Research: Dance Games Can Help Combat Urinary Incontinence

Video games – particularly those that promote activities such as dancing (think Dance, Dance Revolution, or any Zumba game) can help women of all ages fight against incontinence, according to new research coming out of Canada and Switzerland. According to a study published in Neurology and Urodynamics conducted by Canadian and Swiss researchers, women suffering from urinary incontinence that added a regular regimen of dance exercises (using popular interactive video games) saw an improvement in pelvic floor muscle strength. This is important because building those muscles in turn helped improve bladder control among test subjects.

One in four women of all ages suffer from urinary incontinence. The condition grows more common in women when they reach 70- to 80-years-old.

"Our challenge was to motivate women to show up each week,” notes researcher Chantal Dumoulin. "We quickly learned that the dance component was the part that the women found most fun and didn’t want to miss. The socialization aspect shouldn’t be ignored either: they laughed a lot as they danced!"

In the study, researchers added a series of dance exercises using an unnamed video game to a physiotherapy program for pelvic floor muscles. Twenty-four subjects participated in the study, and all of them saw a "greater decrease in daily urine leakage than for the usual program (improvement in effectiveness) as well as no dropouts from the program and a higher weekly participation rate (increase in compliance)."

While the video game might not be central to the study, the cost-effectiveness of it compared to other methods (such as going to a Zumba class more than once a week) is a major factor.

The study was conducted by Dr. Chantal Dumoulin, PhD, Canada Research Chair in Urogynaecological Health and Aging, a researcher at the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal, and an associate professor in the Physiotherapy Program of the Rehabilitation School at Université de Montréal; her master's student, Miss Valérie Elliott; and Dr Eling D. de Bruin, Ph.D., researcher at the department of Health Sciences and Technology, Swiss federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland. The results of their feasibility study were published in Neurourology and Urodynamics.

You can learn more about the study here.

"Dancing" photo © 2014 All rights reserved, used with permission.

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