Donors Supply New Scanner to Help Benefis Therapists Improve Bladder Health

Benefis is making a difference for northcentral Montanans who are working for better bladder function. 

A teacher who has trained her bladder to empty on the school schedule might find herself leaking when she picks up a kindergartener. A man recovering from prostate cancer could need to retrain his bladder after a catheterization. An anxious teenager might feel constant urgency anchoring her to the bathroom because she’s not relaxing enough to empty all the way. A mom leaking after multiple pregnancies could find herself in need of pelvic floor therapy.

Pregnancy, aging, surgery, stress, military service, injuries, jobs requiring heavy lifting, and many other factors can influence the pelvic floor and bladder function. 

For these patients and many more, Benefis Foundation Greatest Need donors have equipped Benefis physical therapists with a bladder scanner. Verathon BladderScan measures the fluid levels in patients’ bladders. That data helps therapists and patients understand how their bladder is functioning and how to improve bladder control.

For example, a patient might think they have emptied their bladder, but it’s still half full. Conversely, they might think they don’t need to go yet, but their bladder is well over capacity – putting them in danger of leaking and even kidney and bladder infections. 

“It was very helpful to see that I can hold 200 ml of urine and know that I don’t have to run to the bathroom every 30 minutes to empty anymore,” one pelvic floor patient said after her scan.

The scanner uses similar technology as an ultrasound machine, but it’s specialized to zero in on the bladder. Using an ultrasound machine instead requires an ultrasound technician, who has to locate the bladder and do calculations to estimate the fluid level.

This scanner allows licensed therapy staff to perform the scan during a regular treatment session and drops the process from 30 minutes or more to five or less, with much more accurate results.

The scanner can be used with patients from newborns to those with the highest body weights. 

Anita Byrne, a physical therapist, said the tool is helpful in educating patients to improve their bladder function.  

"It can teach patients what the sensation of having a full or empty bladder should feel like and promote their ability to urinate at regular intervals," she said. "It also helps the treating therapist to have an objective tool to measure and determine progress with their patients."  

If you think you could benefit from pelvic floor PT, please click here for more information and to connect with our physical therapists.