VISN 2: Veterans' Wellness, Summer 2011
Use Your Cellphone to Manage Your Health
Managing your health has never been easier, thanks
to a new trend called mobile health. The new tools and apps now available via your mobile phone can help you monitor and improve your health without having to set foot in
a doctor’s office.
|Free Smartphone App Helps Veterans Manage PTSD
VA and the Department of Defense have teamed up to create a free PTSD Coach app for Veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) who need immediate support to get through difficult moments. If you experience PTSD symptoms, the mobile app gives you coping skills that will work best for you, provides you with emotional support, and links you to treatment programs instantly. You can download the free app from the iTunes store for the iPhone and for Android devices. Visit VA’s National Center for PTSD website at
for more information.
Using these new tools and apps can help you modify your behavior and adopt healthier habits. For example, smartphone apps can help you keep track of your health and fitness goals, such as counting your daily steps. To help you manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes and asthma, newer, customized apps enable you to send personal data, such as blood sugar levels or peak flow numbers, to your health care provider, who can provide you with instant feedback if you need to take some type of corrective action.
But if you don’t have a smartphone, your regular cellphone can still help you stay healthy. Nearly any phone can handle simple text-messaging programs. Many of these are free to users who are enrolled in text-message plans. For example, pregnant women can sign up to receive free weekly texts of government-sponsored health tips timed to their due dates (text “baby”
to 511411). Another free program sends you daily weight-loss tips (go to
www.textmovers.com to sign up). You can also be reminded to take medication at certain times of the day or night through free text-messaging programs (go to
www.freerxreminder. com to sign up) or by setting an alarm clock on your phone.
Upstate New York PTSD Research by Vijay Kumar, Ph.D.
Researchers at VA Health Care Upstate New York are currently studying new and more definitive methods to identify posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and help alleviate the symptoms.
At the Syracuse and Buffalo medical centers, researchers are trying to develop a Web-based treatment package for Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)/Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF)/Operation New Dawn (OND) Veterans with PTSD. These Veterans will then be invited to participate in a study to assess why most PTSD patients experience rapid fluctuations of mood on a daily basis—for example, being sad one moment and then inappropriately snapping at a friend the next.
The Batavia VA Medical Center has a separate women’s residential PTSD program—one of 10 in the country—to enable investigators to focus on gender-specific research and treatment for PTSD. Batavia VA is also conducting research to compare differences in symptoms between Veterans of different wars (that is, Vietnam vs. OEF/OIF/OND). The idea is that the trauma Vietnam Veterans were exposed to
is not the same for Veterans in the Iraq war. As a result of these findings, it may not be advisable to treat Veterans from all wars the same way.
Buffalo Medical Center researchers are looking into whether telephone-based support provided for the first 90 days after a PTSD patient is discharged from a residential treatment program improves their behavior, decreases alcohol and drug use, and improves overall psychiatric outcomes.
Patient-Centered Care |
Erectile Dysfunction |
Health Care for Women Vets |
Uncle Sam Menu Makeover
Smartphone Apps |
Pharmacy Mail Order
End of Life |
Ask the Experts