For many of the service men and women who have served valiantly in war zones, leaving the horrors of the battlefield behind is not as simple as hanging up their uniforms when they get home.
Post-traumatic stress disorder encompasses a wide range of symptoms. When Tyler Skluzacek, son of combat vet Patrick Skluzaceksaw, watched his father’s life fall apart as a result of recurring debilitating nightmares, he knew he had to do something about it.
In 2015, Tyler, then a senior at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, learned of an upcoming collaborative computer programming “hackathon” event in Washington, DC focused on developing apps to help people like his father, he was determined. to participate.
Using technology based on the intuitive measures to counteract PTSD provided by service animals, Tyler and his team created the prototype of the “night terror” smartwatch app. The program detects the appearance of nocturnal disturbances by measuring the user’s heart rate and movement. Before the nightmare takes hold, the app offers a subtle interruption (equivalent to a gentle push or lick from a dog) to restore the user’s sleep pattern.
Calibrating the correct vibration level for the watch proved challenging. It had to deliver “just enough stimulus to get them out of the deep REM cycle and allow sleep to continue unaffected,” Tyler said. NPR.
With his father serving as a volunteer guinea pig, Tyler continued to modify his creation until the algorithm was practically perfect. Once the glitches were resolved and the app worked as intended, both father and son were stunned by the immediate difference it made in Patrick’s life.
“It was day and night when I put on my watch and it started ticking,” Patrick said. The vibrations worked like “little miracles”.
Tyler, now a graduate student in computer science at the University of Chicago, realized the potential of the “little miracles” he had created to help other PTSD patients. In order to widely distribute his life-changing app, he sold the rights to an investor.
According to the VA, the new FDA approved Apple Watch-compatible technology (marketed under the Nightware brand) should be available by prescription, turning nightmares into sweeter dreams and bringing well-deserved rest to military veterans everywhere in the near future.
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