Focus on helping children with cystic fibrosis is not limited to the large number of clinical trials and scientific studies designed to improve the breathing difficulties, chest infections, and digestive problems of patients. Academics at the University of Stirling are developing a multimedia support kit that uses DVD, smartphone apps, and the internet to make adherence to daily cystic fibrosis physiotherapy sessions more appealing for children and their families. The project, which is led by Dr. Emma France, is funded by the Chief Scientist Office of Scottish Government and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. According to Dr. France, “When daily chest physiotherapy was perceived as difficult by children and their families, physiotherapy sessions were often skipped. In developing this new audio-visual package, filled with a range of engaging activities, our work will lead to a cost-effective and accessible intervention tool. It will change the way children and their carers experience their condition and treatment, particularly in the crucial early years when commitment to that treatment is so vital.”
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The kit encourages children with cystic fibrosis and their parents to adopt a more optimistic outlook on chest physiotherapy by providing them with enjoyable strategies such as activities, games, and songs. One idea for the kit that has been proposed by the team includes clearing the lungs by blowing through a straw to move a Ping-Pong ball around a table. Other ideas are intended to keep children and parents in a jovial atmosphere during therapy by singing songs, telling stories, or watching television programs during treatment.
Hopefully, the kit will be adopted by multiple organizations and disseminated widely to achieve the goal of an increase in physiotherapy treatment adherence in young children with cystic fibrosis. “That is why our Chief Scientist Office has provided £188,000 funding for this research into a debilitating condition, which was identified as a national priority for children and young people’s services in Scotland,” said Michael Matherson, Minister for Public Health. “I hope this research will inform further improvement in the care and treatment of those affected by cystic fibrosis.” Added Dr. Janet Allen, Director of Research at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, “The support kit created from this research project will provide inspiration and encouragement. We hope it will change families’ perceptions of cystic fibrosis and chest physiotherapy treatment by reassuring them that support is available and showing them how the treatment can be turned into an enjoyable experience.”