Wearable Technology for Mental Health
Digital technology offers real hope for reaching more people with mental health care help. But while the need is strong, the technology might require some patience.
Shortages and uneven distribution of mental health professionals abound, with many rural and poor areas having no coverage at all. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services projects that the shortfall (PDF. 452KB) will only deepen through 2025. Digital technology offers real hope to reaching those people in the future.
"There's also a subgroup of people who have no interest in seeking a face-to-face modality," says Michelle Newman, Ph.D., professor of psychology and a researcher at Pennsylvania State University (PSU) in University Park, Pennsylvania. "Or sometimes this will be the foot in the door" for people who might have been reluctant to seek help.
Portable devices that can gather information, assess activity and other biomarkers, and even deliver interventions have tremendous potential, say the scientists who study them.
"The earlier you can detect a shift in a person starting to go in a negative direction, the better," Newman says. The trick now will be figuring out how to use these new tools to intervene for the good of the individual.
Perhaps one in five Americans has a smartwatch or activity tracker like a Fitbit, which typically returns better quality data than a smartphone presently can, but dedicated wearable technology devices are also being developed specifically for mental health care. Here are a few examples available now, or on the horizon:
- Abilify MyCite, developed by Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health, is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and as an adjunct for depression in adults. A sensor in the pill lets a patch the patient wears on his torso know when it's been ingested. Up to three-fourths of patients with schizophrenia do not take their medication as prescribed; nonadherence can result in poorly managed symptoms and major life disruptions. Ability MyCite's usefulness in bettering adherence has not been established, but Otsuka hopes for "clarity" about patient behavior "to better inform decision-making for physicians and their patients," a spokesman said.
Abilify MyCite reports to a tracking mobile application (app) on the patient's smartphone, which can transmit the data to the patient's physician. Two years after receiving FDA approval, Abilify MyCite wholesales for $1,650 for a 30-day supply, and remains poised for a limited rollout via selected insurance firms and state Medicaid programs.
- Amy Serin, Ph.D., a Peoria, Arizona, neuropsychologist, has developed a tactile bilateral alternatingstimulation system, TouchPoints (formerly Buzzies), a pair of wireless devices worn on wrists or in pockets when a patient feels anxious, that Serin says can "change the brain's response to stress to a great degree." The basic model costs $160. While "the concept and even the technology are not new," Serin, who heads up a clinical practice at three centers outside Phoenix, added a wireless portable component and improved the stimulation, and has done or sponsored research to support her contention that TouchPoints "takes away your stress."
- Awake Labs, based in Toronto, Ontario, has developed and is testing an app on a Samsung smartwatch to allow facility-based caregivers to track the emotional states of adults with an autism spectrum disorder, and respond. Working with Community Living Windsor, a care facility, in a pilot project funded by the Ontario Brain Institute, Awake Labs hopes that data gathered now will make the as-yet-unnamed app usable in more settings, says Andrea Palmer, Awake Labs' chief executive officer.
"The dream for a lot of us has been to be there with our clients, and now tech is allowing us to do that, to be right there with people struggling with stressors," says Adrian Aguilera, PhD, associate professor and a researcher at the School of Social Welfare at the University of California Berkeley.
The most promising device is the smartphone. More than three-fourths of Americans own one, "this little powerful computer in their pockets," says Aguilera. Smartphones have sensors — accelerometers, for instance, which measure the force of acceleration caused by movement or gravity — with tremendous promise for mental health in the long term. However, wearable technology in general so far is lagging in terms of practical mental health applications. Among the reasons are its novelty, complexity, and cost.
John Carroll, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist, and director of the Center for Human-Computer Interaction at PSU, notes that wearable technology is not for everyone and that it won't suffice for people with severe symptoms. "It's incredibly useful to distinguish the serious cases from the non-serious ones," Carroll says.
"There are a lot of valid concerns," says Timothy Aungst, PharmD, associate professor of pharmacy practice at the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, a researcher on digital technology in pharmacy. "For example, what is the data being gathered, and who has the right to access that data?"
