Measuring pelvic floor muscles via smartphone

19 April 2017
Dr Jennifer Kruger

Dr Jennifer Kruger from the University of Auckland has won a grant from the Health Research Council to develop a way to measure pelvic floor muscle health using a smartphone.

“Urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse affect one in four women,” says Dr Kruger, who leads the Auckland Bioengineering Institute’s Pelvic Floor Research Group.

“Weak pelvic floor muscles are usually part of the problem. But the good news is that a simple training programme can be effective in 70 percent of women - provided it is done correctly and kept up.”

Dr Kruger plans to transform pelvic floor muscle health by using a new intra-vaginal pressure sensor array, which can be worn during daily living or exercise.

“This pressure sensor array will, for the first time, provide accurate feedback on pelvic floor health, correct exercise technique and assistance with helping women adhere to a training programme, via a smartphone.”

The first step will be to assess the repeatability and utility of the device among a group of women who are scheduled for physiotherapy treatment.

“The results will enable women to see improvement in pelvic floor strength and lead to fewer incontinence issues, and ultimately reduced healthcare costs,” says Dr Kruger.

The Pelvic Floor Research Group is part of a Women’s Health Initiative underway at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. This aims to understand the mechanisms of disease development and improve health outcomes for breast and reproductive health as well as pelvic floor mechanics.