At a time of rapid medical processes, basic research is developing innovative treatments. The 21st Century Cures Act was recently signed into law, creating new pathways for drug approval, and tech devices are revolutionizing weight loss, diabetes management, and even aiding in the treatment of conditions like Parkinson’s through the use of deep brain stimulation. Still, in many cases, brain-based issues remain among the most intractable and difficult to treat.
From headaches to memory and mental health, app developers aim to improve our current approaches to brain health. We can feel better and function better with the help of technological advances.
A Headache Helper
Some days, you get a headache that no amount of Tylenol will get rid of – you need something more. But what? Targeted sound waves may be the answer.
Low-frequency sound waves can help relax the mind and relieve headaches, and the Brain Wave Headache Relief app puts these specifically engineered sound waves at your fingertips. The app offers daytime and evening specific programs as well as additional background sound for your enjoyment. While your conscious mind enjoys the soundtrack, the underlying sound waves can relieve headaches by altering alpha, theta, and delta waves in your brain.
One of the most devastating neurological conditions today is Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia – conditions that rob people of themselves, of the memories and personalities that make us who we are. It comes as no surprise, then, that many of us spend our younger years seeking out memory preservation strategies, including taking fish oil and choline supplements, doing puzzles, and remaining active. Still, this is rarely enough.
In response to our cultural concern with memory and mental agility, many app makers have stepped up with potential solutions, including widely publicized (and controversial) programs like Lumosity. Lumosity hardly has a hold on the market, however. Other popular memory training apps include Elevate and Peak, with Peak featuring mini-games meant to boost attention span, potentially helping users beat out multitasking and distraction in daily life.
Though brain training activities have the potential to keep users stimulated and build neural connections, they can’t beat disease alone, which is why it’s important to be aware of signs of memory loss. Unfortunately, when your memory starts to slip, it can be hard to notice the signs and take them seriously – we all want to discount forgetfulness as normal aging or distraction. Sometimes we need to be pushed to address the issue. That’s what makes the Neurotrack app so useful.
Neurotrack uses eye-tracking technology to spot signs of Alzheimer’s in users. It’s a simple 5-minute process that can be done at home via smartphone and the science behind it is much stronger than anything supporting brain training apps. This program can be a real lifeline for concerned family members hoping to keep tabs on potential problems among older relatives.
Though we’ve become more aware of mental health as a nation in recent years, appropriate treatment for conditions like depression and anxiety can still be hard to access, particularly for low-income individuals and those living in rural areas. Apps, however, are a low-cost way to help circumvent some of the most challenging symptoms.
If you struggle with anxiety, which is an adaptive and necessary trait, but one that can get out of control, an app like Headspace can help. For a monthly fee of $8, you can access daily guidance packs that help you check your mood and connect with your emotions. You can also choose the life issues you wish to address, helping you to cope with specific concerns, such as job stress or social anxiety. While not the same as seeing a mental health professional, apps make a great stopgap between sessions and can help those without access to treatment make steps towards psychological health.
Apps are never a replacement for medical professionals, but they can be a great way to manage day-to-day and subclinical issues and monitor ongoing problems. And if you can knock out that horrid headache by plugging in your headphones or playing a brain stimulating game instead of Pokemon Go, why not give it a shot?