Schizophrenia and other mental disorders and illnesses affect a significant portion of the population. Now, smart home technology, devices, and mobile apps could provide a new way to treat these patients and help them ease their livelihoods.
Scientists and researchers all over the country are teaming with medical specialists who work with patients who have a mental condition because they are familiarized with their lifestyles and problems.
Technology has become increasingly more useful to help patients of all kinds. Developers have worked on solutions to help blind children how to code, and army veterans are also benefiting from federal initiatives that provide them with smart devices.
Hands-on contact with technology makes patients less paranoid
One of the ailments that most affects schizophrenic patients is paranoia. They suffer from random episodes, but specialists know fear triggers most of them.
A general trigger agent has always been technology due to its many negative connotations. People of all kinds, not only those who have schizophrenia, are wary of technology because they fear for their privacy, or believe some devices have destructive potential.
At the Centerstone Mental health wing in Louisville, Kentucky, patient Lon Moore has found that opening up gadgets to see what’s inside helps them cope with some of his fears.
Moore suffers from schizoaffective disorder, and he has even taken to making his own devices instead of freaking out at them. In his room, there are several disassembled PCs and hundreds of parts lying around.
Another schizophrenic patient and community leader, Dante Murray, has found that apps and smart devices also take his mind off things. He owes much of his recovery to a Fitbit smartwatch, which helps him track his every activity.
Smart devices could integrate further to help with mental illness
People living with mental disorders live complicated lives for sure, and technology only goes so far to help them and their families or caregivers nowadays. Luckily, specialists are working dedicated solutions that could make things a little better.
For example, medical professionals and researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health are developing a passive app called Beiwe, which uses all the sensors and trackers in a patient’s mobile device to monitor them.
Based on the usage data, the application can detect if there is some erratic behavior, and warn both users and family members of a potential episode. Besides from doing this, it could also offer some distraction in the form of tasks during the day.
A different team from the University of Washington, Seattle is developing Focus, an app with a more active approach to help people with schizophrenia get rid of the voices they sometimes hear in their heads.
Focus could help users by telling them what to say to the voice for it to vanish. For instance, the app would suggest patients to ask the voice to make a prediction that would, most likely, fail. When it does, that will help people snap back to a stable state.
Developers are also working with existing gadgets like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the multiple smart home devices in the market to make apps that are easy for people with schizophrenia to set up. Routines and precision help patients cope better with this disorder as well.