Wearing a programmable wristwatch could help children manage their daytime bladder control problems.
When it comes to scheduled bathroom breaks, many children simply forget. So for the new study, Danish researchers looked at whether outfitting kids with a sports watch timed to go off at regular intervals would help.
They found that among 58 children who had not improved with standard urotherapy, adding the wristwatch allowed 60% to at least partly respond to therapy by the end of the 12-week treatment period.
In contrast, only 18% of children who stuck with standard therapy alone showed a partial response, and none became completely continent.
Past studies have suggested that about half of kids with urinary incontinence can become "dry" with behavioural changes that typically include altering fluid intake, learning proper "toilet posture," and scheduled bathroom breaks, noted Dr. Soren Hagstroem, the lead researcher on the current study.
They also suggest that "scheduled voiding is especially effective when the children have a timer watch to remind them to go," said Hagstroem.
The study, published in the Journal of Urology, included 60 children between 5 and 14 years old with daytime urinary incontinence at least once per week, along with overactive bladder. Overactive bladder - a bladder that frequently contracts, often suddenly - is believed to affect most children with urinary incontinence, Hagstroem noted.
The children spent four weeks on standard urotherapy, during which time two became completely continent during the day. The rest of the children were then randomly assigned to continue with standard urotherapy alone or to start wearing a sports watch programmed to remind them of their scheduled bathroom trips.
After 12 weeks, 60% of the 30 children in the wristwatch group had at least a partial improvement - including nine children who were completely "dry" based on their self-reports, one who reported at least a 90% reduction in wet days, and eight who were partial responders.
Moreover, the researchers found that seven months later, the nine children who were completely continent had remained so, and another seven had become continent. Six of those 16 children no longer needed to use their watches.
According to Hagstroem, most children with overactive bladder and urinary incontinence can be treated without medications or surgery, which may be offered as options when behavioural changes fail.
Hagstroem recommended that parents try the wristwatch tactic to boost the chances that behavioural changes will work - if their child is at least 5 years old and the incontinence is not caused by an anatomical abnormality or a neurological disorder (which is the case for only a small number of children, the researcher noted).
This study suggests that timed bathroom trips are a "crucial" part of urotherapy for daytime incontinence, writes Neveus. "Maybe we should recommend that the timer watch be included from the start and not as a later add-on in resistant cases." Would try this wristwatch?