The technology of the medical field advances so fast that there are always exciting new alternatives to traditional medical approaches. Surgeons get to play with new toys all the time, but other specialties also see their fair share of innovative technology. Urologists have seen the development of minimally invasive procedures and the tech that makes it possible, and the Da Vinci Robot, and they are always excited to see new developments in their field. However, some pathologies are more complicated than what a cool robot or a new tool can do, and that’s what we’re looking at today.
Overactive bladder (OAB) is a pathology that is characterized by frequent urination, typically urgent, and often uncontrollable, leading to involuntary voiding of the bladder. Over the years, pharmacological, surgical, and even behavioral treatments have been developed to control this problem, but many patients have found no relief even after all of the available treatments have been exhausted. Biofeedback is also frequently used, a treatment in which a closed feedback loop trains the patient’s unconscious physiological processes using a visual, auditory, or tactile signal.
So, does it work?
A research study from the University of Pittsburgh’s Geriatrics Division examined 26 women ages 60 and older, all of whom had incontinence issues and OAB. After undergoing a 12-week biofeedback course designed to reduce the symptoms of their OAB, all of the women experienced a drop in episodes of incontinence, and reported feeling less burdened by their OAB. This seems like a very subjective way of evaluating the success of a treatment, but with over 33 million Americans suffering from overactive bladder, any promising treatment method is worth exploring!
If you’ve been wondering where Augmented Reality comes into play, look no further than this paragraph. AR is one method for providing the biofeedback stimulus, allowing the patient a personalized and precise treatment experience. AR improves communication between doctor and patient, allowing the patient to visualize the specific pelvic floor muscles they should be exercising in order to reduce their OAB symptoms. The muscles are visualized through a head mounted display, through a tablet, or through a holographic display, allowing patients to understand exactly what muscles they are working and to focus their energies on it with more specificity, which improves the overall efficacy of the treatment. Biofeedback is a complicated procedure, which you can view here,
but hopefully the integration of AR could make it a little easier for patients to wrap their heads around.
Augmented Reality has the potential to change the way biofeedback is performed. Patients will have a better understanding of their treatment, and will therefore be more able to focus on it. They will be able to see their procedure in real time in a more natural, intuitive visualization during the session. While this might be on the horizon still, we won’t be surprised when we see it in use within the next few years–and when we do, remember you heard it here at ARinMED first!
Leave your comments, questions, and suggestions in the comments section!
Category: Urology, Neurology, Physiotherapy, practice based apps.