Bowel and bladder problems in children occur when the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) are not working together with the bladder and/or bowel, and the normal voiding or emptying reflexes can be disrupted. This can lead to a chronic abnormal pattern of elimination which does not allow the bladder or bowel to empty completely. Some children experience difficulty urinating or controlling their bladder function, frequent bladder infections, constipation, not urinating enough during the day, or sensing bladder fullness. Children may periodically have leakage during the day or wake up wet in the morning or both. This can be embarrassing and uncomfortable. If your child has experienced any of the above symptoms, they may have been seen by a physician or specialist, who is now recommending therapy to relax and retrain the pelvic floor muscles.

How Can Physical Therapy Help?

Some children do not completely empty their bladders and there is residual urine left in the bladder. This is called a PVR or Post Void Residual. One reason this can happen is if the pelvic floor muscles are not relaxed throughout the entire void. A Rehabilitative Ultrasound (RTUS) is used to look at the bladder and see if it has emptied completely. We call these "jelly belly's" and it is completely non-invasive. A sound head is placed over the lower abdomen and takes ultrasound pictures of the bladder to measure the volume inside. This tool helps assess progress to ensure the bladder is emptying completely as therapy progresses.

Therapy can help your child achieve dry days and nights!

Therapy can provide the tools your family needs to take control of your child's bladder and bowel functions.  Optimally, the bladder and pelvic floor muscles work opposite each other to successfully urinate. When the bladder muscle contracts or the bowels need to empty, the pelvic floor muscles relax. Your child will learn exercises to relax and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles at the appropriate time, void and empty completely, as well as to avoid urinary and/or bowel leakage.

A specific home program will be developed for your child. Using the tools of education and exercise about the basic mechanisms that control the bladder and bowel, your child will be taught the correct way to utilize the pelvic floor muscles, which allows your child to control elimination. Therapy continues with your child learning correct postures for toileting, foods that may be irritating to the bladder and how to create a regular pattern of filling and emptying the bladder through a toileting schedule.


​Research shows that animated biofeedback helps teach children how to relax ​their pelvic muscles so they can empty their bowel and bladder completely.

Ladi-Seyedian 2015, Chang 2015, Hoebeke 2011

It also helps children who suffer from bedwetting who also have daytime urinary leakage and/or constipation.

Ebilogu 2016


  • pelvic floor muscle visual evaluation and treatment (no internal assessment)

  • a bladder schedule to improve bladder habits, education on bladder function and its relationship to the pelvic floor muscles

  • biofeedback of the pelvic floor muscles to relearn how to relax and improve muscle function

  • home exercise program

I feel like a weight that has been on me is lifted...I can do sleepovers now.  I feel more independent...

B.L., Age 11

Read more from patients with Pediatric Incontinence

How Does Biofeedback Work?

dawn pro group video.jpg

What Should We Expect From Therapy?

Pediatric Incontinence therapy at PT Specialists

Expect help!  Once you have scheduled your first appointment with us, we will need to gather important information to ensure we provide you with the best possible care. A patient information packet will need to be completed and provided to our staff when you arrive for your first appointment. The patient information packet will include a description of what to expect, as well as a patient history questionnaire. Your patient information packet can be mailed to your home or downloaded here.


Also, you will be asked to complete a bladder diary with your child for at least 3 days prior to the first appointment. This entails documenting amounts and type of food and fluids your child drinks and well as voiding patterns. This is very important information to have completed before your first visit. For more information visit Frequently Asked Questions.

Following the evaluation, an individualized treatment plan is developed. This plan is based on the evaluation findings, and input from your child’s medical provider. Your provider will receive a copy of the initial evaluation, progress notes and the discharge summary. 

Children usually need to be seen 1 hour the first visit and then every other week for 1 full hour. Patients are seen an average of 6-8 visits. At the first visit we will discuss with you and your child the previously completed questionnaires, the bladder log and the medical history. We will discuss the condition directly with your child while a parent or guardian is present. A treatment program is begun the first visit including child/family education.

Pediatric Incontinence specialist Dawn Sandalcidi

Dawn was highlighted in an article in PT in Motion.  Click here to read further about her extensive work with children and incontinence.  

Pediatric Incontinence specialist Dawn Sandalcidi