Dieter Kirsch’s son Jordi has cystic fibrosis. A few years ago, that could have been a death sentence. But fortunately thanks to new medications, people with cystic fibrosis are now living longer, healthier, happier lives. All this depends on the patient successfully taking nebulizer treatments, which requires that they “sit still for a half an hour or more every day, breathing at exactly the right speed and depth.” This can be a challenge for adults, but it’s especially difficult for energetic, short-attention span toddlers.
So Kirsch, knowing how important these treatments are for his son, turned it into a game. Specifically, a videogame. He came up with and funded the making of a device that attaches to a nebulizer set and measures the pressure in the nebulizer tube. It then sends this info to a computer via USB, allowing the patient to control the results of a videogame by the speed and depth of his or her breathing.
The device is called the Jordi-Stick and there are currently two games for it. In one, kids pilot a hot air balloon and try to avoid obstacles. In the other, kids play an astronaut flying through space trying to collect items and avoid asteroids.
Kirsch is hoping to start selling the Jordi-Stick internationally. It can be used with almost any nebulizer and the games allow you to set a target breathing rate and pressure to match each patient’s prescription.