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Asthma Doll: October 9, 2011

When they started an asthma management program at Lee Memorial Health System, they originally worked with children five and up.

“Then we realized with the rise of asthma we definitely need to be teaching all ages. Our youngest child is approximately a year old,” says Theresa Summe Asthma Management Coordinator for Lee Memorial Health System.

That meant finding a way to reach even the tiniest child on a level they could understand.

“We have an asthma doll called Radical Randy. And we work with the children, we have them put the mask on,” says Summe.

This doll gives them a hands on opportunity to explore their disease.

“We start out with little faces, and generally what they’ll say is they’ve come from the hospital, so they’re sad, they’ll pick their face, how do you feel today? And they’re crying,” says Summe.

It makes the condition less scary when children can see what’s going on inside their body.

“We teach them first of all that this is their stomach, and then we teach them these are your ribs,” says Summe.

Once a child can spot things that might trigger an asthma attack, they’re ready to learn how to treat it.

“We show them the doll can’t breathe, the doll’s unable to take a breath, what do you do? At first they don’t have a clue but eventually by the second or third visit they’re giving their doll the medication,” says Summe.

The program is paying off teaching toddlers to communicate their feelings and older children to manage their health.

“We have phenomenal results because these patients have really been on board following all the education and instructions. We’ve had approximately a 92% decrease in hospital admissions, ER visits and about an 80% decrease in kids missing school,” says Summe.

With a doll as their teacher, curious kids have something to hold on to.