As part of our November blog theme on wireless and the U.S. military, we are highlighting some of the benefits that wireless devices and services offer America’s troops. Military personnel in war zones are exposed to great physical and psychological risks. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has said more than 400,000 veterans were treated in 2010 for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychological injury that can cause debilitating panic attacks, flashbacks and night sweats related to terrifying battlefield memories.
According to a recent Army Times article, soldiers are using mobile apps to help them with post-traumatic stress and brain injuries. Instead of diagnosing an illness or replacing counseling, the apps offer information about PTSD and techniques for managing symptoms. Several apps include:
- PTSD Coach provides users with education about PTSD, information about professional care, a self-assessment for PTSD, opportunities to find support and tools that can help users manage the stresses of daily life with PTSD. Tools range from relaxation skills and positive self-talk to anger management and other common self-help strategies. Users can customize tools based on their preferences and integrate their own contacts, photos and music. This app can be used by those in treatment as well as their loved ones to help them better manage PTSD.
- T2 Mood Tracker allows users to monitor their moods on six pre-loaded scales (anxiety, stress, depression, brain injury, post-traumatic stress, general well-being) or create custom scales . Users rate their moods by swiping a small bar to the left or to the right. The ratings are displayed on graphs to help users track their moods over time. Notes can be recorded to document daily events, medication changes and treatments that may be associated with mood changes, providing accurate information to help health care providers make treatment decisions.
- Breathe2Relax is a portable stress management tool which provides detailed information on the effects of stress on the body with instructions and exercises to help users practice the stress management skill called diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing exercises have been documented to decrease the body’s "fight-or-flight" (stress) response and help with mood stabilization, anger control and anxiety management. Breathe2Relax can be used as a stand-alone stress reduction tool or can be used in tandem with clinical care directed by a healthcare worker.
Many of the apps available for soldiers were developed by the Pentagon and the VA. With 2.3 million men and women having served in Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade, the U.S. military is committed to understanding, preventing and treating injuries like PTSD. Mobile apps provide an anonymous and widely available tool that can make a real impact with today’s troops.