Breathe well. Feel better.

Need base innovation

Everything began with one man’s battle against his breathing problems.

Aulis Kärkkäinen, where did it all begin?

Everything began even before I was born. I got it from some of my ancestors, I mean wheezing breathing and shortness of breath which lurked in to my bed especially on dark wintertime morning hours. I was afraid of being choked. This is why my strongest childhood memories relate to the breathing.

In those days, 1950’s, stories about people who were sent to sanatorium because of lung disease were common. No way I was ready to be taken away from my home to any sanatorium. So, I closely kept my poor breathing secret. Perhaps for this reason my wheezing breathing remained undiagnosed all the way to my adulthood. Also, living conditions in those days taught me adapt to inconveniences like small wheezing.

In cross country skiing competitions held in the primary school, my good start suddenly died to feeling of suffocation. Then I just convinced myself that I wasn’t very sporty. Instead I became interested in solving problems related to the different needs that people had.

Shortly after the primary school I slipped into working life. Hard work, sometimes too hard, in fresh air helped me to keep my airways open, even though from time to time my breathing wheezed like a train. Now I know that it was the hard work that kept me going and not to suffocate with slime. You know, I have always been a slime factory responding to whatever irritants.

Later, when hard physical work turned to more mental office work my body stopped defending me against breathing problems which started to accumulate gradually.

In the beginning of 90’s I had to go to the doctor who defined me an asthmatic. In 2000 the worst ever imaginable occurred to me since I lost my son to brain cancer. At the same time, I had to struggle with huge challenges in my company, which again deteriorated my breathing. Naturally, I got medications and then more medications until I became slaved to them. Finally, my body started protesting with cramps, insomnia and arrhythmia. I got severe sleep apnoea diagnosis, even though I wasn’t overweight.

In my early age, I found that sauna eased up my breathing, so I became a very eager sauna man. Later I concluded that steam somehow had beneficial effect on my breathing problems. Once I had to seek help from the local medical centre to my difficult congestion, a nurse gave me a bottle and a tube and encouraged me to blow into the bottle, filled with some 20 cm of water. Suddenly that eased up my wheezing. Then I got the idea of merging these two beneficial methods in a way that they worked complementary. Once resisted exhaling opens up the airways, the steam gets its way deep into them. Now steam inhalation has true meaning when the airways are open to receive moisture. I just had to design a device allowing to use those methods effectively and complementarily.

Soon the first prototype, a very robust one, of the WellO2 training device was in my hands. In this invention, resisted exhaling into the closed water chamber generated steam which was then inhaled into the airways that gradually opened up. The first time I tried my invention I knew that I had found something that truly make me better.

I have been using my own device regularly up to six years now, a few minutes in the mornings and in the evenings. My medication is now in control, and so are my breathing problems. My lungs work better than ever, and what truly adds my wellbeing, is that those cramps, sleep apnoea and arrhythmia have become very rare. Maybe because now I use much less inhalable drugs than before, also my lost singing voice has come back brighter and louder.

Since I’m asthmatic I still respond to different irritants such as flowers, cosmetics, textile, air pollutants, and so on. Before, this usually ended up to extensive slime accumulation, and in many cases, to respiratory infection to which I got many consecutive cures. I can’t avoid having episodes which reduce my air flow 20% – 40%. The difference is, that now I can clear my airways from mucus and keep them open which obviously has cut repetitive infections. Also, my air flow gets back to normal soon after a training session with WellO2.

Sometimes I take my inhalable drugs while I’m training with WellO2. First I take 5 – 6 exhales and inhales with the device to get the airways open, then one spray from the asthma pipe, and finally continue with the device for another 5 – 6 times. After that I take the steroid inhale with a similar procedure. I believe that once the airways have opened and the air flows freely, the drugs can find their way better into the airways. I suppose that this has halved my drug consumption. Unlike before, my airways remain clear and I can breathe well.

In public events my breathing gets really angry with all those different flavours around me igniting my slime factory. As soon as I get myself back home, I clear the airways with the WellO2 training and the situation eases up.

Spirometry, the official lung function test, tells me that my values are 10% better than they were in 90’s, and 1.4 times better than average of healthy men at my age.

This remarkable story continues in hands of Hapella Ltd, a private start up specialized in wellbeing technology. The journey from idea to innovation has been long and it has required firm commitment to problem solving related to design and manufacturability. I’m very happy to see that the product is finally ready to be launched as a unique training device. We all can benefit of it. So, breathe well, feel better.

Aulis Kärkkäinen
Entrepreneur, inventor