BreatheVR is a virtual reality application for Gear VR and Oculus Go that uses the breath and rewards the user visually to help them reach a relaxed state of deep breathing. The benefits of deep breathing and meditation have long been recognised to aid relaxation. Recent studies using virtual reality also evidence further benefits. BreatheVR combines the power of virtual reality and deep breathing to create a uniquely immersive experience for the user.

Once the headset is on, the user is in a bright, colourful, animated meadow, listening to calming music and birds. The user is asked to inhale deeply through the nose and then to exhale deeply through the mouth, at which point this breath is detected by the mic, which in turn causes the leaves in the virtual reality environment to rise up. This sequence is then repeated encouraging the user to get into a pattern of diaphragmatic breathing.

The Story Behind BreatheVR

On 3rd June 2017 the Innovation Lab, Department Of Finance and the Public Health Agency held a Pain Hackathon at Queens University Belfast. The morning session was attended by chronic pain sufferers and health professionals. People suffering from chronic pain said that they need access to a range of tools to help them de-escalate their pain. Health professionals said that the single biggest benefit their patients reported was being taught to breathe mindfully. It was from this that the idea for BreatheVR was developed. NEON conducted a pilot study with BreatheVR in November 2017 with 10 people suffering from chronic pain, specifically fibromyalgia and spinal fusion surgery. Participants were asked to score their pain before and after using BreatheVR using the visual analogue scale (VAS). The VAS is a psychometric response scale which can be used in questionnaires and ranges from 1-10, with 10 being the most severe form of pain. After using BreatheVR for only three minutes, 8 out of 10 participants reported a de-escalation in pain. The biggest drop was from 7 to 3.5, a 50% drop in pain. BreatheVR is now available on Gear VR store.

Who Is BreatheVR For?

BreatheVR is being developed as a tool to help people suffering from chronic pain. However customer feedback also tells us that it is helpful for people suffering from anxiety and for those who want to take few minutes out of their day to engage in some deep breathing relaxation to promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Taking time and responsibility for positive mental health in today’s high stress society is now more important than ever.

Be Part Of The BreatheVR Journey

We want to hear from you - are you planning a clinical or randomised control trial? Do you suffer from chronic pain? Are you a health professional or are you working on mindfulness - whatever your interest please get in touch with us by completing our contact form.