Treatment Programs

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Inspired Health: Inspiring Kids with Asthma for Lifelong Health

Inspired Health is a unique program based in the MassGeneral Hospital for Children’s Division of Pediatric Pulmonology that offers expert evaluation and management of both asthma and weight by a multidisciplinary team whose primary goal is to help families identify and implement simple and practical strategies for improving health.

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Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, treats a patient in the Weight Center

Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, treats a patient in the Weight Center

The Inspired Health program is designed to address the fact that asthma and obesity influence each other in complex ways, making it difficult to control asthma in the setting of obesity and equally challenging to manage weight in the presence of poorly controlled asthma. A number of factors complicate the care of patients with both conditions, including the following: 

  • Patients who are overweight are more likely to have asthma for reasons that remain under investigation, but likely include increased inflammation and poor lung expansion.
  • Asthma tends to be more severe and more difficult to control in patients who are also overweight. 
  • Patients with asthma are at greater risk for becoming overweight due to exercise related symptoms and medication side effects. 
  • Exercise intolerance among patients with asthma may be caused by a number of factors, including poor asthma control, deconditioning, excess weight, and other health problems, each of which must be diagnosed and treated in order to improve symptoms.  Because these conditions may present with similar symptoms, this task can be challenging and may benefit from a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach.
  • Children and adolescents with asthma and obesity frequently experience poor self-esteem and feelings of hopelessness which can complicate treatment even further. 

It follows that a specialized approach that treats both asthma and overweight in concert is more likely to be successful than one in which each condition is managed in isolation.   The Inspired Health program meets this ambitious challenge by offering expert evaluation and management of both asthma and weight problems by a multidisciplinary team whose primary goal is to help families identify and implement simple and practical strategies for improving their health.  Even those patients who already see a specialist for their asthma or their weight may still benefit from participating in this program due to its unique focus on the complex interaction between the two conditions.

The Inspired Health team believes strongly that the stage for lifelong health is set during childhood and adolescence, and the program is designed to take unique advantage of this developmental “window of opportunity” to help children,  adolescents and their parents obtain the knowledge, tools and confidence necessary to achieve their full health potential.

Any child or teen with asthma and weight problems can benefit from the Inspired Health program. This includes patients who already see a specialist for their asthma or their weight because our program focuses specifically on the complex interactions between the two conditions.

The Inspired Health team

In order to best serve the diverse needs of our patients, the Inspired Health program includes highly-trained experts who collaborate to assess the needs of each individual patient and their family, and to build a personalized plan of care that meets those needs effectively.  This specialized team uses a comprehensive and compassionate approach, working closely with patients, their families, and their communities in their journey to better health.

In addition to its core team of clinicians, the program includes a dietitian and social worker who provide frequent, individualized and practical support to families in their efforts to practice healthy choices and behaviors.  Inspired Health also collaborates closely with specialists in the fields of sleep medicine, psychiatry, and sports psychology, as well as the Mass General Hospital Weight Center for Children, in order to address the specific needs of individual patients on an as-needed basis.   Additionally, the program’s downtown location and affiliation with Massachusetts General Hospital offers access to a multitude of additional resources to which patients can be referred as needed.

What Can Patients Expect When They Come?

Each patient referred to Inspired Health undergoes an initial evaluation to assess his or her current state of health, asthma control, weight status and level of conditioning, as well as other factors that might impact his or her care.  During the first visit, the staff works closely with each patient and family to develop an individualized plan of action, which may include further studies, treatments, psychological and emotional support, nutritional counseling and/or fitness training as needed.

Close follow-up is provided to monitor each patient’s progress and provide positive reinforcement for success.   The program focuses on the identification of specific, achievable goals that are implemented in a step-wise fashion over time.  Throughout this process, our physicians communicate directly with patients’ existing health care providers, including primary physicians and specialists.

The Inspired Health program serves patients with a number of conditions related to asthma and obesity, including those listed here.

Asthma

Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease in which the airways become sensitive to allergens (any substance that triggers an allergic reaction).

Asthma and Children

Approximately 6.5 million children have been diagnosed with asthma according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Asthma is one of the most common, serious, chronic diseases among children, accounting for 14 million absences from school each year.

Obesity

Obesity increases the risk for many diseases, especially heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

Pediatric Pulmonary Medicine

MGH Professional Office Building
275 Cambridge Street, Suite 530
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-8707
Fax: 617-724-2803

Public Transportation Access: yes
Disabled Access: yes

To schedule an appointment with a MassGeneral for Children pediatric specialist, please call 888-644-3248 or complete our online appointment form to request an appointment.

Physicians may call 888-644-3211 or use the online referral form and the Access & New Appointment Center will call your patient within 1 business day.

Next Steps:

  • 617-726-8707
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Team approach

At MassGeneral Hospital for Children, members of the patient’s care team work together to provide coordinated, multidisciplinary treatment.

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