More than 200 Berks County children and their families learned how to better manage asthma and got some top notch basketball skills training at a one-day Healthy Hoops event on Saturday, Sept. 20. The program uses basketball as the means to help young asthma sufferers and their families learn about appropriate medication use, proper nutrition, and monitored exercise."Our Healthy Hoops program is a proven way to help young people with asthma live healthier, fuller lives," said Sherry Knowlton, Senior Vice President and General Manager for Ameri Health Mercy Health Plan, a key Medicaid managed care plan in Berks County and a sponsor of the program.

"This is our first year for the program in Berks County, but we are pleased to report that young asthma patients who have attended these events in Philadelphia have shown significant improvement after one year."

Studies of Healthy Hoops participants in Philadelphia in 2006 and 2007 show:

ˆ· Asthma-related emergency room visits decreased 6.4 percent

ˆ· Inpatient hospital stays due to asthma-related problems dropped 22.2 percent

ˆ· Healthy Hoops participants used their medications more effectively, showing an 11.7 percent increase in the use of controller medications to reduce severe asthma attacks

ˆ· 68 percent of participants either maintained or improved their lung capacity and strength

The Healthy Hoops event at Reading's Northwest Middle School was sponsored by Ameri Health Mercy Health Plan and the Healthy Hoops Coalition, including Astra Zeneca, the American Lung Association, the Olivet Boys and Girls Club, Reading School District, local community and health organizations, and participating basketball coaches.

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