The answers to those questions are not always as transparent as the public might think. A recentinvestigation in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that 29 of 36 top-ranked apps for depression and smoking cessation shared data with Google and Facebook that could have compromised individuals' privacy, even though the terms and agreements of only 12 of those apps divulged in user agreements that this could happen.
In light of the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, in which Congress loosened regulation of some medical and mental health innovations, and with the FDA asserting plans to "reimagine" its oversight role when it comes to digital health technology, caution is imperative among clinicians and consumers alike.
Stephen Schueller, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychological science at the University of California at Irvine, and executive editor of PsyberGuide, an online library that rates and reviews mental-health apps, estimates that upwards of 10,000 are available. "Most are pretty bad; some are even potentially harmful," he says. One 2015 survey concluded that most informational apps skimped on core psycho-educational principles, while monitoring apps generally failed to track such critical information as medication and sleep. PsyberGuide, a project of One Mind, generally reviews only the 2 to 4 percent of apps that are evidence-based. Schueller says, "We want to get those out to the public."
There's a good reason why the smartphone is the chief conduit of portable technology, even though it's not a perfect tool for gathering data. About half of people who own a smartwatch, the most common consumer wearable, stick them in a drawer after acquiring them. The smartphone, on the other hand, is ubiquitous. Especially among younger people, when a smartphone is not on the user's person, chances are that person is either in the shower or asleep.
"The uptake doesn't require any additional thought. It's embedded in what people are doing on a day-to-day basis," says David Mohr, Ph.D., professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's medical school in Chicago, an APA Fellow, and founder and director of the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technologies at Northwestern. Mohr's team has developed and studied a suite of apps called IntelliCare that offers interventions for anxiety and depression, now available on Android and iPhone.
Mohr also headed up a team that used GPS and other smartphone features to estimate the moods of unseen subjects by their level of movement and phone use, both frequency and duration. A side benefit of the study was to point up "numerous clinical opportunities" the smartphone offers, including "continuous monitoring of at-risk populations with little patient burden" and just-in-time adaptive interventions (JITAI), appropriate supports delivered when an individual needs them.
But Mohr says that his and other studies have been hard to reproduce. "I've become very skeptical about a lot of data," he says. "We're running into a problem of variability."
That is, the activity level of a 60-year-old, or anyone in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in January, is going to be different from that of a 25-year-old resident of Key West, Florida. "We're going to need to do much larger studies," Mohr notes.
Wearable devices, perhaps a sensor attached to the skin like a temporary tattoo, worn around the clock for a week or so and sending data to a smartphone, may have a role. That data could be more precise than the information a phone can gather, and "the subject wouldn't need to remember to put it on every day," Mohr says.
At the same time, he says, researchers are going to have to do a better job of testing effectiveness — whether a device or an app will actually be useful in a care setting, that is. Testing protocols for digital innovations must also be speeded up and otherwise adapted to reflect how quickly things change in the field, he says.
"Digital technologies are not fixed," Mohr says. "Even during a trial, we have to be continuously optimizing and updating. And so what we should be testing is not the application but the principles. What is the digital service trying to do?"
Wilderskies - The Stress Hack You Haven't Heard Of (Yet)
The Stress Hack You Haven't Heard Of (Yet)
College is a stressful time, we’ve got exams to worry about, being broke, annoying guys, staying in shape and on top of all that it feels like we’re supposed to have everything together. College is the experience of a lifetime, but it’s also a huge source of anxiety for many of us. We are privileged to be here and to learn but it comes at a cost, as with anything. What we see in the movies isn’t real, Anna Kendrick did us a dirty one because there’s no way her character in Pitch Perfect wasn’t super duper stressed out all of the time because she was juggling so much at the time. Physically, stress has repercussions. For one, headaches, hyperventilation, and sweats. Yeah, there’s no way they’re going to put that in a Hollywood film because it ain’t pretty.
