RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – For people who suffer from asthma, attacks can be scary and dangerous, but local researchers are working on a device that could predict and ultimately prevent asthma attacks.
Every week Darrien Reeves gets numerous shots to control his severe asthma.
That’s on top of his daily medications and inhaler for emergencies.
“He really has to be aware of his symptoms to prevent an attack,” explained his mother, Charlotte Reeves.
At UNC Hospital Children’s Clinic in Raleigh, Darrien Reeves’ doctors are testing a device that may make it easier to prevent asthma attacks. It’s a portable spirometer that measures lung function.
“This is in the beginning stages. Right now, they’re trying to calibrate the devices to well tested models,” explained Dr. Michelle Hernandez.
The spirometer could Eventually be part of a larger device researchers are working on at NC State. It would also include a wearable chest patch and wristband.
“We’re constantly measuring their heart rate, their motion, from the chest patch, skin hydration. Then from the wristband, we’re measuring ozone, volitile organic compounds the basic air quality they’re exposed to,” said James Dieffenderfer, a PhD student at NC State.
“The biggest benefit of this device is measuring environment and health simultaneously,” added Alper Bozkurt, an assistant professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at North Carolina State University.
Combined data from the three devices will go to a smart phone and onto the cloud to alert patients, physicians, or caretakers when they might be vulnerable to an asthma attack.
“If there’s a trigger that’s showing the child’s going through an asthmatic response the inhaler can be given and also it can be understood this person should not be in this environment because it causes them to have asthma,” said N.C. State’s Veena Misra. She’s the director of the Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies Center where researchers are working on the device.
Researchers say the device could be available to patients within two to three years.
Darrien Reeves says it’s a device he’d certainly consider if it goes on the market.