JoAnn Nilson first became concerned about young men with mild hemophilia when a patient arrived in her care unable to bend his knee.

JoAnn Nilson is one of the researchers who developed HIRT?

JoAnn Nilson is one of the researchers who developed HIRT?

“He had been injured at work a week earlier,” explains Nilson, a physiotherapist (PT)at Royal University Hospital, working with the Saskatchewan Bleeding Disorders Program. “He had brushed off the injury and tried to carry on but it had gotten so bad that his knee was immobilized. The result was he couldn’t work for a year.” Now, there’s an app for that. And Nilson helped develop it with her colleague Kathy Mulder, a PT at Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba and her research team, Dr. Kristy Wittmeier of the University of Manitoba and Dr. Candice Schachter from the University of Saskatchewan.

Nilson identified a gap in care among young men in her research on mild hemophilia, a bleeding disorder. “Young men with mild hemophilia often delay treatment because they can’t tell the difference between a minor injury and an injury which could result in a major bleed,” she explains. “However, with mild hemophilia neglected injuries can become severe. The smart phone app will help identify and monitor the injury to manage it appropriately early on.”

Screen shots of the app.

Screen shots of the app.

The app is called “HIRT?” – hemophilia injury recognition tool. It was developed in conjunction with young men with hemophilia, hemophilia health-care professionals and the Computer Science department at the University of Saskatchewan. “Richard Lomotey, a PhD candidate, and his advisor, Dr. Ralph Deters, helped us partner with MITACS, a company supporting national innovation by coordinating collaborative industry-university research projects. It’s designed to allow a “wait and see” approach as many of these young men can get away with minor muscle or joint injuries which do not require medical attention,” adds Nilson. The app describes symptoms of bleeding and encourages first aid management. If the situation worsens, the app directs the individual to look at pain, swelling, decreased mobility and other symptoms. It takes the person to a first aid section and then it sets alarms on the smart phone to direct the person to re-check for worsening conditions in the first hour, the next day and in two days. If the situation gets bad enough, the app gives them contact information for the hemophilia treatment centre.

The app will be available for download in May through the Canadian Hemophilia Society website and in the Apple Store. It will also be translated to French. Nilson and Mulder have already been recognized with an award by the Bayer Hemophilia Awards Program (BHAP) which involves a trip to the World Federation of Hemophilia Conference in Melbourne, Australia this spring. They will present their project at the conference. BHAP also gave them a research award which funded their research project.

The app can be used on a smart phone.

The app can be used on a smart phone.

Hemophilia is a genetic disorder affecting males. Young men with mild hemophilia, aged 18 to 35, who are either newly independent or tend not to deal with illness and injury, are most likely to suffer the long-term effects of not attending to injuries. The recovery time from those injuries can be significant and can have detrimental effects on their lives.

Nilson has received support for her research through the Saskatchewan Bleeding Disorder Program, which is part of Chronic Disease Management in Saskatoon Health Region. Nilson plans to evaluate the effectiveness of this app as a Master’s project at the University of Saskatchewan, under her advisor, Dr. Sarah Oosman.