£400,000 funding for revolutionary digital health project using avatars to treat breathing problems

Categories: School of Health and Society

Funding has been awarded for a new digital health project which will use high-tech, personalised avatars to help treat patients with dysfunctional breathing.

Digital Health

Around 10% of people in the UK are estimated to have some form of dysfunctional breathing, which can result in breathlessness, hyperventilation and dizziness. Learning to breathe correctly can also be a key part of managing other health conditions, such as asthma, back pain and anxiety.

Currently, people struggling with dysfunctional breathing are treated with simple breathing exercises. However, this new system proposed by researchers will provide additional high-tech visual and audio feedback to guide patients through a process in which they gradually learn the correct muscular control of their breathing.

This personalised system will create an individual avatar of the patient, showing the actions of the muscles in real time as they breathe in and out. The system will also be integrated into a behaviour change intervention, providing patients with support from a physiotherapist to help them change their breathing behaviours.

The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and will be led by the University of Salford, in collaboration with the University of Plymouth, University of Stirling and the Glasgow School of Art.

Dr Steve Preece, Research Centre Director at the University of Salford, said: “This new system could revolutionise the way in which we manage breathing disorders. It will give people a window into their body, allowing them to see in real-time how their breathing muscles work. In the future we hope to expand this approach so it could be used to treat other health conditions which are related to altered muscle functioning.”

Find out more about the projects supported by the EPSRC

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