IBM engineers have come up with an app designed to improve the everyday life of a paralysed British two-year-old by the name of Emerson, whose medical condition requires constant tracking. The mobile health app created for him is just one of many in a fast-growing market.
Mobile health apps have the power not just to make the everyday lives of their users easier, but to transform them completely. British couple Anna-Marina Dearsley and Lee Grant are a case in point. Their two-year-old son Emerson became paralysed from the chest down in August, following surgery on a cyst on his spine. The youngster then suffered a a seizure one night, prompting his parents to wake every three hours to check his temperature and change his sleeping position. It is then that an app was developed to help them care for him.
“Emerson has complex needs but they’re needs that shouldn’t stop him from being a normal two-year-old or a normal child,” said Anna-Marina in an interview with CNBC. “So with an app it would allow him to continue to follow his peers.”
In response to Emerson’s plight, IBM hosted a hackathon in September at one of its UK offices, inviting teams of software engineers to compete against each other and design the best app for the family.
The winning team came up with a iPad-based dashboard that is mounted on Emerson’s wheelchair and displays easily accessible data such as his heart rate, breathing rate and body temperature.
In the event of any abnormal readings, the app sends an alert to his parents, giving them peace of mind. “Every night I put him to bed…I’m just praying that he’s going to wake up the same child that we know,” added Anna-Marina.
A booming market
Emerson’s health app is just one of many in a fast-growing industry. According to a 2015 Monitor Deloitte survey, the UK mobile health app market will be worth nearly €280m ($335m) in 2018.
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