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Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Date:3/16/2009

flammation that compromises breathing, even in the absence of active symptoms.

"The medication helps them avoid having shortness of breath, wheezing or nighttime awakenings, and helps them avoid having to go to the ER and the hospital," she said. "But, unfortunately, there are all sorts of reasons kids don't take their medication. Things as simple as, 'Oh, I forgot,' to the social stigma associated with taking them, such as the idea that if you have asthma, you can't play sports -- which is not true."

The sports study enrolled 21 boys and girls, 6 to 12 years old, in a one-day camp. All had asthma diagnoses and, during camp, all were exposed to comprehensive asthma information workshops as well as basketball skills training.

Although no change was observed in terms of the frequency with which the children used their oral steroid medications, follow-up surveys two and four months later revealed fewer physician visits and a trend toward decreased use of hospital emergency rooms.

In the music study, Mosnaim and her colleagues assembled a group of three boys and one girl, 12 to 18 years old and all from inner city, low-income, African-American families. All the youths had been diagnosed with moderate but persistent asthma and had a history of repeated ER visits for asthma treatment.

The kids were asked to form a makeshift musical group, tasked with devising beat-box and vocal percussion-driven asthma informational messages for their own consumption. The audio messages were then incorporated into a play-list of popular music tracks on iPod Shuffles, which would play the music and messages in no predictable or controllable order.

After eight weeks of routine listening to their iPods --coupled with twice daily phone calls to remind the youths to take their medications -- Mosnaim's team found that the group's general knowledge of asthma had improved, and their drug compliance had rocketed to more than 70 percent
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