RT Student collaborates on development of “The Lotus Pond”

by John Murphy, MS, RRT and Robert Branch, RT Student, Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana

Lotus Pond Screen Image

The screenshot (right) is a snip from the animation video application developed by Robert Branch (student) and others, located on You Tube as a Trailer called “The Lotus Pond – Calm Experience trailer” and is accompanied with audio featuring calming water sounds designed to promote relaxed deep breathing. The Virtual reality experience is produced by Liminal-VR and authors involved with Robert. Note: this product has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

“The Lotus Pond” – not just a helpful breathing application, but a calming experience.

When the Board of Directors last met, we hosted some students one of which was Robert Branch from Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. I asked Robert about engagement with our society newsletter, “The Pulmonary Press” and invited contribution. I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the arduous activity and collaboration between Robert and other authors with a virtual reality company to produce a deep breathing application to help calm users or viewers of this work. The app is called “The Lotus Pond – A Calm Experience trailer” and was an idea of Robert’s to help people breathe deeply.

Robert spoke to his development partners in Australia and in San Diego, and both were delighted for this opportunity to share information with ISRC members and readers. The team is a neuroscientist group focused on how to design virtual reality experiences that can directly induce emotional and cognitive states in people. Innovative gamification is being used to encourage behavioral economics, positively influence health decision making, and self-efficacy for education. The experience is designed to help a person relax through breathing; when the app went live, people who were using the app begin to comment that it was helping them deal with anxiety. As an RT student at Ivy Tech and someone who has asthma, Robert conceptualized the immediate opportunity of value for patients with respiratory problems. This seems to apply in any medical or psycho-therapeutic application where deep breathing and stress reduction is desired. One of Robert’s colleague – a neuroscientist – is working to write a short post about this from a neuroscience perspective.

Robert states that “The Lotus Pond” garden, orderly yet free-flowing, promotes a sense of calm and tranquility. We are asked to relax under a cherry blossom tree as a large lotus flower, floating over the water ahead, then animation occurs in response to a soothing “whooshing” sound – gently guiding the breath as it expands (inhale) and contracts (exhale). The Lotus Pond garden promotes a sense of calm and tranquility. This also is gently guiding one to hyperpnea (deep breathing) techniques as the lotus expands while we inhale and it contracts as we exhale. The most common forms of deep breathing / stress reduction and respiratory muscle training (RMT) generally include both inspiratory muscle training (IMT) and expiratory muscle training (EMT). Overall, the inclusion of specific RMT focused on rehabilitation of symptomatic COPD is recommended in providing benefits to respiratory muscle function and a reduction in dyspnea.

Robert hopes that a hospital trial could improve use so patients could watch a virtual reality (VR) experience for 2-3 minutes either by use of VR googles or as a stand-alone experience and part of their ongoing treatment modality. Currently, the platform is only available for “Oculus Go” and “Gear VR” according to colleagues from Liminal VR, a company in Australia. The ISRC and RT leadership applaud Robert’s work and encourage ongoing development.

Lotus Pond Screen Image

A screenshot from the app (left) and a link to
Liminal VR, the company I am working with in Australia.