VA, DoD release mobile app to help PTSD patients

Tuesday - 7/31/2012, 2:15pm EDT

Veterans and military personnel undergoing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) treatment now have help at their fingertips, thanks to a free smartphone mobile application released by the departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

PTSD patients can download the PE Coach app via the Apple App Store or the Android Market.

Developed by psychologists at the VA's National Center for PTSD and DoD's National Center for Telehealth and Technology, PE Coach, with the PE standing for "prolonged exposure," assists patients already undergoing therapy.

The app allows a patient to process the memory of a trauma, reducing distress and avoidance stemming from the trauma. With the help of his or her therapist, the patient can work through the memory and decrease the anxiety surrounding it. The app also helps the patient face situations that may trigger the traumatic memory.

"PE Coach is a helpful tool that assists our service members and veterans who are between visits and in treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder," said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, in a National Center for PTSD release. "We have shared this app with our military health care providers as well, and hope that many individuals who are receiving PE therapy will find it useful."

Other features of PE Coach include stress-relieving breathing exercises, a note-taking capability and the ability to record therapy sessions.

In 2011, Va and DoD released a similar app called PTSD Coach, which offers reference materials to help PTSD patients track symptoms, perform self-assessments and reach out to other PTSD patients for support. PTSD Coach won a ATA President's Award for Innovation.