Post-traumatic stress disorder can be a debilitating condition, but a new smartwatch app can help patients cope with one part of the condition.
One unexpected consequence of the COVID pandemic is the rapidly increasing demand for mental and emotional health services. Frontline workers and first responders are already suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD – due to the unrelenting demands created by the virus. But individuals also have PTSD as a result of the extra stress created by lockdowns, job loss, and inability to see family and loved ones. Many PTSD patients struggle with nightmares, which disrupt sleep and create a downward spiral of mental and physical health. A company called Nightware has developed an app for Apple smart watches that can detect when the wearer is experiencing a nightmare. It tracks motion and heartrate, and if it senses disturbed sleep, it causes the watch to vibrate gently that calms the wearer and helps them to return to restful sleep without even waking them up. The FDA granted the product Breakthrough status, and has issued permission for the app to be marketed for this purpose.