Nightmares, No More: New CanineAlert Device for Service Dogs Helps Reduce PTSD for Owners, Particularly Veterans

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Though I’d typically crack into an article with a relatable quote or quip, the topic of this piece demands a more thoughtful introduction.

That topic?

PTSD.

For countless trauma survivors – particularly veterans, as this story will go on to describe – PTSD is an invisible wound that pangs long after a traumatic incident has occurred. It’s a shockwave that can prove more debilitating than many may let on. It should never be minimized or, worse yet, dismissed entirely. As nightmarish as PTSD can be, another less-observed nightmare is the dismissal of the person’s needs as they battle their own brains.

Yet for many, this isn’t limited only to sleeping nightmares – it’s a largely unlivable reality in dire need of actual remediation.

In today’s case, we’re talking about reliable support from service dogs.

Though my wife and I happen to have three cats, we love dogs and wholly respect when we’re out and about and we see someone with their own hardworking service dog. That is, after all, what they’re doing – these dogs are well-trained and they work tirelessly to help their owners manage conditions like PTSD and severe anxiety. They offer warm companionship and physical assistance (depending on the needs at hand), and research has shown how brave both a person and their dog can be in taking on healing, together.

So, given you’re reading this on TechZone360, there must exist a way that technology can play a huge role here, as well.

Enter Canine Companions, their tagline being “Leading with independence, from puppy to hero.” We find this quite fitting, and pleasingly so; service dogs take lead with their owners so they, too, may gain their own independence – and though not every service dog begins its journey as a puppy, the loving creature body-doubling with their person to lead well-deserved heroes into healthier means of living is an incontestably powerful thing.

Canine Companions is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit org (with six regional training centers across the U.S.) that strives to transform the lives of veterans (as well as other adults and children) with PTSD and myriad disabilities, completely free of charge.

The word “powerful,” with this context, strikes an even deeper chord.

And earlier this week, Canine Companions announced the launch of its CanineAlert Device.

The CanineAlert Device was developed and patented by Canine Companions’ in-house team, and it monitors its wearer’s heart rate. It’s more than just that, though; the device wirelessly communicates with the corresponding collar of the wearer’s service dog, and it activates a specific vibration that will prompt the dog to complete a specific action. Thus, unlike past approaches that focus on alerting the dog to wake the owner in the midst of a nightmare, the CanineAlert Device makes possible a less interruptive alternative. With the device, a faster recovery process is facilitated; the dogs, after feeling the vibration, should be trained to initiate tasks aimed at reducing palpable anxiety, trauma-induced stress and signs of heavy hypervigilance in a veteran’s post-nightmare state.

This is, in our eyes (and in Canine Companions’), legitimately groundbreaking. PTSD survivors often struggle in managing their overall sleep quality and their daily functioning thereafter, so a device that allows service dogs to provide different soothing measures to prevent future PTSD episodes should, in practice, be a sure-fire win. Canine Companions is unfortunately well-aware of how more than half (specifically 52%, per a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ National Vietnam Veterans Readjustment Study) of combat veterans have reported alarmingly crushing nightmares. But moreover, other studies of both former military and non-military individuals alike have also shown that 71% of them experience a dreadful replaying of the trauma, rather than abstract callbacks to the traumatic circumstance itself. (Though, make no mistake, both must be addressed for the sake of the people affected.)

Trauma survivors need more aid. That’s why Canine Companions is here to help rescue those in need of a mental lifeline – in this case, courtesy of a smartly trained service dog with the right modern-day device to make it happen.

"Our CanineAlert Device is a significant advancement in mitigating the impacts of PTSD," stated Paige Mazzoni, CEO of Canine Companions. "By combining innovative technology with the abilities of our trained service dogs, Canine Companions is able to provide veterans a better and faster solution for managing their symptoms. The CanineAlert Device is a revolutionary approach to managing PTSD and will improve the lives of many veterans. We are excited to broaden the application of the patent and technology over time, to help clients with a wider variety of symptoms and disabilities."




Edited by Greg Tavarez
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