PTSD affects many people, and it occurs after exposure to a traumatic event. We’ve written a number of blog posts about this topic, which you can read HERE. In today’s Good News Monday post, we’re sharing a story of how a son designed a smartwatch to combat PTSD for his dad.
Tyler Skluzacek saw his combat vet father, Patrick, struggling with PTSD nightmares and decided to do something about it. In 2015, Tyler was a final year student at Macalester College in Minnesota, and learned of an upcoming collaborative computer programming “hackathon” event in Washington, D.C. focused on developing apps to help people like his dad, and he was determined to participate. Tyler at his team came up with a prototype for an ‘anti-night-terror’ smartwatch app which uses technology patterned on the intuitive countermanding measures that PTSD service animals provide. The technology detects the onset of nocturnal disturbances by measuring the wearer’s heart rate and movement. Before the nightmare can start, the app delivers a subtle disruption, that’s equivalent to a gentle nudge or a lick from a dog, in order to reset the wearer’s sleep pattern.
Tyler said that calibrating the correct vibration for the watch was difficult as it had to deliver “just enough stimulus to pull them out of the deep REM cycle and allow the sleep to continue unaffected”. Patrick served as a volunteer Guinea pig for Tyler’s invention, and it was created until the algorithm was perfect. Both Tyler and Patrick were taken aback by the immediate difference it made in Patrick’s life.
“It was night and day when I put that watch on and it started working,” Patrick said. The vibrations worked like “little miracles.”
Tyler is now a graduate student in computer science at the University of Chicago and realised that he could help other PTSD suffers by putting the app into widespread distribution. With this goal in mind, he sold the rights to an investor. The Apple Watch compatible technology called Nightware will be available by prescription in the near future!