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Meet Dr Woozoo: The asthma app could save children's lives

The MySpira asthma app was developed by Orbital Media. Inset: Orbital Media CEO Peter Brady and consultant Karyn McBride. Pictures; Orbital Media

The MySpira asthma app was developed by Orbital Media. Inset: Orbital Media CEO Peter Brady and consultant Karyn McBride. Pictures; Orbital Media

Orbital Media

Children's lives could be saved thanks to a new app which is being rolled out this year.

MySpira is an augmented reality app which aims to teach children how to use their inhalers properly.

The app was created and developed by Stowmarket's Orbital Media, in collaboration with the University of Suffolk.

The app was founded after research from the University found that 96% of children 
misuse their inhaler - which could lead to potentially fatal asthma attacks.

MORE: Meet the accidental tech founders who are now turning £8.6m

The development of the app was supported by healthcare experts from from Suffolk Primary Care, including asthma nurse Karyn McBride.

Ms McBride said: "A good inhaler technique significantly cuts the risk of having an asthma attack - if your technique isn't correct, you might not be getting the full dose of medicine prescribed.

"Common mistakes I see include inadequate shaking of canister before inhalation, inhaling too fast or too slowly 
and not using it at the right angle. I've even seen somebody leave the cap on. There is a real need for better - and modernised - education, so patients, including children, can take control of their asthma."

The application is designed for children between the ages of six and 13, and uses augmented reality to place characters in the user's digital environment.

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It then uses gameplay - as well as supplementary education materials - to teach users how to properly use the medical equipment. Throughout the 20 minute experience, the child is taught about asthma keywords, triggers, different types of inhalers, how to prepare the inhaler and spacer, and how to inhale the medicine correctly.

The app is currently being promoted across hospitals, pharmacies and GP surgeries in Suffolk, and will be free until April.

Peter Brady is the chief executive of Orbital Media and said that his team's aim is to ultimately cut the number of preventable child deaths.

He said: "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 has already revealed promising results.

In a study of 96 children who had used the app, research found that information recall had been increased by up to 70% using MySpira compared to leaflets.

Dr Simon Rudland, partner at Stowhealth and medical advisor to MySpira said: "The initial results of this research are extremely promising, improving both technique and compliance.

"We are looking at integrating this app into our existing asthma support services in the future."

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