A college student with a desire to alleviate his father’s suffering has invented an app that helps people with PTSD stop having night terrors.
Tyler Skluzacek’s father, Patrick, a US Army Commander with PTSD, was suffering from debilitating night terrors.
Patrick served in Iraq in 2007 and at night his dreams took him back to Fallujah. He could only fall asleep with the help of alcohol and pills — and his life slowly fell apart.
“[I] pretty much lost everything,” he told NPR, fighting back tears. “My house, everything, my job, everything went.”
Tyler was a senior at Macalester College when he entered a “Hackathon” to figure out a way to help his dad.
During the event, he put together a team to program a smartwatch to detect the onset of night terrors based on the wearer’s heart rate and movement.
The app creates enough stimulus via a vibration to “pull them out of the deep REM cycle and allow the sleep to continue unaffected.”
Tyler tested the watch on his father, and through trial and error, he eventually perfected the algorithm.
“It was night and day when I put that watch on and it started working,” Patrick said. The vibrations, he says, were “little miracles.”