Kids naturally crave more freedom and independence as they grow, and starting school is one of those natural transitional times. Asserting independence can include wanting to take over healthcare regimens, including bladder management.
A number of pediatric seating and wheeled mobility clients — such as those with spina bifida, transverse myelitis, or spinal cord injuries — use catheters, and taking on more self-care tasks can include learning to self cath. Assuming that responsibility is a milestone that’s exciting for kids and parents, but also challenging and a little nerve wracking. For example, kids might worry about carrying supplies discreetly, so they don’t attract attention at school or outside the house. Parents might wonder if the child can correctly follow self-cathing steps.
That’s why Cure Medical (www.curemedical.com) has created educational materials, including kid-friendly catheter guides and teaching tools for their anxious parents. And Cure Medical is making the materials available free of charge to complex rehab technology (CRT) providers who purchase Cure Medical’s products.
Educational tools can reduce parents’ concerns about infections, hygiene and what a child needs to learn to take over catheterization duties.
Even children too young to be interested in self-cathing at the moment will start asking questions eventually. Being a resource for these kids and their families can give you an advantage as a provider and position you as the go-to resource when the time comes. Here are some ways you can help your littlest clients — and their parents — prepare for this big step.
1. Everyone Goes — Some Just Go Differently
When their child uses a catheter at school, parents could worry that the child will feel “different” from classmates.
Parents can respond this way: Everyone eats and drinks, and everyone uses the bathroom. Some people just go to the bathroom in a different way.
Parents can explain that a catheter is a tool to help some kids go to the bathroom more easily and quickly, so they can get back to having fun in class or with their friends. When parents normalize catheter usage, their child can feel less embarrassed and more practical about using the restroom, even when Mom and Dad aren’t around.
2. Follow the Same Steps Each Time to Be Clean and Healthy
To successfully self-cath, children need to be responsible enough to understand the importance of keeping catheters and the cathing area clean during the process. Children also need to know that tugging or excessively touching the catheter tube could cause discomfort or misconfigure the catheter’s placement.
Parents need to emphasize the need for cleanliness and leaving the catheter alone, but they also need to be comfortable in teaching kids the correct process. Many catheter manufacturers offer free instructions for using their catheter products. Ask for literature and other assets to have on hand to share with parents, kids and clinicians.
3. Consider Catheter Materials
Materials matter in catheter construction. According to the Spina Bifida Association, children with spina bifida are considered at high risk for rubber/latex allergies. A small amount of an allergy-inducing substance can have a stronger impact on a 40-lb. child than on a 200-lb. adult, simply due to the difference in body weight. So in addition to choosing a catheter that’s easy to use for children, parents also need to consider the catheter’s construction.
As a provider of such supplies, you need to know your options, as well.
Concerned parents — especially those mindful of chemical or allergen exposure — may ask their provider for a child’s catheter not made with known carcinogens DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex.
Some catheter manufacturers still use Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) as an economical means for making catheters flexible, and its use is still legal. DEHP is included on a published Proposition 65 list of chemicals known to cause cancer and reproductive harm, according to the state of California.* The chemical’s risk for harm is so great that federal law bans DEHP usage in children’s toys, as the chemical can be absorbed through the mouth and hands.
Exposure to carcinogens is a legitimate concern for people at higher risk for cancer — including, potentially, your CRT clients. For example, the incidence of bladder cancer in people with spinal cord injury is 16 to 28 times higher than that of the non-injured general population, according to research published by Craig Rehabilitation Hospital, a facility specializing in treating spinal cord injury.**
Cure Medical CEO John Anderson explains, “The use of DEHP in catheters creates a number of health risks, including patient exposure to hazardous chemicals which leaches from vinyl medical devices.
“When there are options available to create intermittent catheters that work just as well as those made with standard chemicals, there’s really just no reason to use these chemicals anymore if you can avoid it. Cure Medical believes it’s the right thing to do, so we made the decision to go without DEHP in our products.”
Ask urological supply manufacturers for catheters that don’t expose your customers, especially children, to DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex.
4. Make Cathing More Fun to Learn
Activity books and visual aids can help a child to better understand the self-catheterization process.
Cure Medical is offering a new educational program for parents of children learning how to cath. Developed by a team of medical professionals, including registered nurses, the materials come with kid-centered tools and resources, such as:
• Blue and pink backpacks without logos so they can be carried discreetly at school and outside the home;
• Flashcards with steps for cathing with or without stomas;
• Coloring books, crayons, a fun toy — and more!
Backpacks also contain samples of Cure Medical’s recently introduced Pediatric Hydrophilic Cure Catheter. Made for kids and their concerned parents, this new intermittent catheter offers instant hydration plus smooth eyelets and is not made with scary chemicals such DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex.
The catheter and the educational backpack program is available now from Cure Medical.
For more advice on ways that CRT providers can grow their urological supply business, visit www.curemedical.com or call (800) 570-1778.
* CA EPA Office of Env. Health Hazard Assessment List of Chemicals Known to the State to Cause Cancer or Reproductive Toxicity, Dec. 8, 2006.
** “Bladder cancer in patients with spinal cord injury.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14992333
Photos courtesy of 2017 Get Out, Enjoy Life Event hosted by SPORTS ‘N SPOKES, Cure Medical and the Spina Bifida Association.