Last Updated: 2007-11-15 14:26:08 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Results of a study published in the October issue of the Journal of the American Geriatric Society indicate that stroke survivors who develop urinary incontinence are less attentive than continent patients. Attention-focused training might therefore be helpful in regaining bladder control.

Dr. Renate Pettersen, of the University of Oslo, Norway, and colleagues conducted a prospective observational study of post-stroke urinary incontinence (UI) in relation to various aspects of cognitive function in 235 previously continent patients. Overall, 110 of the participants underwent computerized assessment of attention and processing speed.

Of the 235 patients, 170 remained continent, and 65 developed UI — 27 with urge UI and 38 with UI with impaired awareness of the need to void (IA-UI).

Compared to continent patients, those with urge UI had poorer power of attention and speed of memory (p < 0.001 for both). However, these patients had similar continuity of attention (p = 0.07) to continent subjects.

Patients with IA-UI performed worse than continent patients and those with urge UI in all categories.

"Sustained attention seems important for outcome and should be taken into account in the rehabilitation process," Dr. Pettersen and colleagues conclude. "In patients who recognize their incontinence, attention-focused training might be the most effective measure of reestablishing bladder control."

J Am Geriatr Soc 2007;55:1571-1577.