While it may appear little is new for managing intractable urinary or bowel incontinence, many scientists, engineers, and health care professionals are working tirelessly on new products to help improve the quality of life for persons living every day with incontinence. Absorbent products and catheters keep evolving and improving: better designs, improved absorbency, added features for people with limited dexterity, improvements to lessen leakage, slimmer silhouettes, and improved coatings are coming available. Even more exciting and encouraging is that some very different products are entering the market that may dramatically change the lives not only of persons with incontinence, but also those of us caring for them.

Innovation is very important to The Simon Foundation for Continence. The Foundation just concluded its sixth biennial conference, “Innovating for Continence: The Engineering Challenge” in April 2017. This conference brought together people from all over the world who are passionate about product and device innovation and improving the lives of people with incontinence. Many of these individuals have devoted their entire lives to this endeavor. The conference series is moderated by Professor Alan Cottenden, PhD, the Technical Director of the Continence and Skin Technology Group, University College, London, England. He is Chair of Committee 20 (Management Using Continence Products) of the World Health Organization’s International Consultation on Incontinence, Geneva, Switzerland. This year’s Honorary Conference President was Diane K. Newman, DNP, ANP-BC, FAAN, Co-Director of the Penn Center for Continence and Pelvic Health, Division of Urology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA; as well as Adjunct Professor of Urology in Surgery, Perelman School of Medicine, at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Newman’s clinical practice involves the assessment and treatment of patients with urinary incontinence and overactive bladder. She is currently co- or subprincipal investigator for numerous clinical trials. These 2 outstanding individuals, along with the many speakers and poster presenters at the conference, provided an inside look at new and novel products on the market and products in development we hope to see in the near future.

The winning poster at this year’s conference was presented by Camille Newton, MD, of PureWick Corporation (El Cajon, CA): “External Catheter System Provides Effective Incontinence Management for Women.” This noninvasive urine collection device uses a soft, flexible external catheter wick that connects to wall vacuum systems or an optional DryDoc Vacuum Station™. The wick is designed to capture up to 100% of urine, regardless of flow rate, and does not attach to or enter the body. It may be used with the person lying down on her back or side or while seated. The wick does not require a physician’s order and may be placed by any trained health care worker. The PureWick external catheter system is a United States Food and Drug Administration 510(k) exempt Class I device. This device provides caregivers a completely new way of keeping the patient dry, clean, and comfortable.

Another recent entry to the US market is the PeriCoach (Analytica Ltd, Brisbane, Australia), which gives women the ability to practice Kegel exercises at home with an app and their cell phones. Strengthening or preventing a weak pelvic floor, with the convenience of doing it at home and in private, is part of the revolution of using cell phone technology for improved patient compliance and enhanced quality of life.

Conference attendees learned about many other innovative products that are either newly on the market or in final development. These include:

  • Flourish® (Contine Corporation, New London, CT), an intravaginal device that provides effective management of stress urinary incontinence symptoms for women;
  • a novel external surface electrode that is patient-applied in the home for stress urinary incontinence treatment (Elidah, Inc, Monroe, CT);
  • Navina Smart (Wellspect Healthcare, Mölndal, Sweden), the first available electronic transanal irrigation device;
  • IncoStress (C&G Medical, Ltd, Cardiff, UK), an intravaginal device for management of urinary incontinence;
  • MAPLe (Novuqare, Rosmalen, The Netherlands), a device designed for high-definition visualization of pelvic floor activity;
  • The Wellness Toilet Seat (Schwabcare, Albany, NY), which allows for improved perineal cleansing via hands-free application of cleanser followed by water lavage, efficient drying, and hands-free application of barrier spray as needed;
  • inFlow® (Vesiflo, Redmond, WA), a prosthesis for women with underactive bladder to assist complete bladder emptying; and
  • Vesair (Solace Therapeutics Inc., Framingham, MA), an air-filled intravesical balloon as a means to reduce transient intravesical pressure and urinary leakage.

New devices are entering the market and many currently are in the early stages of research and development. Engineers are looking at how stretchable electronics may be applied to implants, the use of nanotechnology and other new technologies for creating novel surfaces on catheters to prevent injury and infection that can alert patients and caregivers of possible infection, potential uses for 3-dimensional printing for patients with incontinence, and the use of biomimetics to look at how we design products for both urinary and bowel incontinence.

Exciting and some potentially quality of life changing products are here or on the horizon. Results of clinical studies on many of these products are positive and should bring hope to many. For patients who do not want drugs or surgery, the future is worth watching. At The Simon Foundation for Continence, we promote and alert the public to these new products and clinical work through our website, Facebook page, e-newsletters, and ongoing conference series. We also look to health care professionals to alert us to the new products you are discovering in the field, and we look forward to hearing from you about your experiences with them. We encourage you to contact The Simon Foundation for Continence through our website: www.simonfoundation.org.