VA turns to smartphones to treat PTSD

The Department of Veterans Affairs has created a new smartphone app called PTSD Coach to help treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Developed in partnership with the Department of Defense, the new app is free for veterans, their families, friends and anyone else who wants to learn more about PTSD, its symptoms and treatments, VA officials say.

The new app's debut may be fortuitous, coming on the heels of VA revelations that PTSD claims are have risen 125 percent over the past decade. And that number may continue to grow, following last summer's loosening of some of the rules for how veterans qualify for PTSD treatment, according to an Army Times report.

Still, there is more to come: PTSD Coach is only the "first in a series" of VA/DoD-developed resources for veterans that will be delivered via telehealth or mobile channels. "Given the current popularity of mobile devices, VA and the Defense Department hope to reach tens of thousands of veterans, service members and their family members with the new suite of apps," VA officials said in a statement Tuesday.

The free app, now available through iTunes, is intended to be an auxiliary therapy for patients already undergoing PTSD treatment, and isn't intended to replace traditional therapy, adds Robert Petzel, the VA's under secretary for health.

To learn more:
- read the press release
- check out CNNs' coverage.
- learn more about rising PTSD claims (.pdf)
- get more details on changing PTSD rules

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