The world’s first app to help young men with mild hemophilia manage their condition was launched in Saskatoon on December 4.

The Hemophilia Injury Recognition Tool (HIRT?) will provide assistance to these young men with mild hemophilia in identifying injuries that need medical attention. It will also facilitate contact to a Hemophilia Treatment Centre.

Richard Lomotey holds an iPad with an open HIRT? app

Richard Lomotey of the University of Saskatchewan Department of Computer Science demonstrates the HIRT? app, which he helped to develop.

Hemophilia is a genetic disorder affecting males in which blood does not clot properly.  It affects about one in 5,000 men, and about half of those are mild cases. People with milder forms of the disease do not experience frequent bleeding problems, and may not recognize symptoms of a more severe injury.

After helping young men with mild hemophilia recover from thigh injuries which kept them off work for close to a year, physiotherapists with the Saskatchewan and Manitoba Bleeding Disorders Programs, JoAnn Nilson and Kathy Mulder, wanted to find a way to help similar clients easily access important information about their condition.

“Young men with mild hemophilia were showing up with significant bleeds, and we weren’t sure why they were waiting so long to seek help,” said Nilson at the app launch in Saskatoon.

They surveyed 26 young men with mild hemophilia across the country to find out what the problem was.

“There is a gap for these young men in getting the information they need to help them identify whether they are dealing with a minor injury or one that could result in a major bleed, and how to proceed,” Nilson explained.

Nilson and her counterparts designed a self-care pathway on paper, giving the signs and symptoms of bleeds and directing them as to what to do in each case. They ran it past this group of young men, who approved the material, but not the method of delivery.

“These young men did not want another booklet.  They wanted an app so they would have the tools they needed at their fingertips,” Nilson said. “They felt it would be convenient and always available, even at the side of the soccer field.”

So a multidisciplinary team from the Saskatoon Health Region, Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg and University of Saskatchewan Computer Science department developed the HIRT? app, with funding assistance from MITACS, a company in Vancouver that promotes university and industry collaboration and an awards grant from Bayer Hemophilia Award Program (BHAP). The app describes symptoms of bleeding, explains first aid management, and provides an alarm to remind the person to reassess their symptoms until the risk of re-bleeding is over.  HIRT? also instructs the user when to seek medical care.

The app is available in French and English.  It can be downloaded for free from the Google and Apple stores and information is available through http://www.hemopilia.ca/.​

“The term ‘mild’ hemophilia can be misleading. The long term repercussions that can result from a poorly managed bleed can be very severe and disabling,” says Mulder. “Working with this particular group of patients can be very challenging. I am excited to see the app available for them to use.”

The BHAP award allowed for this project to be presented at a global hemophilia conference in Melborne Australia in May. There was interest from other countries to use this app for their populations. HIRT? will be evaluated over the next year as a master’s project through the School of Physical Therapy, with advisor Dr. Sarah Oosman, this venture was made possible through the Canadian Hemophilia Society-Baxter research fellowship funds.