YOUR HEALTH: Getting used to needles could make your life better

ORLANDO, Florida – Diabetes, Crohn's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis are just three of the many conditions that require some people to self-inject.

For many, training is no more than one session with a nurse, teaching technique on a piece of fruit, or a pillow.

New medical training devices can help patients gain confidence as they care for themselves or loved ones.

Little Aniyah Jackson is right at home playing doctor, she sees them a lot.   Aniyah has Turner's Syndrome: a genetic condition that stunts growth.

"Having a small child is not a bad thing, but it can affect them later with osteoporosis, affect the growth of their organs," explained Aniyah's mother, Anne Marie.

BACKGROUND:   Turner Syndrome (TS) is a chromosomal condition that affects development in females.   The most common feature of Turner Syndrome is short stature, which becomes evident by about age 5.   An early loss of ovarian function is also very common.   Human growth hormone is a standard part of treatment for Turner Syndrome.

Aniyah's doctor prescribed an injected growth hormone. once a day, until she's 14.

"Over the course of that time, it's going to be over four thousand times I have to put a needle in her," said Anne Marie.  "It was daunting and scary.   I cried.   A lot."

Now, newly designed training devices like injection pens take patients through the process.   They mimic the feel and force of injections without a real needle and without breaking the skin.

"There's an initial deformation when the skin is relaxing," explained Joe Reynolds, Research Manager for Noble International, Inc.

It's that agitation on the skin that catches patients off guard.

"Patients want to remove it before the injection is finished," he said.

Meaning patients may not be getting all of the medication.

Researchers say after two weeks of home training, patients gain muscle memory.   The process and the sensation become second nature.

After more than a year of injections, Anne and Aniyah have a routine, but Anne says a training device at the very start would have been a huge help.

"We don't have a medical background and we should always feel confident."

NEW RESEARCH:   A study conducted by Noble found that multisensory training devices may be the key to achieving an increased level of understanding and quite possibly maximized and shortened learning curves. The study uncovered the impact of device trainers on patient experience by comparing the number of errors patients made while practicing injection treatments with four different combinations of training tools. The device used in the study was a pen that walked users step-by-step through the training process with audio instructions, detection and notification of an error and how to correct it, and prevention of moving forward in the training until the error is corrected. This pen enables healthcare providers to not only empower patients to use devices correctly, but also to ensure that their treatment outcomes are maximized.

The company behind this, Noble International, works with several major pharmaceutical companies to develop the training devices along with the drugs that need to be injected.

Patients can also ask their doctors to request these devices.

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.

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