Augmented reality app developed to improve asthma inhaler technique

An augmented reality and game play asthma training app has been launched which improves the training of correct inhaler technique.

MySpira is a metered dose inhaler training app to utilise the new augmented reality functionality, released by Google (AR Core) and Apple (AR Kit).

The app has been developed by Orbital Media in collaboration with University of Suffolk via a Knowledge Transfer Partnership, part funded by Innovate UK and the Arts & Humanities Research Council. The university provided consultancy, research, development support and a graduate work placement.

In a recent study of 96 children aged 6-13, a steady increase of information recall was observed with the MySpira app, over traditional asthma/inhaler education methods, such as leaflets and videos. Specifically, MySpira demonstrated an overall score that was 26% better than videos and 70% better than leaflets.

Dr. Simon Rudland, partner at Stowhealth and medical advisor to MySpira said: “Asthma can be a life-threatening condition but managing it properly can help keep sufferers symptom free. It is important that children are taught from a young age so they can take control of their asthma. The initial results of this research are extremely promising, improving both technique and compliance. Not only does this lead to better health long-term, but if adopted nationwide, could dramatically reduce the number of emergency cases, resulting in fewer hospitalisations. We are looking at integrating this app into our existing asthma support services in the future.”

Various studies have shown that up to 93% of asthma sufferers use their inhalers incorrectly, which can result in less than 5% of the medicine reaching where it’s needed in the lungs. Where proper inhaler training programmes have been put in place, emergency admissions have been reduced by 50% and asthma deaths by 75%. In fact, the National Review of Asthma Deaths in 2014 concluded that two thirds of asthma deaths would be preventable by better management.

Karyn McBride, asthma nurse and medical advisor to MySpira 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.”

Supplementing existing asthma care educational materials, MySpira introduces likable characters and tactile interactions, to engage children suffering with asthma. Throughout the enjoyable 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.

Peter Brady, CEO of Orbital Media, said: “Asthma affects 5.4 million people in the UK, 1.1 million of whom are children, and costs the NHS £1.1 billion per annum. Our vision was to develop an application to improve educational content, which would ultimately cut the number of preventable child deaths. In addition, MySpira helps children gain confidence about self-care; engaging and teaching them how to manage asthma independently. It puts them back in control of their condition and is something they will take with them into adulthood. It’s hugely exciting for Orbital Media to be at the forefront of this technology, which could have a huge impact in reducing asthma attacks in children, as well as saving the NHS millions of pounds. We’d also like to thank the children of our local schools, who have supported us by trialling the app.”



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