Little Rock (Aug. 21, 2018) It’s no surprise that in today’s digital age, adolescents are glued to their smartphones. What if they held the power to improve their health in the palms of their hands? That’s the question that Arkansas Children’s Research Institute (ACRI) aims to answer with a new study that is being funded by a $3.1 million award from the National Institutes of Health.

Over the course of five years, researchers will study how smartphone technology can empower adolescents with asthma to use self-management strategies to improve their health.

“Adolescent patients are at higher risk of experiencing serious complications due to asthma,” said Tamara T. Perry, M.D., lead researcher for the project at ACRI, medical director of Arkansas Children’s Telemedicine program and an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Medicine. “Traditionally, it has been challenging to encourage adolescents to recognize the importance of asthma self-management and to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing.”

That combination can be problematic. Asthma is a chronic lung disease that can be serious and even life-threatening. While it cannot be cured, it can be managed. Researchers will examine the effectiveness of a personalized, interactive app in reducing asthma morbidity among patients who have an increased risk for asthma attacks.

The study will look at a number of variables and will compare outcomes of patients using the app to outcomes of patients receiving traditional paper instructions for home asthma care. The proposed app will provide real-time, personalized feedback, asthma education, as well as data logging and tracking capabilities. Patients will receive recommendations about caring for acute symptoms and medication and prescription refill reminders to reinforce healthy habits. Researchers will also examine how sharing data from the app with the participants’ primary care providers may impact outcomes.

“Ultimately, we’re looking for a solution that will give adolescents real-time access to their personalized health information and allow them to take wellness into their own hands,” said Perry. “If successful, we will be able to design additional apps that are applicable to other age groups and patients with other chronic medical conditions. Not only do we have the potential to help asthma patients in Arkansas, but our hope is to impact the lives of children around the world.”

Perry treats patients with allergy and immunologic disorders. Her research at ACRI focuses on finding innovative solutions by using technology to improve health outcomes for children with asthma and other allergic diseases.

The pilot studies for this project were funded by UAMS Translational Research Institute (TRI), ACRI and Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI).

Since it was established in 1989, ACRI has been a leader in cutting-edge research that improves the health and wellbeing of children and their families.

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health care system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 336-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 Trauma Center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally-recognized transport service. It is one of the 25 largest children’s hospitals in the United States and is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in cardiology/heart surgery, neurology/neurosurgery, nephrology and pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest in Springdale includes 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health and school-based health solutions. A private nonprofit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit

About Arkansas Children’s Research Institute

ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACRI and the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.

About UAMS

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; northwest Arkansas regional campus; statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and Translational Research Institute. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,727 students, 822 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses throughout the state, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.