Student creates app for vets to prevent night terrors

App to help vets prevent night terrors

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - A Macalester College student is getting noticed for inventing something to help people suffering from night terrors.

His inspiration? His father, an Iraq War vet, struggles with the terrors.

Senior Tyler Skluzacek said he was in sixth grade when his dad, Sgt. First Class Patrick Skluzacek, spent a year in Iraq. It had a huge impact.

"Your dad just disappearing for a year and coming back a little bit different and seeing his army buddies and them coming back a little bit different too… I have a real personal connection to the PTSD problem," Tyler said.

Patrick Skluzacek now has night terrors. "At three in the morning all of a sudden I'm startled awake," he said.

Tyler wanted to help his dad. He got the chance this September when he entered a computer programming contest called HackDC.

"Try to create something that will help him sleep better. That's what it's all about," he said.

In 36 hours, he and his team "The Cure" wrote code and created a smart watch app called myBivy, short for bivouac, which he explained is a military term for a place to sleep.

The app tracks heart rate and movement. The goal is to predict night terrors.

"After a couple weeks of tracking the soldier we can find the exact symptoms the exact symptoms of the onset of the panic attack and try to use the watch or use the android phone to disrupt that or take them out of the deep sleep but keep them asleep," Tyler said.

Tyler said the app will use sound or vibration to prevent night terrors.

The myBivy app earned Tyler and his team top prize - Best PTSD Mobile App for Clinicians. The team was awarded $1500.

"I am very proud of him, yeah," Patrick said.

The app has yet to go through clinical trials but Tyler wants it on every veteran's wrist. "My team and I kind of have a saying right now that my team and I won't sleep until the veterans can," he said.

Tyler says he has been working with the VA and sleep experts. His team is currently raising money through a Kickstarter campaign. They hope to start clinical testing of the app next spring.



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