Inspiration:

Nearly 65 million people in the world have been diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and consequently, it is the fourth highest leading cause of death on a global basis. Furthermore, lower respiratory infections account for the third highest spot on this list, making respiratory impairments a copious issue worldwide. Upon learning this information, we were immediately motivated to inquire about the treatments and current solutions to this global-scale concern. This is where we learned that the only plausible, effective treatment to many lower respiratory infections and COPD is Pulmonary Rehabilitation.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is an outpatient program that focuses upon bettering the quality of life of someone diagnosed with COPD or other respiratory diseases. This program can cost as much as $2,000, and it is not covered by insurance companies unless the company labels the recipient as an extreme / severe case. Incorporating the fact that more than 90% of deaths caused by respiratory diseases come from low to middle-income families, alongside the idea that majority of patients do not have the capabilities to commit to an outpatient program due to crippling disabilities or lack of energy, Pulmonary Rehabilitation becomes a far-out resource to those diagnosed.

Currently, the only solutions that have been created to this issue are home-based Pulmonary Rehabilitation sessions; however, in this case, prices are only driven up. Taking all of this into account, we were compelled to create a solution to this issue that is both conducive and effective, leading us to create Respirate, an application that consolidates all of the aspects of Pulmonary Rehabilitation onto the touch of a screen.

Our solution:

With the intent of making Pulmonary Rehabilitation a more practical, accessible resource to those diagnosed with COPD and other respiratory diseases, we created Respirate. Respirate offers the exercises, breathing techniques, and information from Pulmonary Rehabilitation within the mobile device of a diagnosed individual, allowing people to access this app to fit their schedules and make financial situations irrelevant.

What it does:

Every aspect within Respirate is a verified part of Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Our app includes five easy-to-do exercises that are directed towards improving lung capacity, air-flow, and much more. Each exercise comes with a respective video that demonstrates how to do it step-by-step and description of its purpose. The app also contains two breathing exercises, diaphragmatic breathing and pursed-lips breathing, that are crucial in strengthening the diaphragm and pacing breathing. Similarly to the exercises, these two techniques consist of respective videos and explanations of their purposes. Continuing on, the todo-list takes all these exercises and techniques that a person needs to complete and consolidates them by time and sets. The user is then able to add exercises to his / her to-do list, and he / she is able to manage it as well. Upon checking an exercise off, the user is met with a motivating audio message that congratulates them on completing a session. The user could also set reminders in order to help get them done in time, for, upon launching the application, the user is immediately met with a notification that alerts him / her to do his / her exercises for the day. Next up, the user has the ability to access a BMI calculator. Through computing the BMI of a user, the calculator outputs an individual's BMI, along with a personalized message that gives a recommended dietary and physical course of action for that respective BMI. Finally, Respirate fuses an education tab as well, which intends to allow an individual to learn more about their disease and how to cope with it.

Challenges:

Perhaps the most frequent challenge we ran into throughout the process of creating our app was the syntax of coding. Both of us were relatively inexperienced in programming, especially with a software as simplistic as MIT App Inventory. We approached our school advisers, spoke with past competitors, and watched multiple online videos in order to overcome this issue. The areas that we had issues with included our BMI calculator, the to-do list, and creating notifications; however, after determination and perseverance to solve any coding issues, these challenges were overcome. We worked to develop our app to our furthest, personal extent and gave a prototype to our advisers, Mrs. Deborah Massengill and Mrs. Jennifer Ogren, to receive some feedback. Based on their feedback, we greatly improved Respirate from its initial, prototype standard. One improvement was within the BMI calculator, for, at first, it was in metric terms; however, we realized that majority of the people who tested our app did not know their weight or height in metric units.This is when we decided to switch the calculator to use US customary unit. Another suggestion was to create a Help screen to clear out any confusion that a user may have with the application. All in all, the feedback aided in making Respirate much more user-friendly.

Lesson Learned:

We learned how to code using MIT app inventor and we have realized that we are in the digital age. Coding and app design is a career that we could look into in the future, for we have definitely realized the possibilities of it. MIT App Inventor differs from other coding languages in that it is created based upon logic. We just needed to use the correct syntax in order to make the code to work. In the future, would like to create more applications through MIT App Inventor, and keep our ideas related to medical issues.

What's next for Respirate:

Our next plan is to let those who have respiratory diseases, especially COPD, actually utilize it. One approach is to contact clinics and ask them to use our app and see if it has a positive impact on patients. COPD and other respiratory diseases affect people around the world not only in English speaking countries. Another step we have in mind is to make our app into different languages such as Spanish, Chinese, French (etc) to make it accessible on an international basis as well. Lastly, another advancement we would like to create is an index that allows people with similar diseases in a localized region to meet up and create support groups. This is an important part of Pulmonary Rehabilitation, for it allows those diagnosed to better understand their personal standpoints and understand that they are not alone in their disease. Creating this kind of index would allow people to still meet; however, once again, it would re-enforce Respirate's ideology of convenience, and people could meet based upon their own fitting.

Respirate was by Jeffrey Li and Udai Virk of Enloe High School Academy of Health Sciences, Raleigh, NC.

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