CONTACT: BECKY SOGLIN
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-6660; fax (319) 335-8034
Release: Sept. 5, 2000
UI researchers receive $1.26 million NIH grant to study constipation treatment
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa Health Care researchers have received
a five-year, $1.26 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to
study neuromuscular conditioning therapy, also known as biofeedback, to treat
constipation. The grant was effective Sept. 1.
The investigation will be the first large-scale randomized, controlled study
to help determine the efficacy and scientific basis of biodfeedback treatment
for constipation, said principal investigator Satish S.C. Rao, M.D., Ph.D.,
UI associate professor of internal medicine. The study also will compare home-based
and office-based treatments and assess the quality of life and psychosocial
function of patients.
The biofeedback technique that will be used was pioneered in large part
at the UI. The technique involves making people more aware of unconscious
or involuntary bodily functions involved in defecation and includes the use
of a probe as well as visual and verbal feedback techniques so that individuals
may relearn the normal process of having a bowel movement.
"Physical rehabilitation treatment has helped hundreds of patients
with constipation," Rao said. "However, we don't know if the beneficial
effects are due to the actual behavioral changes or to the consequences of
a patient receiving medical attention. This study is designed to help answer
Constipation affects more than four million Americans, predominantly women
and the elderly. However, the condition is not well understood, and most treatments
depend on the use of laxatives and/or changes in diet and exercise.
"Only recently we have learned that the inability to coordinate the
muscles involved in defecation may lead to constipation," Rao said. "Additionally,
some people with constipation don't sense the arrival of stool in the rectum.
We will study whether biofeedback might help these individuals improve sensation
so they can use their muscles, which function normally."
Other people can sense the arrival of stool but can't use their muscles
properly, Rao said. In their cases, biofeedback might help them learn to use
their muscles effectively.
He added that some individuals involved in the study will have a combination
of the sensation and muscle problems or different problems altogether that
cause constipation. Each individual case requires careful appraisal and treatment.
Physicians whose patients might be interested in participating in the study
can call Rao or Joan Kempf, study coordinator, at (319) 384-9756
University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between
the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient
care, medical education and research programs and services they provide.