So where do we go from here? Mental health must not be ignored any further because it’s a prevalent issue in our society of perfection. Luckily, I’ve found something that works for me and I want to share it with you all. It’s called TouchPoints and I’ve been using them for the last month to de-stress, re-focus, and get better sleep. You may be asking, what exactly are TouchPoints? Well, girl, I’ll tell you. TouchPoints are essentially two bands you can wear or put anywhere on your body that vibrate to a certain rhythm depending on what you need. For example calming down after getting angry, focusing during tasks, and falling asleep easier. This is all backed by science. There’s something called “the stress switch” which turns on in response to anything that is anxiety-inducing. TouchPoints uses a patent-pending method called BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation-tactile). Essentially, Touchpoints eliminates those excess beta waves that cause any sort of stimulation overload via rhythmic vibrations scientifically researched and calculated.
Another benefit of using these devices is that TouchPoints is a company founded by women. Specifically, Neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin and CEO and Child Advocate Vicki Mayo. These women wanted to know how they could help themselves and other people reduce everyday stress so they found an alternative way to do just that after researching, creating neuro-studies, and partnering with influential people in the field of neuroscience like Judith Owens who boasts an MD and MPH. She’s also a professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. I believe in the science behind TouchPoints as well as the women behind the scenes who run the company and do the scientific-based research. I’m excited to share this with you all because it’s a real game-changer for anyone who suffers from stress in their everyday lives. Why not give it a try? I did, and I find myself focusing better on those pesky homework assignments, sleeping better, and decreasing general stress when I use TouchPoints.
Brain by Design's Deep Change Videocast - Episode 3: Managing Stress Is a Learn-able Skill with Dr. Amy Serin
Managing Stress Is a Learn-able Skill with Dr. Amy Serin
The Deep Change Project is a year-long journey to discover what's possible at the outer edges of human potential. It represents an adventure through brain-hacking, self-directed neuroplasticity, the latest brain tech, and is creator James Garrett's way of relentlessly trying to rewire the brain and fundamentally change the individual within a year's time.
In this third episode of the Deep Change Videocast, James invites Neuropsychologist and TouchPoints inventor, Dr. Amy Serin, to explore why stress is not what you think it is, why it's the root cause of many of our problems, and how to get good at managing it. Click to watch or listen to the audio here, and connect with James through his website or on Facebook.
Calgary Herald - Keenan: A magic gadget for male stress?
Keenan: A magic gadget for male stress?
Stress affects everyone, and it’s not all bad. Without some positive stress, we wouldn’t get out of bed in the morning, or run that marathon, or write the great Canadian novel. Still, the negative impacts of stress are well known, ranging from psychological issues like anger, irritability, and loss of sex drive, to physical symptoms like chest pain, indigestion, and even skin eruptions.
Most studies show a higher percentage of women report being stressed, but men may simply be reluctant to admit it. Denying stress and holding it in may cause even more problems.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a magic button that could somehow clear away stress? I found something that claims to be just that, at my favorite store in San Francisco. Target Open House is a smart home showroom, where you can see hot new tech products that the retail chain might someday sell in their stores.
That’s where I met Amy Serin, a PhD-holding psychologist from Arizona. She was demonstrating TouchPoints™ — two small vibrating buttons that, she claims, “can decrease stress by up to 70 percent in as few as 30 seconds.” The underlying technology is BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation tactile). You can hold the devices, wear them on wristbands or even put them in your socks to help you sleep.
Serin is the inventor of the device and co-founder of the company that makes and sells it. She was demonstrating it to a woman who said she freezes up with stress when she has to attend a certain business meeting. After trying the Buzzies, as they used to be called, she asked how to order some.
Then it was my turn. Serin had me think about something that was causing me stress and asked what part of my body I was feeling it in. Sure enough, after a bit of vibrating, I did indeed feel calmer and more relaxed, in all parts of my body.
