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Gamifying better cystic fibrosis management

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Gamifying better cystic fibrosis management

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Gamification is something that has taken an increased role in trying to support and provoke behavioral change, whether it’s in reducing energy bills or making us healthier.

It was found to be particularly useful in helping younger people manage their care, as emphasized by a paper produced by researchers at Birmingham City University last year.

“Engagement itself may be dependent upon age and stage of development — that is younger people may be more likely to enjoy and participate in the challenges whereas interest may wane as the person matures. There is also the element of novelty, the challenges faced in order to maintain that game’s uniqueness and how different genders perceive and react to the came-based system. Therefore there is the possibility it may only be effective within a certain time frame,” they say.

Gamifying cystic fibrosis

The German based Jordi Stick is therefore an interesting development.  It is a new device that is attempting to gamify the treatment of cystic fibrosis, especially for the many children that suffer from the disease.

Whilst cystic fibrosis is currently incurable, it can be managed by regular breathing exercises via a nebulizer device.  Encouraging young people to use the nebulizer for 30 minutes each day is often easier said than done however, which is where the Jordi Stick comes in.

The device was developed by Dieter Kirsh after he was inspired by the travails he goes through with his own child.

The Jordi Stick connects up to your nebulizer with a video game, so the patient is controlling aspects of the game with their breathing.  For instance, the player might move a hot air balloon with their breathing, thus helping the balloon steer clear of potential obstacles.  Other levels see players take charge of astronauts in space.

The device is really easy to use, with a simple connector attaching it to the patients nebulizer.  A pressure sensor is then placed inside the air chamber to monitor inhalation and exhalation.  A simple USB connection to ones computer then allows what happens on the nebulizer to be communicated to the game environment.

The game is designed such that the better the patient performs their breathing, the better they perform in the game.  The settings can be adjusted based upon the prescription for each patient, thus allowing the whole process to be personalized completely for each player.

Check out the Jordi Stick in action via the video below.

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