Did you know that almost 30% of the worlds population is currently suffering from asthma? Since the 1970s, the number of people with asthma has steadily increased, and it is estimated that by 2019 a striking 400 million people worldwide will be living with this chronic disease. The cause for asthma is traced back to the environment we live in, genetic factors, and lifestyle. But not many people know that an active lifestyle could actually lead to less asthma symptoms and potentially even reduce the amount of asthma medication needed. Cenk Aytekin, a Turkish born designer and recent MA graduate from Umeå Institute of Design in Sweden, recently presented his ‘Asthma Wellness Kit’; a concept showing how holistic thinking and wellness can be incorporated into asthma care today.
The project, completed in collaboration with Philips Healthcare, suggests that an active lifestyle can be an alternative way to asthma management. Today’s asthma treatment is mainly focused on management through medication, and exercise is rarely promoted. Many asthmatics leave their running shoes at home believing that they cannot exercise due to their asthma diagnosis, but this cannot be farther from the truth. With the right guidance and support, an active lifestyle has many health-benefits for asthmatics in particular.
The largest barriers stopping asthmatics from regular exercising are the mental and physical barriers, both of which can be overcome through a combination of the right equipment, understanding the signals of an asthma attack, and proper motivation. Not knowing when, or being scared of the mere possibility of having an asthma attack during an exercise session becomes a huge mental barrier to an active lifestyle for many asthmatics.
An asthma attack can be triggered due to various reasons depending on the individual. The most common triggers during exercise are cold air and hyperventilation, which causes dried out airways. The ‘Asthma Wellness Kit’ includes a mouth-worn product which contains a built-in heat exchanger and peak-flow meter. The heat exchanger humidifies and levels the temperature of the inhaled air, while the peak-flow meter continously monitors airway contractions giving you early signals of a coming attack. Learning to distinguish exercise fatigue from asthma related symptoms is an important piece of knowledge that could lead to an increased feeling of safety.
The product together with its charging unit is designed as a piece in a holistic system containting support, guidance, and knowledge on motivational benefits. When buying this product the user will get access to an interactive online service complete with medical guidance, motivational stories, interactive forums, progress monitoring, a knowledge database, and weather information.
The ‘Asthma Wellness Kit’ is still at a concept stage with no plans for production at the moment
Images © Cenk Aytekin