Grant Application

Geoffrey Kurland, MD, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC


Proposed Innovation

Asthma is a disease that inflames and constructs the airways, causing wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath. A common, chronic condition in children, asthma symptoms can usually be controlled through regular use of controllers, such as inhaled steroids, and the addition of rescue medications, such as albuterol. Despite improvements in asthma treatment and prevention, many children don’t remember to take their medications and don’t recognize situations that may lead to asthma attacks or early symptoms of asthma. As a result, they must often return to the Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital for treatment. Some even develop respiratory failure, requiring intubation and mechanical ventilation.

Through this project, an interactive video game will be developed to teach pediatric patients with asthma — and their parents — the importance of taking medication regularly to manage and prevent asthma.


Improvements in Action

Pulmonary and allergy specialists from Children’s Hospital will work with Simcoach Games to develop a video game with a simple goal: to avoid landing in the Emergency Department for care. Designed for children ages 8 to 14, the game will present players with various scenarios in which asthma can be prevented or provoked, depending on their responses. The game, which will be played on iPads®, will show patients how their actions impact their health, and improve their knowledge of asthma and asthma control skills.


Results – In Progress

The video game will be tested during a three-month pilot project by 75 to 100 patients recruited from the Pediatric Pulmonology and Pediatric Allergy clinics. Information gleaned from this initial stage will be used to improve the game before testing it during a year-long, randomized, controlled multi-center study of asthmatic children. The game is expected to have a major impact on asthma education, treatment, and prevention, leading to better lung health with fewer Emergency Department visits and hospitalizations.