Microsoft Helping with Cystic Fibrosis Tech Project
Physiotherapists are working together with Microsoft on a ground-breaking project to help children with cystic fibrosis (CF)
Microsoft have joined forces with University College London’s physiotherapy department to create computer games which are designed to motivate children with CF to do breathing exercises. These exercises are needed to clear their lungs as CF sufferers are prone to contracting lung infections due to the heightened build-up of thick secretions.
The innovative project, named ‘Fizzyo’, featured in the BBC documentary Big Life Fix, which brought together technology experts. The experts then developed ways of tackling real life challenges that people face. In the programme, ‘Fizzyo’ was tried and tested on two boys who suffered from CF and who had a love for video-gaming.
Innovation Director at Microsoft Research, Haiyan Zhang, explained that the project takes conventional airway clearance devices and inserts a wireless chipped electronic sensor into the mouthpiece. As the user exhales, the sensor sends electronic signals that then control computer games on a tablet.
Professor Main, one of the university’s physio staff, explained that the BBC documentary showcased an early prototype of the device and that there have been three further designs of the electronic sensor that can fit a range of airway clearance devices and are easier to clean. Main also said that a key part of the project is collecting data which could inform clinicians about compliance with airway clearance and its effectiveness. There should be 100 devices ready for testing by September 2017.
‘The boys in Cornwall are quite obsessed with computer games, so it was a way in for them,’ said Professor Main. ‘But is it a way in for everyone? We don’t know this yet.’
Professor Main will be speaking at the CSP’s Physiotherapy UK conference in Birmingham from 10-11 November about what the future of digital healthcare will look like.