- By Elisha Bury
- May 13, 2008
Plano, Texas paramedic John Burch, who helped design a pediatric nebulizer and oxygen device, knows firsthand that administering respiratory treatments to children requires an imaginative strategy.
“Paramedic books tell you to draw a face in the bottom of a cup and put oxygen tubing in there,” Burch says. “While (children) are looking at the cup, they’ll get the treatment. We don’t carry cups. It’s a great idea or could be a good idea, but you don’t carry all of the supplies to do it.”
After responding to a call for an 18-month-old with a toy lodged in his throat and trying to administer oxygen, Burch decided there had to be a better way.
“His heart rate was around 130, which is normal for an upset kid, and his oxygen
saturation was high 80s, which should be near 100 percent on most healthy adults or kids,” Burch says.
So, Burch decided to administer oxygen by holding a small mask near the boy’s face. Unfortunately, the boy panicked when he saw the mask and started crying harder. His heart rate shot up to 160 in the span of five to eight seconds.
“After that call, I began to think if this kid had been in some type of a wreck or a fall where he was bleeding internally and still needed the oxygen because maybe he had bled out so much his stats were low, then we go to give him this treatment and it causes his heart rate to speed up 30 beats a minute — well, now we’ve just killed him faster by trying to help him,” Burch says. “At that point, I made up my mind that I was going to develop a product that would treat kids in a less intrusive, friendly fashion.”
The Bear delivers exactly what Burch envisioned. The toy-like, child friendly device comes packed with calming features. A subtle bubblegum smell counteracts the medicinal odor of most masks. A built-in squeak helps children focus on the Bear during treatments. The material is soft like a stuffed animal, and bright colors — blue or yellow — hold the child’s attention.
“I believe that a calm kid who will sit there and focus on the bear and just breath at a normal rate will absorb more medicine than a kid who’s breathing at 40 times a minute,” Burch says.
While the Bear started out as a device for paramedics and hospital emergency rooms, parents also find it useful in the home. “In home care, one of the biggest things is the kid can play with it like a toy,” Burch says. “You take the nebulizer connector out of the back and it’s a toy they can carry around with them. When it’s time for treatments, mom or dad just has to hook the nebulizer cup back into the Bear with the medication in it.”
A connection on the back of the Bear houses the nebulizer and a port for oxygen tubing. As a result, the device is equipped to deliver oxygen as well as breathing treatments for asthma, croup or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The Bear attaches to any compressor the patient may have.
Surprisingly, the device has made waves among the geriatric population, especially for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients who become quite child-like, Burch says. In that demographic, it can be difficult to administer aerosol treatments for COPD or emphysema. The Bear, again, helps calm these patients to maximize treatment.
PO Box 703655
Dallas, TX 75370-3655
This article originally appeared in the May 2008 issue of HME Business.
Elisha Bury is the editor of Respiratory Management.