Technology does so much to improve our lives, with many products making it possible for us to carry less individual gadgets and have it all combined into one, while others monitor our health. A new Australian gadget falls into the latter category, and while it won’t be useful to all, it looks to be beneficial for those who need it most.
The people who would need this most would be women, as the PeriCoach is one of first devices for pelvic floor muscle training that can connect to a smartphone app and a web portal.
Designed for home use and to inform clinicians and physiotherapists with your progress, the PeriCoach is a small phallic-like gadget designed to be used by women, with sensors located in the body of the device to measure muscle strength, similar to what Kegel exercises do and what perineometers will track.
“The problem with traditional perineometers is that they measure the pressure inside,” said Geoff Daly, CEO of Analytica Medical, the company responsible for the PeriCoach. “That’s an indirect and often misleading indicator of whether the pelvic floor muscles are being exercised.”
“That’s fine for 1940’s, but we were able to adapt modern technology to measure the force exerted by the pelvic floor muscles themselves. So we have a patented advantage being able to measure the muscles that matter.”
But the information is only useful if there’s a guide to help you improve, and if a clinician is seeing what you’re doing, tracking your progress throughout it.
To help with this, PeriCoach relies on Bluetooth to send information to smartphones, with the battery delivering as much as four hours of continuous use and up to one week in standby. The smartphone app is only one part of the equation, too, as a medical professional can login to the PeriCoach web system and track your progress from afar, making it possible for the important people to see the information that they need.
“When speaking with the physios we asked them what information they would like to see, and we were met with blank looks,” said Daly, adding that “they had never considered it possible that they could see their patients exercise activity once they had left the clinic. So we had some immediate converts straight away when they saw the enormous potential for remote monitoring.
“Clinicians involvement has been central to our strategy throughout the commercialisation process,” he said.
One such expert told GadgetGuy that the PeriCoach was important for what it could do to help reduce urinary incontinence, a condition that involves an involuntary leak while doing basic things that flex the body, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, and running, with the main culprit for why this happens being weak pelvic floor muscles.
“Urinary incontinence is extremely common and is considered a silent epidemic,” said Dr. Alisa Wilson Edwards. “Around four million Australians are affected by urinary incontinence, the majority being women who have experienced childbirth or the menopause. Having said that, incontinence also affects a third of young women under 30 who haven’t had children.”
“Regular pelvic floor training is a clinically proven, non surgical way of effectively treating urinary incontinence,” said Edwards. “Approximately half of community based women with urinary incontinence will have cure or improvement with a regular well performed pelvic floor exercise program. This has been reproduced in many studies worldwide. Exercises do not have the risks associated with surgery, and are considered first line treatment.”
While there are quite a few ways of exercising these muscles — various squeeze and lift exercises, the aforementioned Kegel exercises, Mediballs and other exercise tools — the understanding we have of PeriCoach is that while it will provide similar strengthening, it also acts as a measurement tool for people unsure if they’re doing the exercises correctly or enough at all.
“Biofeedback is the way the user gets immediate feedback on the contraction and relaxation of their muscles,” said Edwards. “How the PeriCoach uses biofeedback is via its force sensors on the device which immediately displays wirelessly on the user’s smartphone screen, visually and auditory. The immediate feedback gives the user priceless information which is reassuring and motivating. Like other fitness devices this pushes the user to achieve more.”
If the gadget seems like it could be beneficial, we’re going to suggest talking with your GP to see if you need it, and if you do, then check it out.
Given how medical experts can login and see how well you’re progressing, we suspect you’re going to want their approval before you start using it anyway.