In order for asthma inhalers to perform effectively, the discharged medicine must be taken in coordination with a deep breath. This action can be very difficult for young children gasping in the midst of an attack. In these cases, supplementary devices called spacers are used to capture and hold the medicine until the user is ready to inhale. Over 8 million children in Mexico suffer from asthma who are without proper medical care or preventative measures and spacers, at more than $50 a piece, are far too costly for Mexican health centers to stock.
Stanford's Design and Medical Schools teamed up to face this obstacle, creating a super cost-effective and easily distributed solution. With a cost reduction of over 99% (dang), the flat-pack, foldable paper Respira spacers can be shipped by the hundreds for the cost of a stamp.
In the long term, we believe this innovation is sufficiently affordable and easy-to-use that it can be distributed directly to patients and their families. Used in the home, this device will enable not only the rapid treatment of acute attacks, but also a more comprehensive prevention strategy. Patients would use the spacer together with an inhaler to give the preventive medication that is known to dramatically decrease the number of acute attacks.
This rethinking of asthma management will yield savings and improvements in quality of life for patients and their families. The reduced cost will benefit the Mexican health care system, which will avoid unnecessary, expensive emergency room treatments, as well as patients' families, who will save bus fares and lost wages. With the knowledge that treatment is easily accessible, or even in the home, the anxiety and limitations in activity that plague asthma sufferers and their families will be greatly diminished. Importantly, this simple device empowers asthma patients and their families to take an active role in managing their disease.