I trained in urology, which is a surgical specialty that deals with the normal functioning of our urinary tracts. Urology includes a whole range of conditions that affect the kidneys, urinary bladder and the various tubes and pipes that connect these organs all together. There is a another sub area of Urology that is very serious, affects most people throughout their lives, yet still invokes a smirk and nervous chuckle whenever it is discussed. Urology also deals with the health of the male sexual organs. In women, a layer of muscles that support a woman’s internal sexual organs (called the “pelvic floor”) may become weakened or diseased, with age or after pregnancies, and will also require a Urologist’s intervention. Being able to help people with sexual-organ related problems, is from the proudest things I did during my training.
The reason I wanted to study Urology was that it offered solutions to most of the patients who came for an evaluation. If an adult male was not able to properly urinate, this could literally ruin the patient’s life. Such an individual could possibly never get a proper night’s sleep because of the need to urinate on a frequent basis. This person could very well be limited in traveling outside of the home because of the need to suddenly and urgently find a washroom. For women, problems with the pelvic floor, could lead to a condition called stress incontinence. With this condition, any significant effort could lead to a leakage of urine. Women who are perfectly healthy and extremely active and outgoing can become severely limited because of such urinary problems. When I was able to help such people, the look of appreciation on their faces was worth everything. Believe me, it’s not funny when basic bodily functions do not function properly.
A few days ago, I read the following article which described a new type of game controller that is operated by the pelvic floor in women. Many women will actually be acquainted with a special set of exercises that are meant to strengthen the pelvic floor, for a whole variety of reasons. These exercises, referred to as Kegel exercises, can help women (a) in preparation for pregnancy and delivery, (b) with stress incontinence, (c) with lower abdominal pain, (d) with sexual difficulties and more. With practice, a person can learn to squeeze the pelvic floor at any moment and anywhere. But some people need help, at least initially, in order to fully control their pelvic floor. For these people, there are aids, such as discussed in the article I linked to above. This article speaks of a device called SKEA which stands for “Smart Kegel Exercise Aid”. I have no connection whatsoever to the company that produces SKEA.
SKEA is a hands-free game controller which works in conjunction with a fitness app that looks more like a computer game. By using the pelvic muscles, instead of the user’s hands, to navigate the appropriate games, the user can do a very complete workout for the pelvic floor. It is clear from all that I have discussed above that pelvic floor strengthening can help women with a whole range of problematic conditions. If such a device is successful in getting women to really exercise their pelvic floors, it could spare many women complicated and lengthy treatments as well as surgery. The potential is tremendous, and the benefit is clear.
Interestingly, the pelvic floor is an incredibly important organ that has multiple other roles. Many years ago, I studied a martial art for a couple of years. Of the many things I learned, I came to appreciate the incredible importance of having a well-controlled pelvis. The pelvis, and the pelvic floor with it, provide stability to the entire body. By being able to control one’s pelvic floor, a kick becomes much harder, a punch becomes much more effective and even back pain can be relieved. All of my children have studied martial arts as well and all of them have learned the same basic point. I actually hope that their training will benefit them for their entire lives just because of their developed ability to manipulate their pelvic floors.
I would actually not be surprised if a device similar to SKEA was used by various athletes to help them focus on the often neglected pelvic floor. Imagine an Olympic athlete who can suddenly jump farther or higher because of the training with this device. When the world is watching you and there are many millions of dollars on the line, any help that is legitimate, is more than welcomed.
The reason I find this device so interesting is because it deals with a topic which people tend to ignore. It’s always cool to talk about the next generation of computerized glasses. But talking about a pelvic floor device leaves most people embarrassed and disinterested. This is actually a manifestation of lack of understanding and lack of vision. I hope that there are researchers and entrepreneurs out there who are investigating other ignored areas of health, which could be dramatically aided by technology.
Perhaps another reason that I wanted to be a Urologist was because of the traditional Jewish morning prayers that include a set of blessings that seem to reference very mundane issues. People usually don’t think about their ability to stand straight or to bend over or to be able to freely use the washroom when they wish to, rather than when they’re forced to by a medical condition. Jewish tradition reminds us that it is those things that we tend to take for granted which are most missed when we lose them. Hopefully, technologies like this device will help people recover lost functionality so that they can once again say these Jewish blessings, or the equivalent, with a full heart.
Thanks for listening