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US Navy will tap Apple's iPad to battle PTSD with new app

The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing an app for Apple's iPad aimed at helping prevent post-traumatic stress among warfighters, a move that could save billions of dollars in associated medical costs.

In the Navy

Naval researchers and developers are working to develop an iPad app to reduce the incidence of post-traumatic stress in sailors and Marines, according to Medical Xpress. The system will undergo field testing at the Naval Center for Combat and Operational Stress Control in San Diego, Calif., this April.

The Stress Resilience Training System (SRTS) is being jointly developed between ONR and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). SRTS includes an iPad app that teaches Navy and Marine personnel to understand stress responses and engage in biofeedback techniques meant to mitigate stress symptoms.

The hope is that when warfighters encounter stressful events, previous experience with SRTS will enable them to handle the stress in such a manner that it lowers the likelihood of PTSD or other after effects.

The SRTS uses only an iPad and a heart rate monitor, which is attached to an earlobe. Its four sections — "Know How," "Techniques," "Games," and "Review" — give sailors the information they need on stress, as well as how to manage it, before engaging them with exercises and measuring their progress.

In addition to being a major social concern among returning soldiers, PTSD is a notable cost concern. A February 2012 Congressional Budget Office report found that 21 percent of military personnel returning from combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq suffer from PTSD. The report estimates that it costs about $1 billion in order to treat these individuals.