Helping PTSD patients sleep at night
Tyler Skluzacek’s father is an Iraq war veteran. Like millions of soldiers, Tyler’s father suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), which causes him to experience night terrors. Every night he would wake up as if prodded by a jolt of electricity. He would be sweating and his heart rate would be through the roof. For years he was unable to get a good night’s rest, and his professional and family life suffered.
Tyler, a college student in Minnesota, wanted to develop an app that would help his father and other vets like him. He knew that an increased heart rate was an indicator of an upcoming night terror attack, and he reasoned that a gentle vibration could stimulate his father enough so that he would come out of deep sleep, but not enough to rouse him completely, so his sleep wouldn’t be interrupted.
Tyler asked his father to wear a smartwatch at night to monitor his heart rate and feed the data to an app, which was equipped with a learning algorithm to determine when to send a signal to the smartwatch to vibrate. For the first 10 days, Tyler’s father reported no improvement, while the app was learning about his nightly cardiac rhythm. Then, on the 11th, 12th, and 13th day, he called his son every day to say he had a great night’s sleep – for the first time in years.
Tyler is now working on a consumer product he can take to the market. Veterans who will use myBivy can also submit data to their doctor for analysis, and Tyler hopes more data will help researchers find better treatments for PTSD in the future.
Tyler is also seeking donations to provide myBivy to US veterans for a year. You can help at www.mybivy.org
Image courtesy of Israel Defense Forces
Last updated: 04th of October, 2016