What is neurogenic bladder?

Incontinence, or loss of control of the bladder affects as many as 80 million people in the United States.  There are many types of incontinence which can occur as a result of a disability or injury.  One example is when there is an injury or problem with the neurological system.

Neurogenic bladder is the term used when there is a loss of control of the bladder as a result of damage to the nerves or neurological system.  When the nerves are damaged, messages are unable to arrive to the bladder or brain like they are supposed to.  Those with neurogenic bladder may not ever feel the urge to go to the bathroom.  Also, the signal that tells the bladder muscle to contract to empty the bladder may not arrive resulting in urinary retention.  This is often referred to as underactive bladder and can lead to overflow incontinence.  Another possibility is that the nerves are overstimulated creating the sensation of always needing to go to the bathroom.  This is referred to as overactive bladder and can result in urge incontinence.

The treatment for neurogenic bladder will vary depending on whether you present with underactive bladder or overactive bladder.  For those looking for more information, check out our patient guide for neurogenic bladder.

Jeffrey Despommier, OTR, OMS, CUA, ATP


About the author – Jeffrey is an occupational therapist with over 15 years of rehabilitation experience. He is board certified as a urologic associate and ostomy management specialist.  He also specializes in complex rehab technology and is board certified as an assistive technology professional.

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