A program combining pelvic floor muscle exercises with virtual-reality rehabilitation in the form of dancing proved to be an efficient and satisfying treatment in a small study of older women with mixed urinary incontinence.

The study focused on 24 women aged 65 years and older (mean age 70.5 years) with at least two weekly episodes of mixed urinary incontinence. The participants were evaluated twice before and once after a 12-week training program incorporating pelvic floor muscle exercises and virtual-reality rehabilitation.

In this initiative, a series of dance exercises were added to a physiotherapy program by means of a video-game console. The effort was designed to help the women strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.

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Chantale Dumoulin, PhD, of the School of Rehabilitation at University of Montreal in Quebec, and fellow investigators reported online ahead of print in Neurourology and Urodynamics that most study participants attended the weekly treatment sessions (91%), adhered to home exercise (92%), and completed the three evaluations (96%). Compliance was higher among these patients than among women receiving usual care.

Postintervention, the frequency and quantity of urine leakage decreased to a greater degree than seen in the usual-care group, and patient-reported symptoms and quality of life improved significantly. The majority of women (91%) said they were very satisfied with treatment.

As Dr. Dumoulin pointed out in a statement issued by the University of Montreal, compliance with the program is a key success factor, as more practice will lead to stronger pelvic floor muscles. “Our challenge was to motivate women to show up each week,” Dr. Dumoulin said. “We quickly learned that the dance component was the part that the women found most fun and didn’t want to miss.”

The dance period also served as a way for the women to exercise pelvic floor muscles that are traditionally static and to learn how to contract those muscles during daily activity to prevent urine leakage.