Dr Ruth M. Maher PT, PHD, DPT, MISCP
MISCP & Co-Inventor, INNOVO
Former sufferer of bladder leaks
Despite adverts telling us bladder leaks are normal – just a fact of life you can manage with pads – scientifically leaks can be fixed and not necessarily by having drastic surgery either.
Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects millions of people across the globe, it can have a significant and detrimental impact on quality of life. When Dr Ruth Maher, a physiotherapist originally from Dublin, found herself treating countless women (and men) experiencing bladder leakage, she knew that there must be a therapy that could restore the pelvic floor.
Having spent many years studying the benefits of electrical stimulation (NMES) for other conditions, Dr Maher perfected prototypes that would deliver the perfect dose of painless electrical impulses targeted to stimulate the pelvic floor.
The evidence soon spoke for itself and eventually became INNOVO therapy. Not only did Ruth discover that urinary leaks were reversible and treatable, but she also realised that a contributing factor with the pelvic floor was that most women didn’t know where to find it – or how to exercise it.
Providing better education on bladder weakness
For 54-year-old Kath Hamblett from Warrington, INNOVO has helped not just to treat her bladder leaks, but also provided a much needed education. She says, “As a busy mother-of-one, I put up with the bladder leaks for years, carrying an extra pad and hoping it would get better. But once I made the decision to lose weight and go to the gym more, everything seemed to get worse. I chose the INNOVO therapy because it was non-invasive, and I haven’t looked back.” Not only was the product easy to use for Kath “I could use it while watching the TV and no-one would know!” but the stimulation meant that she now knew exactly what exercising her pelvic floor felt like.
Within weeks Kath felt a big difference, and now only uses the shorts once or twice a month. “I now remember to exercise my pelvic floor while washing the dishes or waiting for the kettle to boil” she says. What’s more, Kath’s experience has re-taught her body to empty her bladder when full, not just when passing a toilet.
Treating bladder weakness causes
It’s comments like these that delight Dr Maher, now based in Georgia, America, as a professor for PCOM. She says, “I’d always viewed urinary leakage as an invisible ball and chain for a woman. It was the silent condition only ever joked about – but living with urinary leakage or urgency is never a joke. Women have to make their lives smaller to fit the condition, like being close to a toilet or limiting travel and exercise.” Bladder leaks currently affect 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men, with the supermarket aisles packed full of pads and other incontinence products, there’s often a reluctance or unawareness that it is possible to treat the cause.
I’d always viewed urinary leakage as a ball and chain for a woman. It was the silent condition only ever joked about – but living with urinary leakage or urgency is never a joke.
Dr Maher adds, “With studies showing that up to 50% of women have difficulty performing pelvic floor exercises or cannot perform pelvic floor exercises correctly, there’s a huge need to talk to each other, educate and try new products. Because urinary incontinence isn’t something you need to live with.” Dr Maher wants to reassure women and men that their lives can improve. “Whether it’s picking something up, not going to the gym or having sex, bladder leaks shouldn’t have to limit your life.”
For Kath, they have certainly helped her regain control of both her bladder – and her body. “I can now enjoy a gym session or sprint without leaking,” she says. “It had got to the point where I asked myself ‘do I really need to carry a pad everywhere with me in my 40’s?’ Now my pelvic floor is so much more improved and I tell all my friends about it. Finally, it’s not a subject I’m embarrassed about anymore.”