Coaches, A New Approach To Treating Asthma

Posted at 1:46 PM, Aug 19, 2015

ST. LOUIS. (Ivanhoe Newswire) - One in 10 children are living with asthma right now. It’s a life-long condition and costs $18 billion a year in medical expenses, lost work and school days. Now, there’s a new approach to help your children’s health while saving time and money.

“I play second and short stop. One day I was just playing and all the sudden, I couldn’t just breathe,” Quin McCormac, an 11-year-old asthma patient, told Ivanhoe.

After Quin’s first attack, he had at least three attacks a day. His mother, Jenn McCormac, didn’t know what to do.

“What I wasn’t realizing is that the longer you wait, the more problems you are building up in their lungs,” she said.

Even after being diagnosed, there are many questions parents need answered.

“You have to know what to do when the child’s asthma symptoms get worse in a hurry and you have to know what to do to prevent them from having symptoms on a day to day basis,” Jane Garbutt, MD, Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis said.

Washington University is seeing if asthma coaches can help. They’re parents who have children with asthma and have been trained to help other parents learn the triggers, signs and symptoms.

“They’d want to know if their child could grow out of asthma. They had a lot concerns about the medications,” Dr. Garbutt explained.

Shannon Rook is a mother of two daughters with asthma.

“It was very difficult. What you don’t realize is that it’s a chronic illness and you have to stay on top of it every single day, every hour, every minute,” she said.

In one year, she went to the doctor 38 times. Now, she’s an asthma coach, talking to more than 300 families.

“It’s usually trying to find out what is getting in the way to getting their kids asthma more controlled,” she said.

Each family in the study had four hours of phone coaching each call lasting 10 minutes. They found the children whose parents were coached had three weeks more of symptom-free days. For kids on Medicaid, ER visits were reduced by 40 percent and hospital stays dropped by 60 percent.

“I would have loved to have an asthma coach when my child was newly diagnosed,” Rook told Ivanhoe.

Thanks to their coaching, Quin and his mom are both breathing much easier now.

The model used for the asthma coaching in St. Louis is now moving across the country. Web-based training begins for parents in New York this summer.

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