July 9, 2010
A medical arm of the Department of Defense has created an iPhone application to help military personnel better handle stressful situations by practicing relaxed breathing.
A research and development team of experts at the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2) developed iBreathe, which will be available free via the iTunes Store beginning after January 2011. The DCoE looks after the psychological health of military personnel as well as takes care of those with traumatic brain injury as a result of military service. Researchers thought that as people carry their phones with them for an average of about 14 hours a day, providing an application that helps them practice relaxing will make them generally better to cope with stress, according to a DCoE blog post about iBreathe. iBreathe "allows for easy, hip-pocket access to a deep breathing exercise to assist with stressful situations," said Dr. Robert Ciulla, the lead psychologist for population and prevention programs for T2, via email. He said that while the app was developed for military personnel, veterans and their families, its availability through iTunes will bring its benefits to the general public as well. People in the military are often in high-stress situations, resulting in what is known as "fight or flight," a normal, heightened physical and mental reaction to stress. As intense stress can take a toll on someone's health, research has shown that breathing deeply from the diaphragm can manage stress, focus the mind and improve overall health and well being, according to the blog post. iBreathe guides users through a stress-management technique based in breathing deeply from the diaphragm. It does this through video-based instruction that explains the body's reaction to stressors and how belly breathing can reduce stress. It also includes illustrative examples, narrator-guided exercises, practice sessions, stress ratings, graphically-charted progress, a journal, a visual stress tracker, customization and a feature that allows users to tag data points with personal notes, according to the blog post. The first version of iBreathe will work the iPhone and iPod Touch, but eventually a version of the app for the Android platform will be available. Researchers also are developing an iBreathe concept application especially for children.
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