a man sits on his bed and considers stress in armed service members

Common Stress Within Armed Service Members

A new flexible patch developed by the University of Massachusetts could track stress and fatigue among members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The technology is similar to that many professional and amateur athletes use to track heart rates and calories burned during workouts. But instead of tracking a relatively short-term workout, the patch designed by UMass would track stress in Armed Forces members over a longer period of time.

If you are a member of the United States Armed Forces or know someone who is, you are likely aware of the fact that stress and fatigue can have a profound impact on job performance. In some cases, it can result in PTSD or substance use disorders. If you are experiencing these issues, please reach out to the addiction and PTSD treatment center at Recovery Ranch TN today by calling 1.844.876.7680.

Stress in Armed Forces Members

Members of the armed forces are under a great deal of stress. They may be exposed to combat, have long work hours, or face other difficult challenges. This stress can take a toll on their physical and mental health. For instance, extended periods of stress can lead to issues such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability

In addition to these issues, those in the military who have undergone extended periods of stress may be at a higher risk of substance use issues.

Improving Short-Term and Long-Term Health

Service members in combat and other high-stress situations can face significant physical and mental wear and tear. The patch could ensure that active service members are fit as they carry out their duties. It could also be used to identify service members who may be at higher risk for future illnesses such as substance use disorders or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The patch was developed in collaboration with General Electric and the U.S. Air Force, with a $450,000 grant from the Nano-Bio Manufacturing Consortium, which the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory backs. The developers plan to use the technology to ensure that service members are not suffering from exceptional stress or fatigue that could hamper the performance of their duties. It could be beneficial for those who are in positions to make critical command decisions.

Drone pilots have been the main area of concern for the Air Force. These pilots are particularly vulnerable to long-term stress. Studies have estimated that as many as 30 percent of drone pilots suffer from chronic stress symptoms as well as fatigue related to poor sleep patterns.

Developing a Flexible, Inexpensive Tool

The UMass-led team has worked to develop a monitoring device that is both cheaper and even more mobile than current commercial fitness-tracking tools. The final product should be smaller than a Band-Aid and made of flexible plastics that will not restrict movement. Furthermore, by using a new technology called roll-to-roll printing that allows computing elements to be printed at nanoscale, meaning very small), UMass hopes the patch will eventually cost less than $1. The patch will be able to collect sweat from its wearer and then isolate biomolecules in the sweat that are indicators of stress and fatigue. An electronic sensor in the patch will be able to measure the concentration of these biomolecules and transfer the data for analysis.

Removing Service Members from Stressful Situations

The Air Force hopes that this technology will allow it to remove service members from stressful situations. It can also provide them with resources before chronic stress or fatigue can develop into mental illness or other serious health problems. Studies have shown that veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces have exceptionally high rates of PTSD, substance use disorders, and serious psychological distress (SPD).

The extent to which chronic stress contributes to the prevalence of these disorders if at all, is unclear. PTSD, for example, is currently understood to be the result of a single highly-traumatic incident rather than chronic stressors. However, it is possible that this technology could help to identify people whose PTSD symptoms have not yet manifested. It can also help people at risk for other psychological disorders that may be triggered or worsened by long-term stress.

Uses Beyond Military

The current project is intended specifically for military use. However, the UMass developers are confident that this kind of technology could eventually have applications far beyond identifying stressed-out service members. The team believes that future patches could detect concussions and monitor heart and liver function. The extremely flexible and lightweight nature of nanoscale printing means that anyone could easily wear such patches. It can also be applied nearly anywhere without interfering with people’s daily lives.

Seek Treatment for Stress in Armed Service Members at Recovery Ranch TN

At Recovery Ranch TN, we understand the toll that addiction and mental illness can take on a person’s life. We also know that everyone’s road to recovery is different. Our compassionate and experienced staff will work with you to create a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs. We offer a variety of programs and services that can help you heal body, mind, and spirit. Contact us at 1.844.876.7680 today to learn more about how we can help you on the road to recovery.

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