App launched to help irritable bowel syndrome

An app developed by Scottish graduates will help IBS sufferers cope with their symptoms. Picture: Getty
An app developed by Scottish graduates will help IBS sufferers cope with their symptoms. Picture: Getty
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GRADUATES have helped develop a digital programme to allow sufferers of a debilitating condition use their minds to cope with its symptoms.

The team from Edinburgh Napier University has worked with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) sufferer Valerie Walker to develop the mobile phone app.

The app uses a technique called neuro linguistic programming (NLP) to allow patients to feel more in control of their condition.

IBS is a range of bowel-related symptoms, such as pain and bloating, with no obvious cause but which can stop sufferers living life to the full.

After years suffering IBS and trying a range of treatments, Ms Walker discovered NLP and decided to train in the technique.

“NLP is about recognising that we often have a lot of negative thought patterns and beliefs,” Ms Walker, below, said. “It is about helping uncover these and changing any negative beliefs into more positive ones.”

Despite some of what she experienced with the condition being driven by her thinking, Ms Walker stressed IBS was not a mental health disorder.

She said: “As soon as you think you’re going to get an upset stomach, you often will get an upset stomach. Or if you get in a panic about whether there’s a toilet nearby then you’re definitely going to need the toilet.”

After training in NLP Ms Walker set up a support group in Edinburgh before obtaining funding from the Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher Scheme and teaming up with the Napier graduates who had set up their own company, GearedApp, to develop applications for mobile devices.

Together they developed the NLP Therapy App for IBS sufferers, providing an introduction to NLP and then taking them through techniques to reduce symptoms.

The 99p app includes techniques such as using a favourite piece of music to help sufferers take control of their condition.

Another section of the app uses images showing an inflamed stomach gradually changing colour to help calm down feelings of pain.

Lara Findlay, director at GearedApp, said: “When we were approached by Valerie we thought the app sounded quite interesting as we’d never developed a health app before.

“But this would be working alongside someone who knew what they were talking about and it allowed us to do something a bit different.”