A son's app to help veteran father with PTSD reaches milestone

Eric Chaloux
Updated: November 11, 2020 05:39 PM
Created: November 11, 2020 04:00 PM

Maybe you've heard of or seen the NightWare app, it isn't something you're going to quickly download in the App Store for the Apple Watch; instead, it requires a prescription.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week cleared the Minneapolis-based company's therapeutic platform as a medical device to reduce sleep disturbances related to post-traumatic stress disorder-associated nightmares in adults.

"Finally coming to fruition, helping people, it's just heartwarming and exciting to see," the app's creator, Tyler Skluzacek, said. "Especially with the timing right before Veterans Day."

Back in 2015, while a student at Macalester College, Skluzacek had an idea for a smartwatch program aimed at helping his Army veteran father sleep better.

"When he came back from Iraq, all was different," Skluzacek said. "The sleeping issues were affecting him in the worst way."

Between 11% and 20% of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans encounter some form of PTSD, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

National Center for PTSD

The new wearable technology monitors an individual’s sleep cycle, including heart rate and body movements associated with nightmares, the company said.

NightWare said a gentle vibration from the smartwatch can interrupt the nightmare but allow the person to stay asleep.

"There are prescribers in the military and Department of Defense that are dealing with this every day," said Grady Hannah, NightWare’s CEO.

A grant from the state of Minnesota is what Hannah credits with helping fuel their research.

"I think it's a great Minnesota story, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs provided us a $100,000 grant to help us with our clinical trial, and that was really key," Hannah said.

Skluzacek hopes others battling nightmares can now sleep a little better, like his veteran dad.

"If I get one email in the next year from a veteran saying, ‘I used your product and helped me in ways nothing else could help me,' I'll be pumping my fist," Skluzacek said.

The company hopes the program will be on wrists sometime in the first quarter of next year.

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