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measuring peak flow

How are peak flows taken, and in particular how do I do this as a blind person? I am posting this here in a public post in answer to a question from my friend shazza59 but also because others may be curious about it.

There is a device called a peak flow meter which has a piece that moves when blown into. There are different types of meters, but the idea is similar to a thermometer. My device has markings up the left side in increments of 10. I'm not sure where they start or how far they go. It has two movable pieces on that side which can be used to mark significant places. I have mine set at 250 and 450. So I can estimate the measure by figuring out the distance from one or the other. It is not a completely accurate method, but I am usually within 10 points (or whatever you call this.)

I have had an asthma diagnosis since 1995 and have been doing peak flow measures since 1999. I've gotten to the point that I can guess my approximate peak flow without measuring and just use the meter to confirm. I function on most days between 400 and 450. During my illnesses, I can get down in the 200 to 250 range. Generally my measure goes up after a nebulizer treatment with Xopenex. The reason I've been so concerned lately is that I had been staying at 250-300 even after the treatments.

I don't know of any accessible peak flow meters, primarily because of the way they are made: with the piece that physically moves and the numbers in such tiny increments that they can't be marked tactually. If there was such a thing as an electronic meter that worked like a digital thermometer, it could be made to talk. I wish such a thing existed!


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:15 am (UTC)
Interesting post, thanks for making it!

I did a Google search out of curiosity and couldn't find anything about accessible ones. Argh. Ever since I've gotten the pump I get really irked when there are not accessible medical devices. I'm looking into getting a continuous glucose monitor and those are even less accessible than pumps. I know you use other equipment, are they accessible? I think medical companies need to be pressured into making more accessible equipment when it's for home/daily use! Sorry, I'll stop before I start ranting. *grin*
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
my other med equipment
Nebulizers... There isn't really much to using these. The medication viles are pre-made with the correct amount, so I just empty them into the cup and run the machine. The NE-U22 is challenging because it is so quiet. It hisses very quietly when it is running, and it often hisses differently when it runs out. I can always open the med cup and check to see if there is still liquid inside. I'm learning to time the thing so that I can pretty much gage when it is done. The big desktop nebulizers actually run an air compressor, so there is air coming through and the sound changes as the medication runs out.

The only accessibility issue with my CPAP machine was figuring out how to fill the water container to the correct line. The therapist who brought it to me came up with the idea of measuring the water, and it came out to be two cups. So this really is not an issue. I just pour through a mini funnel into the container--the whole is very small.
Dec. 31st, 2008 03:03 am (UTC)
Re: my other med equipment
Ah, so no digital readouts or other things like that. That's good, at least. That's the main accessibility issue with the stuff I use. Still, I don't think universal design is all that difficult if it's built in from the ground up, including speech.
Dec. 31st, 2008 03:17 am (UTC)
Thank you thank you thank you! I really didn't know any of this, so I am grateful you took the time to explain. I'm really surprised that someone hasn't tried to either modify a peak flow meter or adapt it so that it would talk. With all the talking medical supplies now, it's sad. But I guess with all inaccessible things, one must learn or figure a work around.
Thanks so much for explaining.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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