I wound up with a set to test out, along with pointers to some of the studies at https://thetouchpointsolution.com/pages/research. Various researchers report good results using the devices for anxiety, autism, irritability, sleep problems, PTSD, and even post-concussive syndrome.
My first brainwave was to take them along when I went to sea with the Royal Canadian Navy since there have been suggestions that vibration devices can help counter motion sickness. But the seas were dead calm.
Then I lent them to a friend with a teenage son who is on the autism spectrum. He gave them a try but found the noise too annoying. He also objected to the thought that the device was manipulating his brain waves, which is exactly what the company claims on their website, showing before and after brain scans with significantly reduced beta wave activity.
The device has three modes, blue for sleep, green for calm and red for anger. There’s also a free app that allows finer control of the frequency, intensity, and overlap, and provides pre-sets for things like focus, performance, and craving.
I sought out Jaideep Bains, Ph.D., professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at the University of Calgary. He’s a noted expert on neurophysiology and stress and a principal investigator whose research is highlighted at stressynomics.com.
His first reaction to holding the TouchPoints™? “Cool toy, but it would drive me crazy.” He acknowledges that the company has some very prestigious people on their advisory board, but objects to the characterization of the devices as being based on neuroscience. “They looked at beta waves, but beta waves happen in the cortex for a lot of reasons. They don’t necessarily have to do with stress.”
He notes that much of their research results are subjective reports. “They’re very careful in their literature to say they’re not recommending this for any disease or any medical benefit. If this were to be thought of as a medical device, what you’d need is a randomized trial. You’d need cortisol levels, you’d need autonomic outputs like heart rate, blood pressure, respiration, and sweat.”
He does agree with some of the material on the company’s website, especially when it says that stress activates circuits in your brain over which you don’t have control.
As Bains and many others have observed, there’s a huge possibility of a placebo effect here. Indeed, that may be what happened to me, and to the lady in the store. We felt reduced stress because we expected to feel it.
“That woman would probably be better off just going for a walk, and breathing deeply,” says Bains, “and removing herself from the stressful situation.”
Of course, a stress-busting walk isn’t always an option. If you’d like to try TouchPoints™, they cost $159.99 US (plus shipping, duty, and taxes) from the company’s website. They do offer a 30-day free trial, though dealing with international returns might raise your stress level.
You could just wait to see if and when they make it onto the shelves at your nearest U.S. Target store
Dr. Tom Keenan is an award-winning journalist, public speaker, professor in the Faculty of Environmental Design at the University of Calgary, and author of the bestselling book, Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy.
Consumer Technology Association - This Entrepreneur Created Tech to Alleviate Stress
This Entrepreneur Created Tech to Alleviate Stress
Digital health technology has taken off, and is improving health care and even saving lives. Now, there is tech that helps alleviate stress. The Touchpoint Solution technology uses micro-vibrations to help users relieve their stress.
We had a chance to speak with CEO and co-founder, Vicki Mayo, about The Touchpoint Solution and her best advice for female entrepreneurs in tech.
Tell us a little about your career background and your current role at The Touchpoint Solution.
I am the CEO and Co-founder of the TouchPoint Solution. My co-founder and I invented a technology that we embedded into devices called TouchPoints that alleviates stress in as few as 30 seconds. We currently sell three versions of our product- TouchPoints for Calm, TouchPoints for sleep, and TouchPoints for kids.
I am a serial entrepreneur and I started my first business at the age of 14. I have started and grown several businesses across finance, hospitality, and tech over the past 20 years. I also served the people of Arizona as the state’s Chief Transformation officer focusing on creating efficiencies in the Government.
Due to a situation when I was 20 years old that led me to adopt two teenage boys, I am an avid advocate for children’s rights and have spent a significant amount of time supporting the efforts of the Court Appointment Special Advocate program, creating a camp for foster siblings, and co-founding the Keys to Success Program, focusing on aiding youth aging out of the foster care system.
How does the technology behind The Touchpoint Solution work?
