Asthma UK community forum

Design of a new inhaler

Hello, I'm a design student at the University of Leeds, and have chosen this year to re-design asthma inhalers. My project is in the very early stages at the moment and I would appreciate any help and advice any one can give me, or any problems you have faced. My idea is to make it easier for a child to be more independent using an inhaler.

I have spoken to a few parents of children who have asthma and they have said that at times they are unsure if their child is taking their dose correctly. Their child can often be quite frustrated and agitated, especially before bed, when using their inhaler. I wondered if this is common problem?

Any other problems you could bring to my attention would be very much appreciated :)


1 Reply

Hi, I'm not a parent/child, so I hope you don't mind me posting, but I think I can help as I have severe dyspraxia (and other issues) resulting in some 'interesting' coordination problems in using inhalers:

I've tried an inhaler you had to put a capsule in and then inhale the power - bad idea, the capsule regularly went flying trying to get it in the little hole! This was solved by transferring to Spririva Respimat which for me is a great device, but has to be pressed quite hard to activate it (although you definitely know you've used it and exactly how much is left)

At one point I was using Turbohaler (I think that's the name) - I got into a right panic with this initially because I was convinced the numbers weren't going down as they went in 5s (I think) when I was expecting them to go in ones. Just an explanation/pictures of this int he instructions would have made a lot of difference.

I use several MDIs (normal 'puffers'). The biggest problem I have is coordinating pressing these and breathing. This is solved by using spacers with each but it's annoying they don't all fit the same spacer (the one they might all fit - the Aerochamber - is a very tight fit with one inhaler and affects the sealing of the others plus is tough to push in and pull out).

I get on best with the spacer/puffers because I can see/taste (yuck!) doses and have generally got the hang of knowing how long each inhaler lasts. This is OK for home use, but I would LOVE someone to invent something easier to carry around and use when out. I've got over any embarrassment of needing my Volumatic large volume spacer, but it's bloomin' awkward to carry around, I worry about breaking it as it doesn't have any case/package to protect it and takes up loads of room in my bag. I also wonder whether it would be possible to invent some sort of pop-up model!!

The other issue I have with a spacer which may relate more to your question is that if I'm needing it when I'm bad/during an acute attack, the effort involved in holding it adds to my exhaustion.

Of course, however good the design, it must be emphasised that inhaler technique is checked with an asthma nurse/doctor - that's got to give the greatest peace of mind.


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