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Virtual Reality Company Celebrates Year of Accomplishments - Including Partnership with Northamptonshire Schools

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The first social enterprise to provide virtual reality (VR) therapy for children with additional needs and adults with disabilities is celebrating a year of accomplishments.

Based in Spencer Parade Northampton, VR Therapies aims to bring this form of therapy to those who would benefit most, but are least likely to access it.

Nurse and Founder Rebecca Gill said:

VR Therapies launched its service in January this year after the idea was developed in 2018. It is intended to bring this form of therapy to those who would benefit most, but have the least access.

“This therapy combats anxiety, stress and depression by giving individuals coping skills that they can bring into the real world.

“What they don’t usually think about is mindfulness.”

One of the company’s proudest achievements is getting an agoraphobic teenage boy who is afraid to leave home to go outside again and visit the forest he misses most.

His phobias got so bad that he didn’t want to leave his bedroom, let alone his house.

Founder Rebecca Gill says it’s truly amazing to be able to see the benefits firsthand and make a big difference to your health in an immediate and impactful way.

VR Therapies worked with the Northampton Hospital Outreach Team to train one of their therapists to use a VR headset.

The first time a VR session allowed teens to interact with the hospital team, it was a big step.

Rebecca says:

“It was quickly apparent that he loved nature and missed being out in the woods, so I encouraged him to discuss what he enjoyed and what he missed.”

A few weeks after the session, he visited the forest with his parents.

VR therapy has also helped me get back into the boxing ring despite being in my 80s and finding new happiness since my wife died 6 months ago.

Not only did it help an autistic teenager overcome his food phobia, but it also allowed him to go to a cafe with his friends for the first time.

The company is also working with the NHS to develop new ways to support people suffering from chronic pain.

Schools are also benefiting, with VR Therapies working with Dventry Hill School as part of the school’s strategy to use technology in therapeutic interventions and deliver curricula.

All students have special educational needs, and many benefit from this technology to access curricula because of anxiety, childhood experiences, and cognitive and sensory processing issues.

The school began its journey into virtual reality about four years ago and was “very excited” to partner with VR Therapies, said principal Gareth Ivett.

Rebecca says:

“They have demonstrated the power of virtual reality, from developing new coping skills by controlling games with their breath, to exploring new careers and interests.”

To continue the partnership, Daventry Hill School is building a fully equipped VR studio on site.