What people don’t realize about stress is how it affects us daily. Think of something stressful right now and notice your body. You may feel your shoulders tensing, your breath becoming shorter, or a pit in your stomach. These are the effects of stress and they come from the brain’s sympathetic nervous system (aka The Fight or Flight Mechanism).
TouchPoints stop this part of the brain from engaging allowing your body to relax within seconds. TouchPoints help shift your brain from the fight or flight function into the logical/rational part of the brain which also makes situations feels less stressful. Our published research shows a 70 percent reduction in stress in just 30 seconds of TouchPoints use.
You recently exhibited at CES 2019. Tell us a little about your experience.
CES 2019 was the best conference TouchPoints has exhibited at to date! During the show, TouchPoints were named #1 in the CES Health and Wellness Technology sector by Digital Trends and Forbes. Team TouchPoint enjoyed the opportunity to speak with thousands of interested attendees and many leads, both distributor and media, have come from this past CES conference. We also had press coverage that spanned across eight countries.
What would be your best advice for female entrepreneurs in the tech industry?
Own it. As a female in an industry dominated by men, it’s easy to try and blend in. I would argue that you should be yourself and share your opinion. You’ve worked hard to get to where you are, be proud of that!!
Learn more about The Touchpoint Solution and our other incredible CTA members.
CTA recently announced we will invest up to $10 million into venture firms and funds focused on funding underrepresented founders, women-led startups, and diverse leadership teams. Learn more from CTA.
This article first appeared in The Consumer Technology Association on March 13, 2019 by the CTA Staff. To read the full article, click here.
Where Women Create WORK's Spring 2019 Issue - Vicki Mayo
Where Women Create WORK's Spring 2019 Issue - Vicki Mayo
Hubspot - What Can a Brain Scan Tell Us About Stress and Technology?
Originally published Feb 14, 2019, 7:00:00 AM, updated February 14, 2019, by Amanda Zantal-Wiener (@amanda_zw).
My brain has been called many things over the years -- from a "gold mine," to a "minefield," to, most recently, a "hamster wheel."
That was the term assigned to it at CES 2019, a major annual consumer electronics events after I received a brain scan while sampling a product called TouchPoints.
TouchPoints are small wearable devices that release micro-vibrations that, when worn by users, can trigger a nervous system response that has shown, in some cases, to lower stress levels. That's where the brain scan comes in -- at CES, the team behind TouchPoints used it to show what a user's brain activity looked like before and after using the devices.
But how, exactly, does it work -- and what does it say about the broader concept of stress, as well as where it intersects with technology?
Here's what happened when I underwent my own brain scan, and what I learned about that very question.
Wearable, Connected Wellness
TouchPoints fall under the category of wearables: a type of technology that seeks to shrink down intelligent electronic devices -- e.g., smart watches -- to an accessory or item of clothing that can be worn by its users. In 2019, wearables are predicted to see a 9% increase in sales, leading them to draw high levels of attention among consumers and industry analysts alike.
The specific wearable technology behind TouchPoints are the vibrations they emit -- formally known as bilateral alternating stimulation tactile, or BLAST.
According to research conducted by Dr. Amy Serin -- a neuropsychologist and the founder of the Serin Centers for psychology, who helped administer the brain scans -- exposure to BLAST vibration has correlated with changes in brain activity that indicate a deescalated stress response. These include modifications to the user's overall calmness, as well as physical symptoms that often result from stress, like stomach pain or muscle tension.
The Brain Scan
What the Scan Measures
So, how can a brain scan measure the effectiveness of a wearable device like TouchPoints?
Well, the scan -- formally known in this case as a quantitative electroencephalogram -- is used to measure beta activity in the brain. When such brain activity is elevated, Dr. Serin explains, it can be an indicator of stress.
"Excess beta activity is associated with anxiety and obsessive thinking," says Dr. Serin. And if a scan shows decreased beta activity, it's "associated with clearer thinking and calm focus."
As a self-admitted over-thinker, I wasn't sure just how effective a wearable device would really be in addressing what is, for me, a typical baseline of high stress. If daily meditation and mindful breathing practices weren't enough, how could wearables -- which have faced a degree controversy -- so easily fix the problem?
