Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Urinary Incontinence: Is there any correlation?

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Engelland, Ashley
Keller, Maddie
Price, Peyton
Schartz, Madelyn
Scott, Lauren
Celso, Jennifer

Engelland, Ashley; Keller, Maddie; Price, Peyton; Schartz, Madelyn; Scott, Lauren. 2023. Diastasis Rectus Abdominis and Urinary Incontinence: Is there any correlation?. -- In Proceedings: 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects. Wichita, KS: Wichita State University


INTRODUCTION: Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (DRA) is the separation of the rectus abdominal muscles along the linea alba, determined by the inter-rectus distance (IRD) being greater than or equal to 2 finger-widths. Urinary incontinence (UI) is the loss of bladder control that results in involuntary leakage of urine. Few correlational studies have been conducted to examine the statistical relationship between DRA and UI, specifically 6-10 weeks postpartum. PURPOSE: The purpose of our study was to investigate the correlation between DRA and UI among women 6-10 weeks postpartum. METHODS: In this retrospective study, participants were women ages 18-40 who were 6-10 weeks postpartum. Exclusion criteria included current physical therapy treatment for DRA, cesarean section, or connective tissue disorder. The participants completed the Pelvic Floor Disability Index (PFDI-20). A telehealth visit instructed participants on the self-palpation method to determine diagnosis. RESULTS: Results of a chi-square analysis revealed no significant association between DRA and UI, ꭓ 2 (1) = 0.15, p = 0.696. Based on the odds ratio, the odds of postpartum women with DRA having UI were only 1.77 times lower than postpartum women without DRA. CONCLUSION: There was no significant association between DRA and UI in this population. Limitations of our study included: (1) The exclusion of participants currently being treated by a physical therapist for DRA; (2) The method of diagnosing DRA was not performed with the gold standard and may have missed diagnosing some participants with DRA; (3) The small sample size (n = 16). Future studies with different exclusion parameters and larger numbers of participants should be conducted to determine whether there is an association between DRA and UI in postpartum women.

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1st place award winner in the poster presentations at the 19th Annual Symposium on Graduate Research and Scholarly Projects (GRASP) held at the Rhatigan Student Center, Wichita State University, April 14, 2023.
Research completed in the Department of Physical Therapy, College of Health Professions.