Smartphone-based applications are an increasingly popular tool for tracking health. UCSF urologists Maurice Garcia and Peter Carroll recently developed an app (Kegel Nation) that can help monitor the frequency, progress and quality of a Kegel exercise regimen in both men and women. Kegel exercises, in which the patient contracts and then relaxes the pelvic floor muscles for as many seconds as possible, have for decades been recommended to help women regain urinary continence after childbirth. Urologists also recommend these exercises to help men regain optimal bladder continence and sexual function after prostate cancer surgery.
The UCSF app is not the first to be developed for Kegel exercises, but it incorporates some unique features. It allows patients to measure the duration of the pelvic muscle contraction and relaxation by touching the phone’s screen during each exercise phase. The app then archives and charts the measured times with a time and date stamp. Patients can also use the app to track other key indicators of bladder function recovery, such as urinary urgency and incontinence episodes, pad use, and voiding events. A key feature is the ability to connect the app wirelessly to a database on a secure server, allowing physicians to monitor their patients’ progress and provide customized feedback. The database will also let physicians access the stored information for research purposes.
Preliminary testing of the app in healthy individuals showed that it is easy to use and that users were comfortable with the concept of employing an app for this purpose. The investigators hope to test the app’s usefulness in a wider population through a clinical trial. They also plan to develop a related app to track urinary tract symptoms and medication compliance in men who have undergone radiation therapy for prostate cancer.