Military Uses Mobile Apps to Help Brain Injured Soldiers and Their Families

Mobile Apps to Help Brain Injured SoldiersSmartphones can do much more than make calls. They can actually help brain injured soldiers recover. Through upgrades and mobile applications, smartphones help soldiers and their families cope with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and the many complications that commonly arise.

Getting Resources in the Hands of Soldiers

Robert Ciulla is a clinical psychology at The National Center for Telehealth and Technology at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. He explained that smart phone applications are useful for getting the best treatment information and resources in the hands of soldiers. “We want our military community to be able to access behavioral health resources quickly and readily,” said Ciulla. “So the availability of smartphones now offers a kind of hip-pocket access to resources. It’s kind of an ideal opportunity and solution to get those kinds of resources into the right hands.”[1]

Mood Tracker

Nicknamed T2, the center authored the popular mental health application Mood Tracker. The award-winning application lets users monitor and journal their feelings. Users can graph mood changes in a visual interface, which provides more accurate information than would be available via traditional means. Not only does this help the user to become more self-aware, it also serves as a useful tool for psychologists to help patients see patterns in moods and behaviors.


More recently, T2 released “Breathe2Relax,” an application for stress management. Like Mood Tracker, the application works well on its own and supplies additional information that can help psychologists treat patients more effectively.

Stress produces a hormonal response in the body called “fight-or-flight.” When the body has no outlet for this reflex, tensions can build. Breathing exercises decrease the stress response and help stabilize moods. Breathe2Relax walks users through deep-breathing exercises using video instruction. These exercises, along with practice sessions and a stress tracker, make the application highly useful to those with TBI or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

More Applications Underway

Mood Tracker and Breathe2Relax are just the tip of the iceberg. T2 plans to create a dozen or so applications that will help soldiers with TBI, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. These apps will also help health care providers access clinical guidelines for these disorders.

In fact, one such application has already been released. The Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Pocket Guide[2] provides a quick reference tool for clinicians assessing and treating mild TBI. The military hopes it will help healthcare professionals in the field diagnose TBI more easily. The goal is to help medics recognize TBI through the help of the application so that more soldiers will receive the treatment they need.

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