DoD develops biofeedback app to help combat soldier stress

The Department of Defense National Center for Telehealth and Technology has released a stress-combating app for members of the military, enabling them to take advantage of biofeedback relaxation techniques, according to a Feb. 1 announcement.

Called BioZen, the mobile app is touted as the "first portable, low-cost method for clinicians and patients to use biofeedback in and out of the clinic." Built on an open source Bluetooth Sensor Processing for Android framework, the app displays real-time data from several different body sensors including electroencephalogram, electromyography, galvanic skin response, electrocardiogram, respiratory rate, and skin temperature.

BioZen combines Alpha, Beta, Delta, Gamma and Theta brain waves gathered from the sensors to show meditative and attentive cognitive states. The sensors enable the smartphone to track how a body is responding to the therapeutic effects of biofeedback, recording the data on the phone and generating a graphical representation of the recorded sessions to track a user's progress over time. 

"Mastering biofeedback successfully is difficult and frustrating for many people," said Dr. David Cooper, a psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, which serves as the primary DoD office for applying technology to psychological health, in the announcement. "This app takes many of the large medical sensors found in a clinic and puts them in the hands of anyone with a smartphone. BioZen makes it easier for anyone to get started with biofeedback."

In order to use the BioZen app, users need to purchase compatible medical sensors that start at $75-$150 per sensor. The app, however, is free for Android devices.

In related news, DoD's National Center for Telehealth and Technology at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Wash., also recently developed a mobile app for iOS and Android devices called LifeArmor designed to help military families develop coping skills and deal with common mental health concerns. The LifeArmor app includes information, assessments, videos with personal stories and interactive exercises.

To learn more:
- read the announcement from the DoD