Because he wanted to help his Iraq War veteran dad, a son designed an app to help stop his dad's PTSD nightmares, as well as to help improve their father and son relationship.
When Patrick Skluzacek, a US Army veteran returned home from Iraq in the mid-2000s, he said his life was good. He felt like every day was another welcome home party for him, not to mention that he had a paid month off his work, as well as he was back with his family after a long time.
However, after those days of feeling good, his nightmares started.
The son notices dad's behavior
Tyler Skluzacek, his son, now 27, knew that his father had changed.
Tyler shared that he was only 13 when his father came back from Iraq, and right then, he knew that the person who came back home is a different person. Because of their good father and son relationship, Tyler can easily see the changes from his dad.
He said that his father used to be so active and happy. However, after the war, his father was just depressed, lifeless, irritable, and the worst part is that he was not sleeping anymore.
Tyler said that it was hard seeing his father like that. What makes it harder is the fact that this strained their father and son relationship.
The dad's PTSD
Tyler's dad is suffering from a post-traumatic disorder or PTSD. It's what's causing the nightmares that had been haunting his dad for years. He retired from the Army in 2012 after serving for 22 years. In 2006, he served a tour in Iraq.
The father said that he was afraid of closing his eyes. He said that whenever he closes them, he could see the events that had happened as if he was still there.
He would wake up thrashing and sweating. Based on Veterans Affairs, they did not have a cure for it. They just had people with nightmares, people who are killing themselves, without them understanding why.
During most of Tyler's dad's 12 months deployment in Iraq, he was a US Army convoy commander. His job is to manage fuel deliveries to Fallujah and Ramadi, two places where most of the Iraqi rebellion is happening at the time.
Tyler's father, the one who has PTSD, said that to cope and to help himself to sleep, he will drown himself with alcohol that later on turned into mixing alcohol with pills.
Due to PTSD, his nightmares lasted for 9 years until his son was able to design the app.
Son develops an app
In 2015, Tyler designed a smartwatch app that will help stop his dad's nightmares, something that will also help with their father and son relationship. The app, called NightWare, tracks, manages and stops nightmares. He designed the app during his senior year at Macalester College.
In November, the app had already received the FDA clearance and it works by using a person's heart rate, as well as their movement to detect when they are having a nightmare. Then, it emits gentle vibrations to pull them out of the nightmare without waking them up.
Today, after Tyler sold the rights, the NightWare software is built into an Apple Watch. Tyler said that he did what was needed to help his dad as well as their father and son relationship. And if selling the rights of his app to a company to help more people, then he does not have any problem with that.
The software and the Apple Watch served as a prescription-only device that has been tested and cleared by the FDA. Also right now, the NightWare company is exploring the making of patient assistance programs. This is for those people who are not covered under the VA or the Defense Department.
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