NHS nurses create device to save lung patients and CF sufferers’ lives | UK | News

EXCLUSIVE

Inspired NHS nurses have created a device that not only helps save lung patients’ lives, but also the environment and even vital taxpayers’ money.

Traditionally patients with long-term lung conditions like cystic fibrosis (CF) or COPD will blow through tubing into a bottle of sterile water – called PEP or Positive Expiratory Pressure – to exercise and clear their airways.

But doing they daily physio is especially hard work for kids and after each session in hospital the one-time use bottle and tube are usually binned – with a high carbon footprint and costing the NHS vital cash.

But when one NHS trust’s CF team realised UK firm Hydrate for Health’s hands-free water bottle could be re-engineered into a fun, reusable, lung physio ‘bubble-blowing’ machine they all sat down and designed the HydroBubble.

Our pictures show three year-old CF sufferer Ivan Wright having fun blowing into the eco-friendly device which can be cleaned in a dishwasher and used again and again – saving NHS around £200-a-year, per patient.

Three year-old Ivan Wright with the CF team who helped create HydroBubble (Image: handout)

Mark Moran MBE, of makers Hydrate for Health, never envisioned his easy-access water bottle – to help the vulnerable stay hydrated at home, hospital or in care homes – could transform into a physio device for lung patients. 

But he praised the ingenious NHS CF nurse trio of Yasmin Hussaini, Jane White, and Naomi Parsons, from the South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT) and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) for dreaming it all up.

Mark, 62, of Bristol, told the Daily Express: “The nurses came to me already with a plan – they were amazing and I had never imagined by hydration bottle could be used in such a way. 

“I was blown away. They showed me that normally they would have to use a bottle of sterile water and oxygen tubing and the patients would blow through that – and when they finished they threw the who thing away.

“So someone his shipping bottles of sterile water around and after one use it all gets chucked. The carbon footprint is terrible – but the HydroBubble can be used, cleaned, used and cleaned again and again.

“The CF unit estimate it would save the NHS and taxpayers £200-a-year per patient. That’s brilliant. Plus there is the environmental saving and the life-saving too as the patients enjoy the fun aspect of the bubble blowing.

“We ‘funked it up’ a bit to make it look fun and attractive for the kids and the reports we are getting back are that they love it. I’m so proud to have been involved with the nurses on the project. I think we’ve designed something incredible.”

CFer Ivan Wright exercises on his HydroBubble

CF sufferer Ivan Wright exercises on his HydroBubble device (Image: handout)

Mark got an MBE for services to innovation after inventing his Hydrant Drinking System – a unique hands-free drinking system to reduce dehydration in hospital patients, care home residents and people in care at home. 

Mark lived with limited movement for months, following surgery on his back in 2005 and noticed how difficult it was to get enough to drink, with the jug and glass by his bed either empty or impossible to reach, lift and hold.

Most hospitals in the UK now use his Hydrant product, which received the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2013. 

He added of the Hydrant device: “It’s saved countless patients from dehydration and saved the NHS millions in the process. It’s great to know how something so relatively simple has changed people’s lives.” 

But when Midlands CF nurses Yasmin Hussaini, Jane White, and Naomi Parsons, saw the Hydrant in August 2023 they realised it could become a bubble PEP device too – with a little bit of tinkering.

How HydroBubble Works

HydroBubble PEP device

HydroBubble PEP device (Image: handout)

By Chris Riches

What is PEP and why do lung patients need to do it? 

Respiratory disease affects one in five people and is the third biggest cause of death in England after cancer and cardiovascular disease.

HydroBubble is a chest physiotherapy device aimed to help shift that phlegm and sputum so sufferers can cough it up and out of their lungs. PEP stands for Positive Expiratory Pressure.

In Bubble PEP positive pressure is created by the resistance of blowing bubbles into water. 

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a cruel, life-limiting genetic condition that causes sticky mucus to clog up the lungs, so patients must to daily physiotherapy and fitness to keep their airways clear and healthy.

Around 11,500 people in the UK have CF and about 100,000 in the world and keeping airways clear of the sticky, hard mucus helps patients reduce the risk of dangerous infections that can devastate long-term lung health.

HydroBubble can also be used for a range of other conditions that do Bubble PEP physio – such as Bronchiectasis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD).

How does HydroBubble Bubble PEP work?

It works by keeping your airways open. It produces vibrations in the lungs to help loosen and move sticky mucus secretions.

This in turn moves secretions up towards the larger airways where it can be cleared by a huff or a cough. This will help to clear secretions from the chest and will reduce risk of infections. 

