What are GI issues that require treatment?
Children who have soiling or bowel leakage often suffer physically as well as emotionally. Stool leakage due to long term constipation is known as encopresis.
This chronic constipation, which may cause stomach pain and discomfort, results in stool becoming impacted in a hard mass that enlarges the rectum. Liquid stool then can leak around the stool blockage and cause soiling. Without intervention, the cycle of constipation and leakage will continue.
Parents and children often feel frustrated and embarrassed by stool leakage, especially once a child becomes school age. But it’s important to know that it’s not the child’s fault and the child isn’t doing it on purpose. There is no shame or blame.
The good news is Ranken Jordan can help. Through our Functional Gastrointestinal (GI) Clinic, we offer a specialized Bowel Training Program created just for children with chronic constipation and bowel leakage. We focus on teaching parents and children new habits to increase toilet use and decrease stool leakage. This will lead to improved confidence and self-esteem.
Our comprehensive team includes:
- Physiatrist (medical physician who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation)
- Physical Therapist
- Occupational Therapist
- Childlife Specialist
Who can be helped by the GI Clinic?
The Functional GI Clinic at Ranken Jordan helps children ages 4-21 who struggle with chronic constipation or experience stool leakage for months or even years.
Many of the children we help have tried medications, home-cleanse regimens or even been hospitalized only to find the issue has returned. Children and families are often frustrated, embarrassed and concerned when they come to the GI Clinic. Families may be surprised to learn that other children struggle with this condition also. We can break the cycle for good to help these children regain control.
Your child’s gastroenterologist may refer your child to Ranken Jordan’s GI Clinic based on your child’s symptoms of chronic constipation or bowel leakage.
In our clinic, your child will meet with a physiatrist, a therapist and psychologist to gather history on your child and to determine your child’s specific needs.
The GI Clinic’s Bowel Training Program offers both inpatient and outpatient therapies tailored to each child based on their medical and behavioral history.
Bowel Training Program
The unique, effective Bowel Training Program is designed for children with chronic constipation and bowel leakage. Ranken Jordan offers the only inpatient program like this in the St. Louis area. Each child in the program has access to all of the specialists and programs across the hospital, including specially trained therapists, dietitian, activities throughout the day with recreational therapists and child life specialists, and visits with the psychologist.
Our program emphasizes five essential learning objectives:
- Fluid and fiber goals
- Timed toileting
- Exercise to improve strength, muscle control and body awareness
- Daily documentation on diet and toileting
If our inpatient bowel training program is right for you and your child, we will discussion admission to Ranken Jordan. The length of stay is typically 7-10 days. A primary caregiver should be present during the day to participate in the program and work with the care team.
Education and therapy and adherence to the bowel program are the cornerstones of the Bowel Training Program.
Your child’s treatment with our therapists will involve exercise techniques to address core and pelvic muscle awareness, strength and control. These muscles are important for bowel elimination.
Biofeedback is a tool our therapists use to help children gain more body awareness and control of their pelvic floor musculature. Biofeedback is done with a caregiver present. Children are able to see a visual response on the biofeedback device when they correctly activate pelvic floor muscles. This therapy helps children identify the appropriate muscles needed for healthy bowel control. Because we’re dedicated to caring for children, our child-friendly biofeedback machines are created with their special needs in mind.
In addition, our skilled therapist may trial electrical stimulation applied to your child’s abdomen and lower back. This therapy helps promote motility of stool through the large intestine. This therapy is not painful. Most children report this feels like a tickle.
Some children with chronic constipation can also exhibit picky eating behaviors. If appropriate for your child, our therapists and dieticians can help address those behaviors. Caregiver education is also important, as dietary changes in the home are often needed.
Caregiver support is essential for children with chronic constipation to continue this bowl program at home. The inpatient program requires that a caregiver be present for most of the daytime hours to participate in the education and therapies. The team also can coordinate with your child’s school about dietary and toileting needs.
Bowel training is also offered on an outpatient basis. Our physiatrist and therapists will discuss recommendations with you to determine if outpatient therapy is appropriate or to develop therapies you and your child may do at home.
An important part of the Bowel Training Program is building confidence in children who have been suffering from bowel leakage. By the end of the program, your child’s self-esteem will increase as they say goodbye to training underpants and are able to wear regular underwear like their peers.
Our Bowel Training Program team is proud of the life-changing success our patients experience. Through the program, you and your children will receive a personalized program and emotional support to regain confidence—so kids can just be happy-go-lucky kids.
If your child is experiencing bowel leakage, the earlier you seek treatment the better. A healthier, more confident future starts with a referral from your child’s doctor to Ranken Jordan’s Bowel Training Program. For more information, please call 314-872-6535.