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Combat Stress? There’s an App for That

Check this out. The Pentagon’s effort to help troops manage the emotional strains of combat took another step into the 21st Century today with the rollout of the T2 Mood Tracker smartphone app.

Developed by the DoD’s National Center for Telehealth and Technology, nicknamed T2, the app lets troops and loved ones record and monitor their emotional reactions to everything from combat to post-combat therapy and even the highs and lows of everyday life at home.

All of this has the potential to help therapists diagnose and treat stress related problems, according to a release put out today by the center.

“Therapists and physicians often have to rely on patient recall when trying to gather information about symptoms over the previous weeks or months. Research has shown that information collected after the fact, especially about mood, tends to be inaccurate.” said Dr. Perry Bosmajian, a psychologist with the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, known as T2. “This application can improve the quality of the treatments for the provider and the patient. The best record of an experience is when it’s recorded at the time and place it happens.”

The app is already available for smartphones using the Android operating system and T2 says it will be ready for iPhone users early next year. 

– John Reed

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan October 26, 2010 at 7:30 pm

As a graduate student psychotherapist, (one who will shortly be an active-duty Army psychologist) I'm very skeptical about the use of what we call "Ecological Momentary Assessment" (EMA). The problem is, the last thing people want to do when they're really distressed is fill out a digital questionnaire about their feelings and what might be influencing them. I've personally used this approach in my own clinical research and it almost never returned useful results. In theory it sounds great. In practice, it's just taking a distressed person and adding an extra burden to their life. Several times I had people fill out digital questionnaires where they indicated that the most stressful aspect of their day was filling out their questionnaire every ______ number of times per day.

P.S. Unless I'm mistaken, that's a Brit soldier. Why's he sitting next to an M16?

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Ben October 27, 2010 at 12:43 am

The M-16 was popular among British SF guys. It could still be but i doubt it. Many of the SAS troops deployed during the Falklands War used the M-16. Mostly sure this is accurate at least its what i remember about it so…

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Ben... Again October 27, 2010 at 12:47 am

why do we do this… an app for emotional stress, i think this goes as one of those apps that someone puts on the app store hoping someone will buy.

P.S. the app will have like 5 downloads if that. useless waste of money.

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Wildcard October 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm

British 'SF guys' during the 90s used the Diemaco (now Colt Canada) C8 SFW Carbine MOD designation L119A1, although there has been a steady switch to HK 416' in recent years. You are right, they were issued M16 with 203' during the Falklands campaign, lighter rifles and an increase in ammo meant the G3's stayed home.

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Dudeman October 28, 2010 at 7:19 am

The SAS also used 203's in desert storm as well. That IS a Diemaco M-16, the flash suppresor gives it away.

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blight October 26, 2010 at 9:07 pm

That and soldiers may lie on the forms if they know it may lead to administrative action. Isn't this the same reason why soldiers say "they're fine" when they're not?

The alternative is the military designing systems that monitor troops mental wellbeing at all times, which is not bound to go over well…

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Ryan October 26, 2010 at 9:34 pm

Good point about the lying. I'm not used to that response in my current work because my current patients don't have anything to lose by being honest. In this case, even if soldiers won't really suffer from telling the truth, many of them THINK that they will - which leads to the same outcome.

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MSG VH October 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

I can tell you from personal expericance, this is cool geewhiz, high speed low drag and absolutely useless. Soldiers may use it if they are told to and you can use that data with a weather stone and you'll have the temperature of a Jackalope.
I'm sorry, I'm sure that this began with the best of intensions in some lab after some "hip" academics came up with the idea, but over all waste of time. Those who need it are not going to risk being discharged for confirming that they are no longer fit to serve. Been there done that.

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Dom October 27, 2010 at 4:11 am

Overwhelmingly sceptical response, but could be useful in specific cases I feel. Bear in mind that the soldier doesn't actually have to use it, but could be useful for family members to keep track of mood swings etc (as long as it's done with the soldier's knowledge and permission of course).
I'd rate it as 'wait and see'.

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Mike October 27, 2010 at 5:19 am

Is this for real? If so wow, what a waste of money.

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blight October 27, 2010 at 9:16 am

Reference:
http://t2health.org/apps/t2-mood-tracker

It seems little better than a digital version of a notebook to write down "He was stressed and threw a chair at the wall on October 2nd"

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Ms.BhAvEn October 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Yeh gieve em some pay and duly needed RnR then let them communicate stop the silence theve been through a ton of sht stop debiliting them and communicate with them, tell to to speak out I am aware of circustances but we all need to be heard we are only human. I imagine that if they arent told to shut their pie holes then youd see greater strenght and less stress. Besides whats the point in NO fear isnt that some kind of act hmmmth is. all I can say is a closed mouth is a time bomb waiting to riot. The ditch is a pretty lonely hump and all you can do is dig deeper and deeper

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Wildcard October 27, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Now if only the Pentagon could get an App for the LCS.

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Blue1 October 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Soldiers need to record their feels so other people can know whats going on inside their head? The military has had an app for that since before telephones were thought to be magical. They're called leadership. Something or other about "Mission First, Soldiers Always…" at least thats what I've always been told. Sounds like a failure at the Platoon and Company level responsibility…

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roland October 30, 2010 at 6:08 am

Give them some Wii.

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PVT KI November 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I could understand what they deem useful about the app, problem is that men are naturally more closed mouthed, something about our pride makes us that way. Now add in the mentality of a combat soldier in a position of example, don’t show fear, don’t show pain, don’t show emotion. All of these can be deadly on a field of battle, and a moral decay if troops underneath you see it. What would really be useful would be training in how to turn the combat mental mindset off. Be able to communicate with loved ones as a man and not as a soldier.

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militarymom November 2, 2010 at 12:01 pm

Apparently a number of you have never had any contact with or have family in the military that have been fighting in this war or have fought. I come from a long line of military family and my son is currently in the military. So many of these men and women fighting for our, yours and other countries freedom don't say what's on their mind or discuss what they've been through because of the unfeeling, uncaring people back here.
I say this because I have seen with my own eyes how some of the troops were treated when they returned home. If the soldiers are willing to use this type of app, then I'm all for it. It seems that none of you mind having apps on the phones, like playing games, search for the nearest starbucks, and even apps where you can keep up with the shows you may have missed during the day, but an app that give's our soldiers the chance to talk openly and the opportunity for their family members a chance to understand what they've been through is a bad idea.

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