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Virtual pet game manages asthma

By Ivanhoe Newswire 5:38 PM June 17, 2014
BOSTON –

Studies show the average length of time children spend playing video games is 13.2 hours per week. One company is putting that gaming time to good use creating fun, interactive games to help manage their health issues.

Nine-year-old Allison Wu is an avid gymnast, but sometimes her asthma can make her body feel off balance.

“Normally I start to cough a lot, and sometimes it bothers my throat, and when it, like, really bothers me, I start to wheeze,” Allison told Ivanhoe.

A new video game, called Wellapets, uses virtual pets to help kids with asthma understand and manage it.

“I am going to give my pet, um, the inhaler,” Allison said.

A lovable fire-breathing dragon becomes the child’s pet. The only way to help him blow fire is to properly manage his asthma.

“I learned about that, like, cockroaches and smoke are not good,” Allison said.

As a mom and pediatrician, this is one video game Allison’s mom, Ann Wu, wants her to play.

“She’s learning how to take ownership of her own illness and not needing me for everything,” Ann told Ivanhoe.

The game also teaches children about asthma triggers — like smog and reminds children how and when to use their medication properly.

“Taking your inhaler with the right technique. Taking your controller inhaler at the right time. Learning how to avoid triggers and learning how to recognize your own asthma symptoms and take action for those,” Alexander Ryu, Wellapets co-founder/CEO, told Ivanhoe.

Even those who don’t have asthma are enjoying the game and better understand what their siblings and friends go through.

It’s a free app and can be downloaded at Google Play and the Apple Store. Lifeguard Games, the developer of Wellapets, say they plan to roll out a host of games to help manage food allergies, diabetes and other health issues.

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