New Card Game Helps Kids Trump Asthma

New Card Game Helps

Kids Trump Asthma

By Gina M. Toth, MSN, RN, RNC

There are somewhere between four and five million children with asthma in the U.S. today, and asthma continues to under-treated or under-diagnosed for many youngsters, especially younger children. This is somewhat surprising, since the onset of asthma in the majority of children begins before the age of four.

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More troubling, however, is the fact that asthma mortality and morbidity are increasing at an annual rate of 6.2 percent while the general public’s understanding of asthma is generally decreasing.

Asthma remains the most frequent cause of school absences, ER visits and hospitalizations for children. Youths under the age of four years are more likely to be hospitalized for their asthma than are older youngsters.

Things will probably get worse in the near future rather than better, if current trends persist. Increased pollution, a lack of effective asthma management, a lack of access to medical care and changes in severity of the disease will play their respective parts to bring about an increase in the use of ER services as a primary care center for dealing with asthma-related problems.

EDUCATIONAL TOOLS MISSING

Also playing a role in mismanagement will be the lack of educational tools suitable to turn the situation around. There is currently a shortage of programs addressing the specific educational needs of pre-school age children and children under the age of 8. Most literature currently available for asthmatics and their parents is written far above that age group’s level of comprehension.

Studies have further shown that pamphlets, workbooks and common patient education materials when used alone have only a limited effect on behavioral changes and do little to increase an individual’s knowledge of the disease.

There is, of course, no cure for asthma, but early detection and proper management can reduce its severity. To accomplish that goal, children need to learn to manage their own asthma by controlling triggers at home and at school, where they spend most of their time.

TOTAL INVOLVEMENT

In asthma education programs, children, parents and caregivers all need to be involved in the management of the child’s asthma, so it is just as important to educate the parents as it is the children. And since parents of younger asthmatics will be responsible for monitoring and educating their own children, they must get the bulk of the training.

Asthma management education works best if it is provided to children and their family members in the relaxed atmospheres of their homes rather than in more rigid clinical settings.

To help in this process, I have designed The Inspiration Game, a special deck of colorful cards that can be used to play a variety of card games. The game is designed to reinforce instructions, promote family units, and bring laughter and smiles into the home. The games augment information children and their parents receive from caregivers in a hospital or physician’s office.

The game is specifically targeted at children between the ages of 4 and 8 years because youngsters in this age group learn best through playing games.

The Inspiration Game consists of a 52-card deck and an accompanying informative booklet. The cards and booklet feature brighly colored pictures aimed at capturing the child’s attention. Unlike traditional hearts, clubs, spades and diamonds, the cards are color-coded in four suits (red, yellow, blue and green). Each of the 13 cards in the color-coded suits represents one area of asthma education. They correlate to parts of the respiratory system, asthma triggers, asthma prevention techniques and asthma definitions.

Games that can be played include a memory game, flash-card game, Old Lung (a version of Old Maid), Go Fish and Slap the Smoker (a variation of Slap Jack).

The booklet is designed to augment educational components.

I do have a personal mission in presenting the care game to the public. When I was an asthmatic child, my parents had little access to any type of asthma educational tools or materials. We were fortunate because we had an excellent, knowledgeable pediatrician to help us wind through the maze of care. Because of his expertise and the care of my parents, I did learn to manage and cope.

But others are not as lucky. Even with an increased number of educational tools and programs available today, there are many families who are left in the dark about managing asthma. The Inspiration Game was designed to turn the situation around. The game provides an interactive way for families and children to manage and cope with asthma.

To order a copy of the game, contact Gina Toth at (215) 674-1867. Single copies are $19.95. Multiples are $15.95 each.

Gina M. Toth, Hatboro, Pa., is the creator of The Inspiration Game and is the president of Wild Things Productions Inc.

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