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Devices Review - Funhaler
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 03:18

At our recent Asthma Educator's Course, many participants were unaware of the Funhaler device.


The Funhaler is a unique device (registered on the TGA) that is designed to promote deep breathing by children using the device to take their respiratory medication by rewarding children with fun incentives.  The Funhaler's mouthpiece is placed in the child's mouth or if using the mask, the mask is placed over the child's mouth and nose.


The Funhaler's unique internal spinner and whistle encourages the child to breathe normally.  Whilst the child is breathing through the Funhaler the parent applies the correct medication dosage.


In a study at Princess Mark Hospital for Children in Western Australia, the Funhaler was shown to have the following advantages:


  • Parents were 38% more likely to regularly offer inhaler medication using the Funhaler device compared with normal spacers, and
  • Adherence to recommended spacer technique increased by 60% with the Funhaler.
  • Parents expressed preference for the Funhaler over conventional spacers.

Asthma Breakthrough: treating the right airways
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 03:07

Emerging research at The Alfred may hold the answer for sufferers of severe asthma.


Professor Bruce Thompson, Head Physiology Service in Allergy, Immunology and Respiratory Medicine (AIRMed) at The Alfred suggests that current medications for severe asthma have not been particularly effective because they are treating the wrong airways.  Most people with asthma use an inhaler but that treatment only reaches the medium to large central airways.  However, in severe asthma, the main focus of the issue occurs in the peripheral small airways.


Professor Thompson and fellow Alfred chief investigator Professor Robyn O'Hehir, AIRMed Director, plan to build on promising preliminary research showing that the small airways are the predominant problem area for asthma patients, with a new study to be jointly performed with the Royal North Shore Hospital.


"If this research shows that improving outcomes for patients with asthma is as simple as inhaling a smaller particle drug this will fundamentally alter current treatments; not only those with severe and unstable asthma but also those with milder forms of the disease." Professor Thompson said.


The study will recruit 120 patients aged 18-55 years with severe asthma.  Recruitment will begin in 2016 with results to be analysed in 2019.


We need to ensure patients are on top of their asthma management and that their asthma action plan to ensure it is current and to be aware of when to take action if required.


Asthma action plans are available on the NAC website.



From the Northern Territory
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 02:57

Suzanne Harwood and Michelle O'Loughlan (pictured L to R) of the Respiratory Unit, Royal Darwin Hospital, NT, presented their work on  "Addressing the Communication Gaps in Self-Management Education for NT Top End Indigenous People With Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Using An Oral Communication Tool." at the Nurses Special Interest Group meeting at the annual scientific meeting of the TSANZ.


The Northern Territory top end is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world.


As COPD is the fifth leading cause of admissions to hospital in the top end, the team aimed to reduce the rise of admission by improving self-management through education.  As many of the communities are remote and 79% speak primarily an indigenous language at home, language barriers create significant miscommunications and gaps limiting participation in COPD self-management education.


Audio communication is the key in this group as their language was and is only ever spoken.


Their development of talking boards for COPD action plans showed great innovation and highlights the success of using appropriate medium and language tailored for an audience when existing tools are not achieving results.


The boards have push button style recorded messages which have the COPD action plan information translated into Tiwi, Murrinh Patha and Yolyngu.  They have been positively received by indigenous leaders and respiratory patients.


If you would like any further information about this work, please contact the Centre on (03) 9076 2382 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Welcome - Janet Williams, Manager
Wednesday, 22 April 2015 02:48

Welcome to our Autumn newsletter - a new year and a new beginning for the Centre.


You may be aware that Adrienne James has recently retired from her role as manager of the Centre.  Adrienne's enthusiasm and passion drove the Centre over the last two decades, building the Centre and delivering education to a diverse audience of over 4000 health professionals.  We wish Adrienne well with her adventures.


As the Centre's newly appointed manager I have been charged with leading the Centre on its next phase - delivering education in the digital age.  I am an experienced, practicing respiratory and vascular nurse and have been part of the Centre's team for the last seven years.


A comprehensive review of the Centre's offerings is underway, enduring the Centre maintains its brief as the Centre of excellence for the delivery of holistic lung health education with programs that are current, relevant and accessible.


I attended the recent TSANZ/ANZRS conference on the Gold Coast in March.  Keynote presentations included Asthma and COPD overlap syndrome (ACOS) and presentations to the Nurses Special Interest Group on a wide variety of topics including work in the Northern Territory and in New Zealand on the development of a book for COPD "Don't Forget to Breathe" were in turn both informative and inspirational.  Extracts from the conference will appear in the next newsletter.


We hope you enjoy this newsletter.


Janet Williams


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