(12/17/13) - Asthma leads to more school absences and hospitalizations than any other chronic condition in this country, affecting more than 7 million children. Inhalers and other drugs can help kids control symptoms - if they remember to take them.
"When you try to keep up with the other kids, play with them, play how they play, it gets hard because they don't have what I got," says Mikah Allen.
His chronic, uncontrolled asthma requires daily meds. If he forgets, he says, exercise can trigger an attack, "it's like somebody just coming up to you and just choking you."
Every year, asthma accounts for 13 million missed school days and one quarter of all emergency room visits. It is something Dr. Giselle Mosnaim knows too well, "if they would take their medications, these could be avoidable."
Mosniam and fellow Rush University researchers are giving high risk teens something they will never forget, a smart phone loaded with a special app that turns taking medicine into a game.
Mosniam explains, each time a kid uses their daily controller medication inhaler, they can play, "so, because I took a dose, now I have the opportunity to shoot," and earn rewards on Google Play, "so, they get 50 cents that they can spend on music, apps, TV shows, and movies."
Teens can earn up to $1 a day for Google Play rewards. Meanwhile, Mosniam and fellow researchers are tracking when and where kids take their meds, "and we can also intervene at that moment. if we see they're missing doses of medicine, we send them a message."
The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is still in clinical trials. There are lots of asthma apps out there, but very few of them have actual clinical trial data behind them.
Researchers say once kids start feeling better after following their daily controller medication regimen with the new app, they will be more likely to continue using their daily controller medication inhalers and stay out of the emergency room and hospital.
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