Neurogenic bladder is when you have urinary problems related to issues with your brain, spinal cord, or other nerves. It’s a common problem among people with cerebral palsy.
Cerebral palsy is the
The ability to urinate properly involves neural feedback from your brain and spinal cord to your bladder. Changes in the nervous system of people with cerebral palsy can lead to neurogenic bladder.
Cerebral palsy primarily causes problems with:
Everybody with cerebral palsy has movement problems, but some people have other problems, such as intellectual disability or urinary control problems.
Neurogenic bladder occurs when you lack proper bladder control due to problems with your brain, spinal cord, or other nerves. The severity of urinary tract symptoms in people with cerebral palsy is related to their level of:
- frequent urination
- urgent need to pee
- urine leakage (urinary incontinence)
- frequent need to pee at night
Less commonly, people with cerebral palsy can have an underactive bladder. Symptoms of an underactive bladder include:
- poor urine flow
- slow start to your urine stream
- feeling like your bladder isn’t completely empty (urinary retention)
- straining to empty your bladder
Neurogenic bladder is caused by a disruption in the typical neural pathway from your brain to your bladder. It’s caused by abnormal development or damage to your nerves, spinal cord, or brain.
Other potential complications of neurogenic bladder include:
- frequent urine leakage
- wetting the bed
- kidney damage or infections
scarring of the walls of your bladder
There are several treatment options for neurogenic bladder for people with cerebral palsy. These include:
In a 2022 study, researchers found that incontinence training with urotherapy can be an effective treatment for urinary incontinence in children with cerebral palsy.
- biofeedback therapy
- cognitive behavioral therapy
- alarm treatment, where an alarm buzzes at the start of urination
- oral medications
- intermittent catheterization
Surgery may be needed if symptoms are severe and other treatments fail.
Cerebral palsy is a lifelong disability. Clinical symptoms may change or worsen over time as your child’s central nervous system matures and their body changes. People with mild forms of cerebral palsy have almost the same chances of living a full life as people without cerebral palsy.
The outlook for people with cerebral palsy who have neurogenic bladder varies. Many people have improvements in their symptoms with treatment.
The doctor or healthcare professional seeing your child will ask questions to find out what symptoms your child is experiencing. They’ll also want to know about other symptoms, such as trouble with bowel function or whether your child has a history of UTIs.
The doctor may want to measure your child’s urinary tract function with a
- pressure flow study to measure how well their bladder handles pressure
- leak point pressure measurement to see if their bladder leaks
- electromyography to test nerves
- cystometric test to see how much urine their bladder can hold
The doctor may also order imaging to look at your child’s nerves, spinal cord, or brain. Imaging techniques may include:
Here are some frequently asked questions people have about cerebral palsy and neurogenic bladder.
Do children with cerebral palsy outgrow neurogenic bladder?
How many people with cerebral palsy have problems with urinary control?
It’s estimated that more than 50% of people with cerebral palsy deal with urinary control problems.
Can neurogenic bladder be treated?
A combination of medications, neurostimulation, and behavioral therapies can potentially help people with cerebral palsy improve their bladder control.
Neurogenic bladder is bladder dysfunction caused by problems with your nerves, spinal cord, or brain. It’s common in people with cerebral palsy.
In general, people with greater disability are more likely to have neurogenic bladder. A combination of treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, neurostimulation, and medications may help people with cerebral palsy improve their symptoms.