Grant Application

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

Proposed Innovation

Asthma is a common, chronic condition in children. Although symptoms usually can be controlled through regular use of inhaled steroids and other medicine, children often have trouble remembering to take their medicine or recognizing when medicine is needed. In 2016, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh teamed up with Simcoach Games to create a video game to teach children and parents the importance of taking asthma medicines correctly.

This project builds on the success of the prototype by creating an advanced version of the Asthma Game with character voice-over that is easier for younger and less literate children to use and learn from.

Improvements in Action

Pulmonary and allergy specialists from UPMC Children’s will work with Simcoach Games to improve the game and make it available on hand-held devices for easier access. Designed for children, the game is built around three scenarios featuring children who want to avoid a trip to the hospital so they don’t miss out on a special activity. Asthma can be prevented or triggered by their responses.

To test long-term knowledge retention, 100 asthmatic children will be recruited to take a pre-test and an “asthma control test” before playing the advanced version of the game. The children will return four weeks later to re-test their knowledge.

Intended Outcomes

Information gleaned from this test phase will be used to design a larger, multi-center one- to two-year trial of asthma prevention using the Asthma Game. Children with a history of hospital readmissions and non-compliance with prescribed medicine will be recruited to test the effectiveness of the game in reducing emergency department visits and hospital stays for treatment of asthma attacks.