April 24, 2003
by Dr. Max Gomez
Coney Island, New York-- Asthma is now the most common chronic disease in America and the number one reason after the common cold that children visit their doctor, are rushed to the emergency room and miss school.
But asthma can be controlled. Doctors are studying a new device that can help.
Imagine you're a kid with asthma, like eleven-year-old Samantha Bonnel. In order to prevent an asthma attack, stay out of the hospital and be able to go to school, you've got to take a number of medicines several times a day.
And adjust them depending on how your body's feeling that day, or you cold end up in the Emergency Room. “Like almost every week I was in the emergency room once in a while. I was in the hospital more than at work. She had been missing a lot of school in the past,” said Samantha’s mother, Vivienne Bonnel.
But now Samantha is getting help controlling her asthma from an Asthma buddy... That's a computerized in-home monitoring device. "It reminds me to take my medication in the morning because I know I have to answer the questions,” says Samantha. “But if I don't take it yet, I’m going to take it while I’m doing the questions."
Just as important, the Asthma Buddy sends the answers daily to a medical professional who's trained to recognize warning signs and who follows up with the children and family when necessary.
Doctors at Coney Island Hospital are doing a study along with American Medical Alert Company, who donated 100 asthma buddies, to see if it really helps keep Asthmatic kids healthier.
So far so good. “Out of all 68 patients, only one has had to come to the Emergency Room and be admitted,” says Dr. Warren Seigel, Adolescent Pediatrician. “Now this is really astounding to us because remember we went Right through the winter months.”
The Asthma Buddy has even made asthma less of a chore. “It's really fun. I'm able to do a lot more activities without my asthma acting up,” said Samantha.
The Coney Island study is focusing on kids from poorer families where asthma is two to three times higher than the national average, and where kids are far more likely to be hospitalized.
Hopefully, insurance will eventually cover the Asthma Buddy because it pays for itself by keeping kids out of the hospital.
This is not available to consumers at this time. The company who manufacturers It is American Medical Alert Corp.
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