The VA Releases a Mobile App for PTSD Patients
The U.S. Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs released a smartphone application to help people who have post traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. The PE Coach iPhone and Android app was created for patients undergoing Prolonged Exposure (PE) therapy, the main treatment that the VA offers for patients with PTSD.
Patients can use the PE Coach to record conversations with their therapists so that they can work on their recovery in between sessions.
The VA put out another app last year called PTSD Coach, which provides information about PTSD as well as where to find support and professional treatment. This new app, the PE Coach, is tailored specifically for people practicing PE with a therapist. Psychologists at the Defense Department’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology and the VA National Center for PTSD designed the app to compliment the therapy.
PE involves four main parts: education, breathing, real world practice and talking through the trauma. The app has controlled breathing exercises, which help to manage immediate distress.
Real world practice calls for patients to do every day activities that he or she avoids because they’re related to a traumatic event. For example, veterans who have experienced a roadside bombing might avoid driving.
Patients also talk through their memories with therapists. This is supposed to help people get more control over the thoughts and feelings that they associate with the event. They work from their least distressing memories up to their most distressing ones.
In addition to using it for recording sessions, patients can use the app to help them keep track of the assignments their therapist gives them. They can also keep notes on their phones about their thoughts and experiences so that they can bring up them up later during meetings.
The app is new and doesn’t have many reviews yet, but one user already wrote, “This app is essential for returning troops, like myself. I love the app and it has helped tremendously.”
However he added that while progressing, he wants to be able to delete items he’s already worked through, which the app doesn’t do right now.
The VA has long been using telemedicine and mobile technology to care for its patients. One of the goals of mobile tech is to deliver care to people when they need it and where they’re most comfortable receiving it. Apps like the PE Coach make sense for people who have PTSD because they’re dealing with the condition around the clock. The DoD and VA’s smartphone app could be a great pocket tool for these patients.