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Breathing Video Games

May 24, 2011

Kids with cystic fibrosis are trying a video game-based breathing therapy.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Blowing at video games…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many kids with cystic fibrosis, a chronic lung disease, do a kind of breathing therapy called “huffing” – a series of sharp exhales to clear their airways. It’s meant to be done several times a day, but kids get bored with it and slack off. So University of Vermont pediatric neurologist Peter Bingham and game design students at Champlain College adapted it into two different video games.

PETER BINGHAM (University of Vermont):

And one game, you breathe, you do a forced exhalation, to charge up a racecar, and it drives the car on the track.

HIRSHON:

In the other game, you’re spraying slime off of exotic animals from a helicopter. Bingham’s team found that kids’ lung function improved when they played the game for two to four weeks, but not when they huffed on a similar game-free apparatus. Now they’ll try to find out if the game makes kids more diligent about huffing at home. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.