Ann Stanchina

Overactive Bladder No Match for Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

Techniques Offer Ann Stanchina New Twist on Strength Training and Lifestyle Change

Not happy with how an overactive bladder was disrupting her life both day and night, Ann Stanchina, 74, came to St. Elizabeth Healthcare Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy with a simple goal: “I wanted to play nine holes of golf without stopping to go to the bathroom.”

An avid golfer since age 9, Ann says she had backed off playing a bit, and her overactive bladder was even interfering with getting a good night’s sleep.

“The frequency was getting to be every hour in the day and every two hours at night,” Ann says. I wanted to play golf, and I needed a longer period of time before having to go to the bathroom. I disliked the notion of wearing pads, especially when it’s 95 degrees outside!”

She has achieved her goal multiple times since seeking help from St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s pelvic floor physical therapist Keri Sands, PT.

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A Different Kind of Strength Training

Ann learned about pelvic floor physical therapy while consulting with urogynecologist Susan Oakley, MD, about her bladder issues.

Dr. Oakley recommended some lifestyle changes, such as eliminating caffeine and watching her liquid intake, especially at night. She then referred Ann to the team of three pelvic floor physical therapists at St. Elizabeth Healthcare.

Keri Sands, PT, says, “Ann was very agreeable and compliant from day one, so I knew she would do well…and she did. We utilized a bladder training program, as well as pelvic floor muscle training to address her symptoms.”

She continues, “I do my best to make women feel at ease during their visits. I ask them to share what they’re comfortable sharing, and we progress slowly with assessment or treatment based on each patient’s comfort level.”

Sands has been a physical therapist for 20 years and gains great satisfaction from helping women deal with problems that often are embarrassing and disruptive to their quality of life. “Many women suffer in silence for many years, so it’s nice to offer them some relief, finally!”

A “Common-Sense Approach”

Ann admits she had chalked up her issues of urinary urgency to being “a major problem of women stricken with age. I didn’t like the inconvenience of wearing a pad. I thought I was doomed to have to do it for the rest of my life. But it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Sands first talked with Ann about avoiding or greatly limiting caffeine, soda and citrus drinks. All can irritate the bladder.

Ann comments, “I love tea and maybe a cup of coffee a day in late afternoon. I have switched to herbal, decaf teas and decaf coffee. When I do go ‘off the wagon,’ I know not to drink two cups or drink caffeine late at night.”

Sands coached Ann in a technique called timed voiding to control nerve signals that create the urge to urinate. Exercises to strengthen pelvic floor muscles also helped.

“It’s a common-sense approach,” Ann says.

After her initial consultation and two more visits, Ann says she has everything under control. “If I’m paying attention, I don’t have issues at all. I’m greatly satisfied and happy that I can do the things I want to do. I have more freedom and more comfort. I don’t need a pad anymore.” She drove to Florida recently and had no problems.

As for her golf game, “It has improved my last three holes,” she says with humor. “Before, I’d get distracted thinking about whether I could make it to the clubhouse or a tree or a Porta Potty. If I get the urge now, I go into control mode with deep breathing and just go up and hit the ball!”

Ann encourages other women, “There’s no shame in having leakage. There’s help out there. Take advantage of it.”

Learn more about St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy program, or call (859) 212-5400.

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