DCoE Strategic Communications on July 7, 2010
The commonly referred to fight or flight, or stress response, occurs when the mind and body are challenged by difficult situations known as stressors. In fact, the fight or flight response is a “normal” reaction to a challenge or threat.
While lingering or especially intense stress can exact a physical and mental toll, research confirms that relaxation exercises like diaphragmatic (“belly”) breathing, when used regularly, can manage stress, focus the mind, and improve overall health and well-being.
Subject matter experts at DCoE’s National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2), led by Dr. Gregory Gahm, are developing a mobile skill-rehearsal tool. The iBreathe application will guide users through a diaphragmatic breathing stress management technique.
Dr. Jennifer Alford, T2’s project lead for iBreathe, notes that smart phone users carry their phones an average of 14 hours a day. “Mobile platforms represent an exciting opportunity for deploying training tools that are readily accessible and available on-the-go,” said Alford.
iBreathe will provide video-based instruction that explains the body’s reaction to stressors and how belly breathing can reduce stress. The application includes illustrative examples, narrator-guided exercises, practice sessions, pre/post stress ratings, graphically-charted progress, a journal, a visual stress tracker, customization and a feature that allows users to tag data points with personal notes.
According to Alford, the application can be used as a stand alone stress management tool or as a supplementary resource during actual treatment rendered by a health care professional.
iBreathe will be available as a free download from the iTunes Store after January 2011. Built for the iPhone and iPod Touch, a version of iBreathe will also be developed for the Android platform. A concept for an iBreathe application for children is also in the early stages of development.
According to Dr. Robert Ciulla, T2’s Population and Prevention Programs lead, iBreathe is one in a series of mobile applications that T2 is developing. In the pipeline are applications that will allow users to assess their overall emotional functioning, track their moods on a regular basis, and learn techniques to deal with post-traumatic stress. For providers, applications detailing guidelines for treating service members are in the planning stages.
“T2 recognizes the need to craft tools that are quickly accessed, self-paced and support confidential use,” said Ciulla.
Visit T2’s website at t2health.dcoe.mil for a full listing of their innovative programs, including:
*For more on new and emerging technologies for treating PH and TBI conditions, check out the June issue of DCoE in Action online!