But when a neuropsychologist invites you to try a product that could potentially lower your anxiety in 30 seconds -- and pair it with a personal brain scan -- you say, "Yes."
Following the 45-minute process of being fitted for a brain-wave-reading cap, being asked to think of something stressful, and then being fitted with the TouchPoints (see the video at the end of this post), my results were in and displayed on a large screen.
"That's your hamster wheel," said Dominic Di Loreto MA, BCN Director of Applied Neuroscience at the Serin Center, pointing to the image on the left: the "before TouchPoints" image of my brain activity.
The image on the right, meanwhile, displays my brain activity after wearing the TouchPoints for a few minutes.
I stood, dumbfounded, starting at my scan results. "That's incredible," I said, after muttering some disbelief-inspired expletives.
What The Results Mean
As for my own scan results, "The image on the left shows the excess beta activity in your brain before TouchPoints. Excess beta activity is associated with anxiety and obsessive thinking," she explains. "During TouchPoints use, your beta activity lowered significantly as shown on the right. This is associated with clearer thinking and calm focus."
It's an intriguing intersection -- that a phenomenon that's been shown to increase stress levels (technology) is actually being built at a rate higher than ever to counter these symptoms, and to improve overall mental and physical health. The entire concept started, arguably, with mobile apps designed for mindfulness. Now, the technology can be worn by the user directly.
I had a chance to speak with Dr. Serin before, during, and after the brain scan process -- and about what devices like wearables say about the current state of stress in the modern era.
Data collected by Dr. Serin and her team, for instance, "show that it is unfortunately very common for people to be in stressful states way too often. But using TouchPoints can bring a profound sense of calm without the user having to shift what they are doing."
Stress is on the rise globally. Our bodies are not meant to live with artificial light, screen time instead of real interaction, chronic sleep problems, et cetera. The result is more excess stress. And worse, the common 'stress management' techniques add more to your day or are inefficient.
- Dr. Amy Serin, Neuropsychology and TouchPoint Solution Co-founder
Dr. Serin pointed to the convenience factor of a wearable device like TouchPoints: something that can be easily put on by the user and reduces stress without taking a significant "break" in the day.
"That's what people need now more than ever," she says. "Instant stress relief without adding another 'to-do' to an already packed schedule."
But others in the field of psychology have questions about the idea of a quick fix -- and understandably so. While my own scan showed evidence of decreased activity associated with stress, it was done so with the guidance of professionals who reminded me to unclench my jaw and try to relax once I had the TouchPoints on.
"I think it’s great that we are using our powers of technology to improve ways to treat mental health issues," says Dr. Laurie Paul, a psychologist in the Washington, DC area. "My main concern, though, is when the general public interprets things like this [e.g, brain scan results], they may misinterpret it because they haven’t had the proper training that a neuropsychology professional would have."
And while these concerns are valid, it doesn't completely negate the positive benefits of wearable devices like TouchPoints. It's possible that one might experience the best results with the guidance of an expert, or perhaps in tandem with other stress-reducing activities, like meditation or mindfulness practice.
The bottom line: To see founders and experts within the tech industry develop devices to encourage wellness is an overall positive development and one that my hamster-wheel-brain and I find encouraging. While the category of wearables is still in a fairly early stage, the emergence of products like TouchPoints from it is a positive sign that, as it evolves, solutions can continue to become more accurate and personalized.
But without further ado -- here's a closer look at the TouchPoints experience.
This article first appeared in Hubspot on February 14, 2019, by Amanda Zantal-Wiener. To read the full article, click here.
