This health video explores the new technology which would allow bionic bladder control.
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Jennifer Matthews: It may look like Fay Kritzer is just relaxing at home. But she's using this pad to re-charge a tiny device that's been implanted to control a condition called urge incontinence. Fay Kritzer: Everything that I did involved the fact that I was always looking for a restroom. Jennifer Matthews: Urologist Ken Peters says it's a common condition that affects about 17 million Americans. Dr. Ken Peters: More people who have urge incontinence have much less quality of life because they cannot control it. Jennifer Matthews: That uncontrollable urge to go to the bathroom can sometimes be helped by staying away from caffeine. Drugs may also help a select few, but many won't tolerate the side effects. Now, they may not need to. Dr. Ken Peters: We are actually in the midst of a major research study on a new therapy called the Bion, which is a very tiny device. Jennifer Matthews: The size of a matchstick, the device is implanted in an area where it stimulates nerves that go to the bladder. Dr. Ken Peters: It sends a signal back up to the brain and tells everything to kind of function more normally. Jennifer Matthews: It's similar to a common device known as interstim, which acts like a pacemaker for the bladder, but the Bion is much smaller and requires a simpler surgery. Dr. Ken Peters: We consider it a success of 50 percent improvement in symptoms, but I think we have some patients who definitely get more than that 50 percent. Jennifer Matthews: Fay says it's changed her life. Fay Kritzer: I don't have to think about the bathroom situation anymore. I can just go ahead and do what I want to do and not think, well, am I going to be by a restroom? Jennifer Matthews: She has to recharge the battery daily but says it's a price she's willing to pay. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.