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App for asthmatic youngsters backed by county health service

PUBLISHED: 11:30 19 November 2019

The MySpira app has been developed by Orbital Media of Stowmarket and is now being promoted in surgeries and schools across Suffolk  Picture: ARCHANT

The MySpira app has been developed by Orbital Media of Stowmarket and is now being promoted in surgeries and schools across Suffolk Picture: ARCHANT

Archant

An app teaching asthmatic children to use their inhalers properly is being promoted across the county after being developed by a Suffolk company.

The MySpira app uses fun characters and games to teach children with asthma techniques for using their inhalers  Picture: ORBITAL MEDIAThe MySpira app uses fun characters and games to teach children with asthma techniques for using their inhalers Picture: ORBITAL MEDIA

MySpira, by Orbital Media of Stowmarket, teaches youngsters techniques in a fun way and is now being promoted in hospitals, GP surgeries, pharmacies and primary schools across the county by Public Health Suffolk.

The app uses characters and interactions, to engage children with asthma with games they can play with parents, siblings or friends.

Throughout the 20 minute experience the youngster is taught about asthma keywords, triggers, different types of inhalers, how to prepare the inhaler and spacer, and how to inhale the medicine correctly.

Research has found that as many as 97% of asthmatic children misuse their inhalers, with potentially serious consequences.

Research has found up to 97% of young children use inhalers incorrectly  Picture:JOHN GILES / PAResearch has found up to 97% of young children use inhalers incorrectly Picture:JOHN GILES / PA

Stuart Keeble, Suffolk County Council director of public health, said: "The app teaches children vital skills to help manage their asthma condition in a fun and engaging way, which involves the whole family so parents, siblings and friends also know what to do should an attack occur.

"We are working closely with services across the health care system as well as in education settings in Suffolk to promote the app as a valuable resource to use alongside a child's existing asthma care plan."

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The app was developed by Orbital with the University of Suffolk, supported by Dr Simon Rudland from StowHealth surgery in Stowmarket and asthma nurse Karyn McBride.

Paul Brown, chief executive of Suffolk Primary Care  Picture: SUFFOLK PRIMARY CAREPaul Brown, chief executive of Suffolk Primary Care Picture: SUFFOLK PRIMARY CARE

Paul Brown, chief executive of Suffolk Primary Care, a partnership of 12 GP surgeries in Suffolk covering more than 110,000 patients, said: "Research has shown that, when asthma sufferers use their inhalers incorrectly, less than 5% of the medicine reaches where it's needed in the lungs.

"Where proper inhaler training programmes have been put in place, however, emergency admissions have been reduced by 50% and asthma deaths by 75%.

"We hope the introduction of MySpira across Suffolk Public Health services will not only improve technique and compliance, and therefore increased health, but will also result in fewer serious or fatal asthma attacks in the county."

Peter Brady, chief executive of Orbital Media, said: "Our vision for MySpira is to educate children about correct inhaler technique to ultimately cut the number of preventable child deaths.

"21st Century children are digital natives, so it makes perfect sense to use technology as a means of educating and engaging them about their health.

"We are hugely excited to be at the forefront of this and hope that MySpira will help reduce the number asthma attacks in children across Suffolk.

"If adopted nationwide, MySpira could make a huge impact, dramatically reducing the number of emergency cases and hospitalisations across the UK, as well as saving the NHS millions of pounds."

The app is available from the App Store and Google Play.

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