It’s an embarrassing condition that plagues millions of people young and old. Urge incontinence leaves people with an uncontrollable need to use the rest room.
For seven years, Peggy Popper lived with a humbling condition. Urge incontinence left her unable to control her bladder. She found herself running to the bathroom.
“All the time. I had a few misadventures with it. So I had to stay close to home,” says Popper.
It’s estimated at least 17 million people share her pain and her condition – a voiding dysfunction, or overactive bladder.
“If you’re leaking and you’re having to wear Depends or having to go to the bathroom every hour to hour and a half or two hours, you don’t really have a lifestyle. What we’re trying to get back is people; we basically give them back their social life,” says Dr. Mark Mintz, a urologist on the medical staff of Lee Memorial Health System.
When lifestyle changes or medication don’t work, patients may benefit from interstem therapy. It uses a medical device to provide neuro-stimulation to tame the overactive bladder.
The device is smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s implanted on upper backside of the hip where it stimulates the nerves that control the bladder.
“I call it the pacemaker, but they call it a generator or stimulator to the area. It basically sends a pulsation though the wire. It’s almost like telling the nerve to be quiet,” says Dr. Mintz.
A hair-like wire touches the nerve; it’s regulated by the generator. The device runs on a battery that lasts five to eight years, at which time doctors will reopen the site and replace the cell. A price Peggy is willing to pay to take control of her bladder.
“I would say that since I’ve had it put in, it goes on my time,” says Popper.
“That’s the whole idea. They don’t have to worry about whether they’ve got a leak or are going to have an accident. That’s a game-changer for a lot of people,” says Dr. Mintz.