Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder of body’s secretary glands which secrete mucus and sweat. Different organs like lungs, pancreas, liver, intestines, sinuses and sex organs can be affected by this disorder. One prominent symptom is that body is unable to produce slimy and sticky mucus which protects the air passage from the entry of any solid particles like dust or microbes.
The thick mucus produced instead can clog the air passage way making it difficult to breathe. People suffering from Cystic Fibrosis need to cough up the thick mucus so that it does not block the air passage. One common treatment is Chest Physical therapy or percussion in which we press the back of the patient with closed hands or use some mechanical means such as some vests that can break the thick mucus clumps before they can cause any blockage.
Then there are special breathing exercises which are hectic specially for children. Some students at university of Vermont have developed a video game that in which patients have to breathe in certain ways to score. Those breathing patterns are actually the exercises which otherwise children don’t like to practice. They prefer playing a video game than undergoing some boring exercise.
The controller for the game is the “spirometer” which can measure the breathing rate. There are different game types where players may either have to drive a car or fill it with the gas by using different breathing rhythms which can help them fight off the mucus issue they are facing. According to Peter M. Bingham, the lead author of the study and a neurologist:
The medical goal of the game was to increase breathing maneuvers that respiratory therapists believe can help keep the airways of cystic fibrosis patients clearer
The researchers have tested the game on children of different ages and found that those who played the game using the spirometer had better deep breath than those who continued with the regular exercises.
It may seem a small achievement but more research can open further avenues which can enable games and technology to fight off life threatening disorders.