JDRF, the type 1 diabetes charityStoriesHow the artificial pancreas app is changing lives

How the artificial pancreas app is changing lives

JDRF-funded researcher Professor Roman Hovorka has launched the world’s first licensed, downloadable artificial pancreas app for people with type 1 diabetes.

We spoke to three people about their experiences of using the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas app.

James’s story

James Baird, who took part in trials of the artificial pancreas app
James Baird, a teenager from Nottingham, told JDRF about his experiences of using the artificial pancreas.

Why did you decide to take part in the research trial of the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas app?

“When I was diagnosed I knew I would be treating my diabetes for the rest of my life. So I thought it would be great to be a part of the development of the latest technology, which would in turn help me manage my diabetes in the future.”

What emotions do you associate with using it?

“Reassurance, peace of mind, trust, reliability, happiness.”

How has using it affected your studies?

“It helped me greatly as I have fewer times when I have extreme blood sugars so I can function normally at school.” 

And your personal relationships?

“It allows me to lead as normal a life as possible, I don’t have to worry about fingerpricks or monitoring my blood sugar as closely as when I was on injections.”

How has using it affected your daily/nightly routine?

“Nighttime can be a real issue for people with type 1. Blood sugars can go really low overnight but I know the artificial pancreas regulates my blood sugars and stops me from going low. This means I get a good night’s sleep and so do my parents!”

And your lifestyle?

“It means that my parents are more relaxed for me to do the things any other 15-year-old would be, like school residential visits, weeks away on church camps, sleepovers at friends, going in to Nottingham with friends, going to the cinema, being independent.

“My diabetes is not an issue, because it is so much easier to manage.”

And how has using this artificial pancreas improved your clinical diabetes outcomes?

“My HbA1c has come right down and is now 49, which is the best it has been since diagnosis. The paediatric diabetes team at Nottingham Queen’s Medical Centre are really pleased with my progress.”

Paula’s story

Paula Syred, who took part in trials of the artificial pancreas app
Paula Syred told JDRF about her experiences of using the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas.

Why did you decide to take part in a research trial of this artificial pancreas app? 

“Having used a self-funded CGM for a while, my initial thoughts were that it was a chance to try a different CGM and insulin pump.”

What emotions do you associate with using this tech? 

“It makes dosing for meals in public so easy. People think you are checking messages on your phone. After the first 24 hours I was happy that the pump had taken the worry about glucose levels away from me, leaving me able to think less about diabetes and to enjoy life.”

How has it affected your work? 

“I was able to increase my working hours as I achieved better control and had a lot more energy.”

How has using CamAPS FX affected your personal relationships? 

“My family noticed I was less snappy whilst using the system as my blood glucose remained in range more of the time. Until using the CamAPS FX I hadn’t realised how much diabetes was controlling my life.”

How has using it affected your daily/nightly routine? 

“Whilst using the CamAPS FX I was able to get a proper night’s sleep without worrying that my blood glucose would drop or skyrocket.

“I hadn’t realised before using the app just how much insulin requirements vary from night to night.”

How has using it affected your lifestyle? 

“I was able to undertake more physical activity including finishing the Diabetes UK 1 Million Steps challenge. Whilst flying long haul it was great that the CamAPS FX managed my diabetes throughout the journey and updated time zones as we crossed them.”

How has using it improved your clinical diabetes outcomes? 

“The CamAPS FX helped me gain better control. My HbA1C was better than it had been for over 20 years and I was achieving a much greater time in target blood glucose range.”

What do you feel the main advantages and disadvantages to using this artificial pancreas are?

“For me the advantages of the system are greater control of my diabetes, discreet monitoring from a mobile phone rather than a control device, having more energy from the better control improved my quality of life greatly and I was more able to enjoy the world around me.”

Fiona’s story

Fiona O'Reilly, who took part in trials of the artificial pancreas app
Fiona O’Reilly told JDRF about her experiences of using the CamAPS FX artificial pancreas.

What emotions do you associate with using this artificial pancreas app?

“Overall, it makes me feel free. It is the closest I have been to living without the burden of type 1 diabetes since I was diagnosed which is a fabulous feeling.

“I feel less fearful of hypoglycaemia, and less ashamed of the fact I find achieving good glycaemic control so tricky. And it makes me feel more positive of my future with diabetes. 

“It also makes me feel lucky to live in a time where this technology is possible and really grateful to be given the chance to try it out. It’s exciting to participate in something that is so important to all people with type 1 diabetes. I am always eager to seize opportunities to try CGM technology as it is so beneficial for my diabetes management.”

How has using it affected your work?

“Trusting that the system is successfully doing its job means I have more capacity to concentrate on other tasks at work. I feel healthier, as my control is so much better, and therefore have more energy.”

What about your personal relationships?

“Again, the less I worry about my diabetes and the more energy I have, the more breadth there has been in my life for relationships with family and friends.

“I am able to have more fun with my young family, I can offer more of myself to my friends and I have more confidence to be sociable and participate in my community.”

How has using it affected your daily/nightly routine? 

“For the first time in 15 years I have hardly had to do any finger-prick blood tests. This means that there is one less device that I have to carry around with me. I don’t have to set an alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to test my BG to make sure I am not hypo.”

How has using it affected your lifestyle?

“I sleep longer and better because I trust the system to protect me from hypos or alert me to hypos while I am asleep. My diet is better too, as I am not trying to prevent hypos with food.

“I feel freer to be more spontaneous with activities because I can see what was happening with my blood sugars at all times. I am more confident when it comes to exercise and enjoy it more too, because I am not worrying as much about my BGs dropping during an exercise session.

“My mental and emotional health is also infinitely better. It feels like a little holiday from type 1 diabetes!”

What do you feel the main advantages and disadvantages to using this artificial pancreas are?

“There are copious advantages. Personal management of type 1 diabetes is so much easier. There is a reduction in hands-on interaction and guess work with the system and therefore it takes up less brain space.

Daily life is simply less stressful and so quality of life is better.

Clinically, it produces amazing results leading to an improvement in physical and mental health, which can only be a positive thing for the long term financial burden of type 1 diabetes on the NHS. It is easy to use, discreet (as a device) and reliable.

“The only disadvantages I can think of are: having to wear the device at all times and trusting the technology – both of which are only a problem to patients who feel strongly about them.

“For me, the benefit of using the system far exceeds any concerns about wearing the device. And even though I was tentative at first, I didn’t have a problem with trusting the technology.”

What about your clinical diabetes outcomes?

“The clinical benchmarks that reflect diabetes control improved dramatically over the four months I have been using the system – for example a huge drop in HbA1c (from 67 to 51) and 70(ish)% time in range.”

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