Being able to understand how to contract the pelvic floor muscles the right way is essential for a successful outcome, according to Neumann.
"About one-third of women who are given a brochure about pelvic floor exercises, get the basic action wrong and don't do well on their own with pelvic floor muscle training. They need expert guidance to achieve the correct technique, not from a general physiotherapist, but a specially trained continence physiotherapist," Neumann said.
The women in the study had an average of five treatments over several months, as well as a home program that was monitored.
Of the women who took part in the study, the majority were either cured or significantly improved and were happy with the outcome. After one year about 80 per cent of the study participants who responded to a questionnaire indicated that they were still happy with the outcome of treatment. In all, 15 of the women went on to have surgery.
"Age is not a factor in the success of the treatment but maintaining a strong pelvic floor once the muscles have been strengthened with regular exercise built into their daily lives is the key to long-term success. Exercise takes very little time and can be done at times that suit participants, and as part of their everyday activities.
"There's new evidence showing that if women train the pelvic floor muscles for strength, the muscles actually improve in their tone and form a firmer support for the bladder, performing automatically to control urine. That's partly what we're aiming for with our training program, improvement in strength and tone," Neumann said.
"One of the problems for women with stress incontinence is that they leak urine during sport so it's a disincentive to exercise, which compounds the problem because they