TAI: Helping children, teens and their families live with a bowel disorder

December 2 2020

Living with a bowel disorder can be especially difficult when you’re young. There is often physical pain and other difficulties such as bloating, loss of appetite and soiling many times a day. But it can also lead to emotional pain, embarrassment and insecurity. At a time when children and teenagers should be growing, developing and discovering their identity and independence, a bowel disorder can steal their youth and make them feel sad and isolated.

Sad girl

Of course, this has a major effect on parents and other family members too – not only with the time and effort of being caregivers but also through the pain and worry of seeing a loved one who may be struggling to cope.

With TAI to help gain control over the bowel situation, children have more time to do the things they want to do. With this comes increased confidence, and saving you as a parent or caregiver a lot of worry, effort and time. 

– June Rogers, Pediatric Continence Specialist, Bladder and Bowel UK

Living with a bowel disorder

Many young people and their families spend a lot of time trying to deal with these problems. There’s the time it takes to eat, use the toilet (or try to use the toilet), change diapers or wash clothes after leaks, care for red and sore bottoms … all this has a huge impact on everyday life. What’s more, this limits a child’s playtime and getting involved in social activities with friends. Not just for the child but also for brothers and sisters who may have to pay the same price.

Looking for answers

With bowel problems affecting not only the child but also the daily life of the whole family, it’s understandable that parents do all they can to find the right treatment. But many struggle without success, trying an endless line of different dietary and bowel medication such as laxatives or stool thickeners. And every new failed attempt drains parents emotionally and just increases the feeling of hopelessness.

Take control and save time with TAI

But there is hope for youngsters with bowel disorders and their families. Transanal irrigation (TAI) is a technique for effectively emptying the bowel, and can provide a very welcome solution that helps them better manage their bowel – and life itself. TAI has been used for children since the 1980s. And now, with the development of the required equipment in the last 10 years, it has become part of routine bowel management for children with ongoing problems.

TAI helps a child regain control of when and where to go to the toilet. With that, the inconvenience of accidents eventually disappears, and both parents and children can start living life without constantly thinking about the bowel and toilet needs.

Emily (aged 4 with cerebral palsy) instilled 500 milliliters of water herself with guidance from her mother and myself. She sat on the toilet and the evacuation started. The process took 10 minutes start to finish and Emily was very proud at the end of the irrigation. She had used the big toilet for the first time in her life!


Bev Collins, Clinical Nurse Lead, Wellspect HealthCare

TAI in brief

  • Promotes evacuation of a large part of the bowel
  • Water is instilled into the bowel via rectal catheter
  • When catheter is removed water and feces come out
  • The bowel stay empty until next irrigation, preventing soiling and also giving control over time and place of evacuation
  • Insertion of water creates mass movement which prevents constipation
  • Once familiar, irrigation routine can take 30, sometimes even as little as 10 minutes
  • Depending on child’s needs, TAI is performed daily, every other day or twice a week
  • Less time and energy spent on bowel management for children, parents and other family members
  • More predictable bowel-emptying routine for less risk of accidents and more confidence, even when child is away from home e.g. at school or with friends
  • Older children and teenagers can learn procedure themselves, giving them more independence

What’s the next step?

Caregiver guide_73083_your child and TAI thumb

We have gathered information from healthcare professionals, scientific experts, parents and users. We hope to increase your knowledge and motivation to start using TAI together with your child!

Download "Caregiver guide: Your child and transanal irrigation"

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What does Alice, 10 years old, think about Transanal Irrigation?

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Topics: Transanal irrigation (TAI), Children and TAI, Bowel dysfunction