Image: Credit: Saberi Marais

CAPE TOWN - Local biomedical engineers at the Medical Devices Laboratory of the University of Cape Town (UCT) have designed a device to help to improve the quality of life for asthma sufferers.


(Image: The Easy Squeezy) 

The device, called the Easy Squeezy (a novel device) is an attachment sleeve that fits over a standard inhaler which reduces the force required to activate the inhaler by approximately two thirds, making it manageable for most children and elderly asthma sufferers.

Associate Professor Sudesh Sivarasu, Associate Professor Michael Levin, Giancarlo Beukes and Gokul Nair are part of UCT’s Medical Devices Group, which develops affordable medical technologies.

The aim of this venture is to change the lives of those who cannot afford expensive medical technologies as they believe health care is a core human right.

The creators of the Easy Squeezy believe that it has the potential to reduce the annual morbidity rate in South Africa of 1.5% among sufferers. 

 Head of the Division of Asthma and Allergy at UCT, Associate Prof Levin is all too familiar with this challenge.

“We spend a lot of our time counseling patients about the importance of using their pumps every day with the best possible technique. And often we place blame on them when they don’t use them every day. But what if they are trying, but just can’t manage to get it right?” he asks.

 Watching his patients, including his own daughter, having difficulty using their pumps inspired the thought: "what if we could make a way of pressing the pumps easier?"

According to Prof Sivarasu, the Easy Squeezy is designed for asthma sufferers from as young as five years to those over 70 years of age – they have different needs but the device suits them both.

 “We want to destigmatise the use of asthma pumps for children and have designed the sleeve to be similar to a Lego toy collectible. It’s somewhat of a ‘build-your-own’ asthma pump,” he says.

 The device ensures that both children and the elderly are able to use their pumps without assistance, indicates how many doses are left in a pump, and helps to alleviate the stigma many children experience when using the pump because their favourite figurines can be attached to it.

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