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Therapeutic Chair Treats Urinary Incontinence

If you suffer from urinary incontinence, you know how embarrassing and disruptive it can be. There are a number of treatments, but one in particular is drawing interest, as CBS2’s Paul Moniz reports.

27 year old Karen Solomansen is joyous about being a new mom. But, like many women, after giving birth she received an unpleasant surprise: loss of bladder control.

Karen suffers from stress incontinence. It occurs after childbirth and menopause when pelvic muscles supporting the bladder lose tone, resulting in a so-called dropped bladder.

Stress incontinence affects some 20 million Americans, mostly women.

But Dr. Robert Salant, an urologist at Midtown Urology Associates in Manhattan, says that men can suffer too, "especially after radical prostate surgery for cancers where there can be urinary stress incontinence."

Dr. Salant is among the growing number of specialists using a special chair to improve symptoms, which force sufferers to wear bulky underpads. The chair is magnetic and the patients sit on it fully clothed while a control panel directs magnetic pulses at their pelvic floor muscles, stimulating them.

During the 20 minute sessions, patients hear a loud tapping but feel only the slightest touch. There is no radiation or electricity. It’s like going to the gym without any effort for the muscles being targeted. "What is occurring is muscles are contracting on a continual basis with relaxation in between to improve the tone of the muscles," explains Dr. Salant.

The chair is considered a promising advance because most medications for incontinence target urge incontinence, commonly known as overactive bladder. Stress incontinence, which is caused by a different mechanism, can respond to pelvic contractions known as keigel exercises, but only in mild cases.

Karen had two treatments a week on the chair for two months. She’s seen a huge change: "I’ve gone horseback riding, I play soccer twice a week and nothing!"

One study of the Neo Control Chair shows it stopped leakage completely in 52% of patients. 83% have seen major improvement.

However "the long term effects are not known because the treatment has not been around long enough to determine what the long term durability would be," says Dr. Salant.

So far, about 5000 U.S. patients have tried the chair. Dr Salant told Paul Moniz that in the years that he has been prescribing it, not one patient has returned with a relapse.

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