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AI Technology Brings Benefits to Chronic Bedwetters

May 19, 2023
by Cheri Lewis

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Pediatric Urology reveals that young people who used a new bedwetting alarm system at least 80% of the time over the course of a year and a half achieved a 94% success rate. As a result, the study claims that 5-to-18-year-olds who struggled with nocturnal enuresis [involuntary urination while asleep], were able to stay drier when using the alarm. Yale urologist Israel Franco, MD, who developed the product, says “regular alarms” typically have a 50% success rate.

The device, which includes a wearable heart rate monitor, moisture sensor, and bedside PC-tablet, along with an app that is downloaded to the parent’s smartphone, uses real-time heart rate variability analysis and machine learning to create an alarm that can wake users before they wet themselves. Franco, who is considered an international expert on voiding dysfunction and its relationship to neuropsychiatric disorders, explains there is evidence that nocturnal enuresis patients tend to have heart rate differences. For the first 1-2 weeks of use, the system, he says, “learns” the patient’s natural biometric rhythms associated with bladder filling, then constructs a personalized algorithm that anticipates a wetting event—sounding an alarm to ideally wake the patient before anything happens.

Franco admits there are limitations to the study. For instance, he says, there is no way to know what is ultimately responsible for the drier night—is it because the mechanism is simply waking the patients or is there an actual change in the brain that leads to an altered awareness? “This is certainly fodder for future research involving the default mode network of the brain which is thought to be involved with nocturnal enuresis,” says Franco.

He is in the process of conducting a randomized controlled trial that looks more closely at the product’s efficacy in connection with these questions. Franco also thinks there could be other uses for the technology, such as helping children who have developmental problems and/or trouble with toilet training.

What is known now, says Franco, is that we’re “leaving behind the rudimentary alarms of the past and entering a modern age that can make a life-changing, practical difference for so many families struggling with difficult experiences.”

Submitted by Cheri Lewis on May 19, 2023