Potty training brings a multitude of challenges even in the best of circumstances. However, when constipation, “holding”, and accidents complicate the process, it can be overwhelming for both the child and parents. The good news is, there’s help! A branch of pediatric physical therapy is now available and is devoted to helping parents and children through this process while successfully navigating the various complications that can arise.

By the age of six, most children have mastered control of bowel and bladder function. Still, pediatricians confirm that a large number of children continue to struggle well beyond this age with issues surrounding bowel and bladder function.

Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (also referred to as dysfunctional elimination) can result in recurrent urinary tract infections, enuresis (bladder leakage), encopresis (bowel leakage), constipation, abdominal bloating, pain, night time bedwetting, and can lead to embarrassment and/or social stigmas.

Pediatric gastroenterologists or pediatric urologists will complete testing to rule out infections, congenital abnormalities, and endocrine or central nervous system causes of dysfunctional elimination. If it is determined that sensory and muscular causes are the problem, your child may be referred for physical therapy for pelvic floor muscle training using biofeedback.

The ring of muscles surrounding the openings where bladder and bowel elimination occur can be weak and/or dysfunctional. Physical therapy can address this muscle dysfunction through biofeedback training for muscle activation or relaxation.

What to expect:

  • Children are seen for treatment in a private room with the parent or guardian present.
  • Children and families are educated on how the bowel and bladder work.
  • Information is obtained through written questionnaires and interview regarding the history of bowel and bladder habits and diet.
  • The child’s posture is assessed and an evaluation of pelvic floor muscle function is completed using biofeedback.
  • External electrodes are placed on the pelvic floor muscles and are connected to a computer monitor. Child friendly graphics or more traditional graphics (for our older clients) are used as a tool to help the child understand and learn how to use the pelvic floor muscles. No part of evaluation or treatment process is painful for your child.
  • Once enough information is obtained, the physical therapist can educate the child and family regarding the problems noted and the recommended plan for treatment.

In addition to biofeedback, physical therapy treatment for pelvic floor muscle dysfunction may also include:

  • Use of a bowel and bladder diary
  • Dietary/nutritional education
  • Postural muscle training and education
  • Breathing techniques and exercises
  • Manual therapy (belly massages muscle or visceral relaxation)

The success of treatment depends on the collaboration of a team of doctors, therapists, the parents, and child. Fox Valley Physical Therapy and Wellness, LLC, currently offers pediatric pelvic floor muscle training. A compassionate and positive approach to bowel and bladder dysfunction can result in improved confidence, self-esteem, and independence for your child.

Please contact our office at 630-549-0511 if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment.

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Physical Therapy

Our team of therapists provides clinical expertise to thoroughly evaluate and diagnose the problem behind the symptoms.



Our therapists offer their clinical expertise to thoroughly evaluate and diagnose the problem behind the symptoms.



We offer pediatric evaluations and physical therapy treatment for children, birth through 21 years.