With the support of a Foundation East loan, Playphysio has created a device that makes the tedious physiotherapy treatment that Cystic Fibrosis (CF) sufferers endure daily, into a fun activity. The device, which links to a mobile phone, increases the CF sufferer’s compliance with their treatment, thereby improving health outcomes for both them and their family, as well as reducing the cost of care on the NHS...
It currently costs the NHS over £100m a year to serve the needs of the UK’s 10,000 Cystic Fibrosis (CF) sufferers. 4,000 of these CF sufferers are children who, as well as having to deal with this debilitating genetic disease, also endure feelings of isolation and frustration.
Will Jackson’s 8-year-old daughter has CF, which requires her to undertake monotonous and boring blowing exercises twice a day. Like most young people who are CF sufferers, she has to be constantly nagged to do her exercises.
Knowing that undertaking the respiratory exercises is essential for the health of his daughter, Will, a software developer by profession, decided to invent PlayPhysioPal, an electronic physiotherapy monitoring device that would make complying with the exercise routine into a fun and interactive game that children, in particular, would enjoy as it enables users to play in a virtual gaming world, with other CF sufferers.
Using a prototype blowing device that linked his daughter’s chest monitor to a mobile phone, trials were undertaken with a small focus group from Cambridge’s Addenbrookes Hospital. The success of the trials very quickly led to a full clinical investigation.
During this time Will had been selected to participate in the Cambridge Social Ventures (CSV) programme, a programme that assists entrepreneurs to develop and potentially scale their socially focussed businesses. Foundation East, as partners in the CSV programme, agreed to provide a £20,000 loan to match funding already secured from UnLtd’s ‘Big Venture Challenge’ fund, to manufacture more PlayPhysioPals to enable the wider trial.
The full medical trial is currently underway and is due to be presented at the EU’s Cystic Fibrosis Conference in spring 2019. Birmingham Heartlands hospital is currently applying for funding to undertake further trials in Birmingham and Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge as a combined study into the feasibility and health economics of PlayPhysioPal and its impact on CF treatment compliance. If successful, a national trial will follow.
It is hoped that these trials will lead to the obtaining of a Medical and Healthcare Regulatory Agency classification which will enable doctors and other healthcare professionals to prescribe PlayPhysioPal to 400 CF sufferers by the end of 2019 (2000 by 2020) as well as, and in due course, to sufferers of non CF Bronchiectasis and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, thereby improving the lives of many, many people and their family members in the process.
In addition, PlayPhysio collects and provides data to inform research, improve treatments and accelerate drug development. Will plans to grow his team of four contract programmers to six full-time staff by the end of 2019.
Will has won a two year A Million Realities fellowship from the Packard Foundation. ‘A Million Realities’ aims to find tomorrow’s social impact leaders and offer them the investment and support needed to help them become the change makers of the future. This is well-deserved recognition for Will's pioneering work and is sure to further enable his social enterprise's ongoing impact. We're proud to be part of his origin story.