method for gaining confidence and dignity back, and it is innovotherapy.

Who can benefit from innovotherapy?

Essentially, anyone suffering from bladder weakness—whether it be urge, stress or mixed—can benefit from innovotherapy. It is the only solution to treat all pelvic floor weakness. Innovotherapy is pain-free and users report transformative results, with 93 percent of users finding a significant improvement after four weeks and 86 percent of users being defined as completely dry after 12 weeks[1].

For those suffering from stress incontinence, innovotherapy will strengthen the pelvic floor. From those with urge incontinence, it will help calm the overactive bladder, and for those with mixed incontinence, innovotherapy will alternate the stress and urge treatment to both strengthen and calm. As with all treatments, there are some restrictions to use. For example innovotherpay should not be used by pregnant women or by those with certain medical conditions.

How does innovotherapy differ from probe-based treatments?

Traditional electrical stimulation devices including those for the pelvic floor which typically use an invasive vaginal or anal probe use a unidirectional current which flows between two electrodes consequently there is only one current path.  This topography leads to early onset of fatigue in the muscles since the same muscle fibres are being stimulated synchronously.

The technology utilised in innovotherapy uses several pairs of electrodes which allow for current paths to be directed in different configurations; this topography favours more forceful muscle contractions and minimizes muscle fatigue when compared to traditional probe based electrical stimulation. When comparing innovotherapy to traditional vaginally delivered stimulation for pelvic floor dysfunction, innovotherapy uses very large electrodes. This allows greater current to be delivered over a large stimulating surface area thus ensuring optimum recruitment of the target muscles (pelvic floor) and user comfort.

Does strengthening your pelvic floor have any other benefits?

Our pelvic floor muscles could be called our body’s biggest unsung heroes, as they are responsible for so much! A strong and healthy pelvic floor will do much more than just give you control over your bladder. It can help improve your posture and relieve back pain, which is often caused by a weakened core. Strengthening these muscles will increase overall core strength and support the back.

A strong core can also lead to a flatter tummy. For a truly strong core, we need to strengthen the muscles on the inside—this starts from the pelvic floor and lifts up into deep muscles that strengthen the spine and draw your tummy in.

It has also been suggested that those that can activate their pelvic floor will experience increased sexual satisfaction and more intense orgasms. Alternatively, those with a weakened or damaged pelvic floor may experience a loss in sensation.

Atlantic Therapeutics develops professional and consumer medical devices, related software, apps and connected health technologies to treat all types of incontinence, sexual health dysfunctions, and other associated disorders by strengthening muscles and modulating nerves of the pelvic floor.  INNOVO® from Atlantic Therapeutics is a unique, externally applied, patented CE device that delivers a safe, clinically effective and comfortable therapy to treat reversible clinical conditions associated with pelvic floor weakness in the comfort of the user’s own home. Learn more at: restorethefloor.com


[1] Soeder S, Tunn R. (2012) - Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES) of the Pelvic Floor Muscles using a Non-Invasive Surface Device in the Treatment of Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI); A Pilot Study. IUGA Poster Presentation Conference, Dublin, Ireland (2013)