Excerpt By Janice
Jr. has stared down more than a few bad guys in his string of Hollywood
Now you can add
childhood asthma to the list.
actor plays an action character in a new CD-ROM game designed to
help kids with asthma control their disease.
for the Code," for children ages 7 to 15, sends them on an
interactive mission to "kill" asthma villains like mold
and smoke. It also teaches them how to recognize their asthma symptoms,
measure their lung functioning and take their medication properly.
make the child a part of the team, you have a much better outcome,"
says Dr. Gary Rachelefsky, a Los Angeles pediatric asthma specialist
who was the consultant for the game. "No matter what the age,
if the patient isn't brought into the process, the treatment will
that involving children in the management of their asthma can greatly
reduce their hospital visits.
points to successful self-management programs like Asthma Care Training
for Kids (ACT). They've been used by approximately 10,000 children,
and have decreased hospitalization and emergency room visits by
40 percent, and decreased patients' symptoms such as coughing and
wheezing by 60 percent.
are formal programs that need referrals and are not inexpensive,"
in contrast, is being distributed for free through the Home Shopping
Network. It was created by the STARBRIGHT Foundation, which is "dedicated
to the development of projects that empower seriously ill children
to combat the medical and emotional challenges they face on a daily
basis." Funding for the game came from drug maker GlaxoSmithKline.
plans to have several computers in his office waiting room so children
can play the game there. There are 100,000 copies of the CD, which
is available in English and Spanish.
Asthma is the
most common chronic illness among American children, the leading
cause of school absenteeism attributed to chronic conditions, and
the primary cause of hospitalizations for children under 15 years
Nearly 8 million
American children have been diagnosed with asthma, according to
the American Lung Association. And the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services reports that prevalence of the disease increased
by 160 percent from 1980 to 1994.
game, which also includes voice-overs by a range of celebrities
from Gwyneth Paltrow to Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, has three goals,
is to establish that asthma is a chronic illness, and that the triggers
like coughing or wheezing are simply the end result of a chronic
inflammatory process, which is present all the time," he says.
Second is to
emphasize that "children have the capacity to make their own
decisions in managing their asthma," like knowing to stay away
from a smoker, and taking their medication 10 or 15 minutes before
Third is to
teach them about the asthma triggers that exist at home, school
and elsewhere, so they have the knowledge to manage them.
wants children to understand that "asthma is controllable,
and that no child should ever be limited by the disease."
Fusillo, director of pediatric allergy at the Westchester Medical
Center in Valhalla, N.Y., calls the CD-ROM game "a good idea."
of asthma has been shown to be effective, and children of this age
are computer-savvy and like to play games," she says. "For
kids, it's an appropriate way to at least try to reach them."
For a free
copy of "Quest for the Code," visit the STARBRIGHT
Foundation. To learn more about childhood asthma, check with
American Lung Association.
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