PTSD: When Thoughts Could Kill

PTSD: When Thoughts Could Kill

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) , or Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) as it is also called, is a mental health condition that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening or life-changing event, such as  combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault, or miscarriage. It affects about 7.7 million American adults in any given year.


In the United States, in 2016 nearly 45,000 people died by suicide (being one every 12 minutes). People who have experienced a traumatic event and/or have PTSD are at greater risk to attempt suicide. About 27% of those diagnosed with PTSD have attempted suicide at some point in their life.


Last month, the media reported on three separate yet related death by suicide in just one week. Two of them were survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last year; where 17 teachers and students died. One of the students was diagnosed with PTSD as she coped from survivor’s guilt. The other was a father of one of the children who was killed at Sandy Hook.


In the media, PTSD has been primarily associated with the military, but as we all know, it is sadly  pervasive across society particularly with first responders and trauma practitioners. Over the years it has been referred to in numerous terms: combat or battle fatigue, shell shock or war-shocked, or war neurosis. Veterans are particularly vulnerable because of their combat exposure. Through years of research, various treatments have been tested and proven to work in this memory-scarred patient group.



From simple but effective treatments like Talk Therapy or Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy, to technology-based approaches, PTSD can be treated, and managed through a combination of these therapies and medication.


Patient engagement is key in the treatment process. The tools are in the patients’ hands as well as the healthcare provider. Today, patients use at least one piece of technology from the multitude of wireless and wearable devices that are available being their mobile phone.


However, if a dedicated health-focused platform is to be used for the care of PTSD patients, it cannot be simply a health app, nor a medical chat bot. It must communicate real care with real-time solutions. Communicating care when it matters is where intervention can help prevent escalation, redirect the patient, and save lives.


Connecting the patient to the health provider is extremely crucial in PTSD care, but unlike population management solutions, individualized care is prescribed in managing different treatment regimen for PTSD.


When patient data is generated from the connection between the patient and the health provider, the processing, analysis, and sharing of this data highlights the real value of technology to PTSD care.


To predict a critical moment in the treatment journey of a PTSD patient and what intervention is appropriate, multiple data types are needed such as prescription and clinical history. Add to that  data from wearable devices which can generate sleep data, while mood data can be obtained through patient responses through a patient engagement platform.


Comparative analysis of such data, tied to predictive modelling algorithms  can help determine patterns or changes, and dissonance between the wearable and interactions.


In patient monitoring, no response from a patient through a patient engagement platform or a wearable device can be used in predictive modeling as a sign of risk, to trigger an alert that can initiate interventions. Taking it a step further, when the whole care team is in one communication loop, then a more coordinated care for the patient - such as keeping him engaged in his own care - can enable better outcomes and, most importantly, avoid adverse health events.


LifeWIRE’s Smart Navigator Platform is one such technology. It collects not only quantitative (vitals, activity tracking, and biometrics) but also qualitative data (patient reported outcomes or mood). The collection and sharing of this information allows for the automation of a continuous exchange and a more holistic 360 degree view of the patient.


A patient’s health and mental state, while they cannot be definitive, can provide important data for improved insights. For PTSD, patient engagement is critical to ensure interventions before a tragedy happens.



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