Teaching the Teachers

Helping parents teach their children about self-catheterization.

At a certain age, kids will be the first to tell you that they want more freedom, and more independence, especially as they head off to school. For many children who have Spina Bifida, part of that sense of independence includes being able to take care of their health regimen themselves.

When using a catheter, for example, kids want to be as discreet as possible so it’s not obvious at school or outside of the house. That’s why we’re thrilled to share some new educational materials from Cure Medical that include kid-friendly catheter guides and teaching tools for anxious parents.

"Educational resources are one of the best ways to ensure that, from the start, a child learns to follow the same steps every time when they are using a catheter. It’s much like tying a shoe!"

Educational tools for cathing can help parents too in reducing their concerns about infections, hygiene and their child’s responsibility for catheterization duties as the child begins to transition into more self-care with age.

When a child begins to learn how to cath themselves, they’ll have a lot of questions about the catheter and its usage.  Even if a child is too young now to be concerned about cathing, they’ll be asking questions one day soon.  Here are some tips and tricks you can offer to parents to prepare their child for taking care of their catheter needs themselves.

1. Help Your Child Understand That Everyone Goes – Some Just Do It Differently

Parents worry about their child feeling different than other children especially when it comes to taking care of medical needs like using a catheter to go to the bathroom during the school day.

Just like everyone gets sick from time to time, everyone uses the bathroom too, but sometimes we have to handle it a little differently.

Parents should let their child know that they’re only doing it in a slightly different way. Explain that some people need to use the bathroom differently.

Reassure the child their catheter is there to help them take care of going to the bathroom quickly and easily so they can get back to having fun in class or on the go.  When parents normalize catheter usage, their child may feel less embarrassed and more practical about using the restroom, especially when mom and dad aren’t around.

2. Teach the Importance of Following the Same Steps Each Time to Be Clean and Healthy

When a child begins to self-cath, they need to be mature and responsible enough to understand the importance of keeping their catheter and cathing area clean during the process.

"We know this is a challenge! Kids are great at making messes but in this case, it’s important to reduce the possibility of getting a UTI or another infection."

Also, the child should understand that tugging or excessively touching the catheter tube could cause discomfort or misconfigure the catheter’s placement. Be sure to stress the importance of staying clean and leaving their catheter alone, but help the child through the process so they know that they can easily handle it well.

3. Be Sure to Choose a Catheter that Doesn’t Have Scary Chemicals

Parents only want what’s best for their children and keeping them safe from harmful chemicals is becoming an everyday battle. This is especially true for children who have Spina Bifida, as these individuals may be allergic to latex and other chemicals.

"Children often have more severe allergic reactions than adults do, and this is due to their body size."

If your child has allergies or asthma, you already know that sometimes they can have more serious reactions than an adult might have.

A small amount of allergy-inducing substance often has a higher impact on a 40-lb. child than it will on a 200-lb. man. Finding the right catheter that works for a child can be frustrating, especially when parents are trying to find one that’s safe and easy-to-use.

Concerned parents may ask their medical supply provider for a child’s catheter that is not made with known-carcinogens DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex – especially those parents who are mindful about their children’s chemical or allergen exposure.

Some catheter manufacturers still use Di(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) as an economical means for making catheters flexible, and this 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, however, that Federal law has already banned DEHP in children’s toys as the chemical can be absorbed through the mouth and hands.  Learn more about the health concerns with DEHP here.

Reducing exposure to known carcinogens is a legitimate concern for people who have a higher risk for cancer due to hereditary or other health issues.  For example, the incidence rate of bladder cancer in people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) is 16 to 28 times higher than that of the general population, according to a research study published by model SCI center Craig Rehabilitation Hospital**.

"The good news is that a large selection of quality-made, user-friendly intermittent catheters exist today that are not made with DEHP."

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,” Anderson adds.

Feel free to ask your manufacturing partners for a catheter that doesn’t expose your customers, especially children, to DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex.

4. Use Teaching Tools to Make Cathing More Fun to Learn

Healthcare professionals and seasoned parents know that activity books and visual aids can help a child better understand the self-catheterization process

Cure Medical is now offering a new education program that parents can utilize to teach their children “How to Cath.” Developed by a team of medical professionals including registered nurses, the Cure Medical educational materials come with fun instruction tools and resources such as:

  • Backpacks in blue and pink with no logos — for discretion at school or away from home,
  • Flash cards for boys and girls that also include steps for cathing with or without stomas,
  • Coloring books with crayons, a complimentary 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 like DEHP, BPA or natural rubber latex.
  • The catheter and the educational backpack program is available now from Cure Medical.



For more advice on ways to improve your urological supply business, reach out to the intermittent catheter experts at Cure Medical. Visit www.curemedical.com or call 800.570.1778.

* Note: See 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.


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