Cystic fibrosis sufferers will do a range of different physio and exercises each day, such as salt nebulisers that use hypertonic saline, sterile saline solution. 

Salt attracts water into the airways, which thins the mucus, making it easier to cough out. Research has shown that inhaling hypertonic saline twice a day helps people with cystic fibrosis experience fewer lung infections.

Yasmin Hussaini and Jane White told the Daily Express: “Children with CF need to do chest physiotherapy every day, which they can find onerous. 

“We want to help keep their lungs as healthy as possible, and one way we can do this is by using Bubble PEP. 

“The traditional Bubble PEP device consists of a bottle and tubing. It is complex to clean and challenging for our younger patients to use without the aid of an adult. 

“It also creates a huge amount of plastic waste on our wards, as the device needs to be changed weekly. 

“We felt our patients deserved something better! Therefore, we teamed up with Mark Moran, MBE from Hydrate for Health and developed the HydroBubble, which ticked all our boxes.”

Following its launch across Coventry and Warwickshire in April 2024, the device, has received numerous positive comments from users and their families.

The groundbreaking device keeps your airways open by producing vibrations in the lungs to help loosen and move secretions.

This, in turn, moves secretions up towards the larger airways, where a huff or a cough can clear them. 

By removing secretions, it reduces the risk of infections. Healthcare professionals advise patients on how much water to put into a HydroBubble and guide them on the correct techniques and frequency of use. 

The two nurses added: “We have been using HydroBubble with CF toddlers and children – it is great fun, can be conveniently used indoors, outdoors or on the go.” 

It can also be used for a range of other conditions that do Bubble PEP physio – such as Bronchiectasis, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD). 

Maggie Hufton, UHCW Consultant Paediatrician, said: “Airway clearance is a vital part of paediatric Cystic Fibrosis care, and we are so proud to be part of this exciting development. 

“We have been trialling it on the ward to improve airway clearance for children with pneumonia and long-term respiratory conditions to aid quicker recovery and reduce length of stay. 

“The device is colourful and easy to use, and our younger patients love using it.”

Ivan Wright with his Kaftrio wonder drug

Ivan Wright shows off his Kaftrio wonder drug (Image: handout)

While David Ramsden, Chief Executive at Cystic Fibrosis Trust, told the Daily Express: “Physiotherapy is a vital part of the daily treatment regime for people with cystic fibrosis.

“Physio helps people stay fit and healthy and can also help with key areas of CF health such as airway clearance, continence, and sinus management. 

“There are many new and different physiotherapy options available now, and you can find more information and resources on our website cysticfibrosis.org.uk.” 

Mark is giving away 25 HydroBubbles to the first 25 emails from Daily Readers at [email protected]

* Otherwise, to buy a HydroBubble, visit Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0CXN2GQFL 

Ivan’s forever blowing bubbles … on his HydroBubble!

Ivan with his family

Little CF sufferer Ivan Wright, mum Rebecca Bott and dad Iain Wright (Image: handout)

By Chris Riches

EXCLUSIVE 

THREE year-old Ivan Wright used to struggle to do his lung exercises twice a day – until they became fun using the new HydroBubble. 

Ivan, of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was just three weeks old, from the standard heel-prick test that all babies have at birth, that check for genetic diseases. 

But like many young children, Ivan struggled to do the tough daily exercises needed to shift the sticky mucus CF causes out of his lungs, so he can cough it up. 

In January Ivan started on CF wonder drug Kaftrio which has helped his overall health – but not stopped the need for him to his vital physio. 

So to encourage him mum Rebecca Bott, 38, tried the HydroBubble – on the recommendation of her local CF nurses. 

And it’s been a revelation, as the fun device entertains Ivan as he blows huge bubbles or blow around a small toy inside the bottle – while his lungs get a good workout. 

Mum Rebecca, a dog groomer, told the Daily Express: “We had been struggle with Ivan’s physio, even after Kaftrio which has made his lungs better, and his body stronger. 

“Now he can sit and watch telly, or even bounce on his trampoline, all while blowing into the HydroBubble, with us encouraging to give it 10 huge blows. 

“Sometimes with put a toy inside the bottle and he tries to blow it around as much as he can so that’s fun for him too. It’s been a revelation. 

“He uses his saline nebuliser first and that helps break down the hard, sticky mucus in his lungs through a fine, salty mist. 

“Then he will use the HydroBubble to shift that mucus around his lungs enough for him to then cough it out and keep his airways clear. It’s been really good.”

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