Forbes Names TouchPoints as Best Health Tech And Fitness Innovations At CES 2019
Your brain can turn on your stress switch in milliseconds - hundreds of times a day. And this fresh wearable company, says it can use technology to turn down the stress switch while you go about your day to restore calm, rational thinking, better performance. This tech comes in the form of non-invasive neuroscientific wearables called TouchPoints, which are based on a tech called BLAST. By doing so, they are said to relieve stress by over 70% in just 30 seconds. To prove its vibrating wearables actually worked, TouchPoint scanned my brain before and after using them. And as you can see from the data below, they managed to reduce the levels of stress (in red) on the right frontal lobe of my brain. But not for long; the CES show floor is pretty brutal..
Vogue - 5 Ways to De-Stress—And Stay Sane—During the Holidays
5 Ways to De-Stress—And Stay Sane—During the Holidays
Nothing says the holidays like braving maddening airport crowds, eschewing prying questions at big family gatherings, or looming end-of-year work deadlines. With the perpetual golden glow of twinkly lights and a flurry of parties filling your calendar, it may be the merriest of seasons, but, by the same token, it can—and probably will—send your stress level into overdrive.
The good news is that the breadth of offerings that take high cortisol levels to task has never been greater, allowing for a release in tension and a feeling of ease during this spirited season. From calming neuroscientific wearables to the latest CBD oil elixir, here are five new ways to get through the most wonderful—yet laughably fraught—time of the year.
The Good Vibrations
As the gold medal winner of the 2018 Edison Awards, which recognizes groundbreaking technology in wellness, this anxiety-minimizing gadget lives up to the recognition. Using a neuroscience technology called BLAST, which stands for bilateral alternating stimulation–tactile, the wearable device administers gentle micro- vibrations on either side of the body that have been shown to reduce stress by 70 percent in as little as 30 seconds. While designed to help manage everyday triggers, it may prove particularly fruitful during chaotic holiday travel—or if you’re getting the third degree at the Thanksgiving table.
The Round-the-Clock Adaptogens
ABC 15 Arizona - Helping migrant children living alone in US experiencing trauma from separation
Helping migrant children living alone in US experiencing trauma from separation
About Vicki Mayo and The TouchPoint Solution:
Vicki Mayo is CEO of The TouchPoint Solution, a Scottsdale, AZ-based wellness company that created TouchPoints- twin neuroscientific wearable devices that use patent-pending BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation tactile) technology to reduce stress by up to 70% in as few as 30 seconds Learn more about TouchPoints here &buy now.
Elevate AZ - Mothers of Invention
Three female entrepreneurs share their stories of hard-earned success
The saying “necessity is the mother of invention” is often credited to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s writings in “The Republic.” In the case of three Arizona women inventors, the proverb rings as true as ever in the modern world of business. Experiencing challenges in their own personal or professional lives led them to take the risky, often daunting, steps into entrepreneurship in order to bring their visions into reality—and share their inspirations with a wider audience.
Three and a half years ago, Tracy Miller was living in a tiny apartment in New York City. A fan of fresh juices and smoothies, she was also on a post-college budget—and frustrated when her healthy foods would go bad within a few hours.
“Like every other question in life, I turned to Google,” she says. “When I tried freezing them, some exploded in my little freezer, which was a bummer.”
Then a light bulb went off. Miller worked for the manufacturer of Rabbit wine accessories and asked one of the company engineers if wine preservation principles could be used for fruits and vegetables. After a year of making samples, the results were positive and she raised $36,000 on Kickstarter in 2016.
“I thought, wow, this is a marketable product and it’s not just friends and family telling me to go for it,” Miller says.
During the development process, Miller moved to Arizona and set up shop at the CO+HOOTS co-working space in Phoenix. “New York was very competitive, but this was a supportive community,” she says. “As a startup, it’s nice to have people who want to help with feedback and connections.”
The SANS product line uses a vacuum seal and pump mechanism to remove air and keep contents fresh. In addition to the original 16-ounce glass bottle, there’s a plastic version and 32-ounce carafes. This summer, SANS also introduced baby food savers.
Being featured in publications such as “O, The Oprah Magazine” and “New York Magazine” helped with brand awareness. This summer, the big break came when SANS struck a deal with Kroger, so you can now find their products in local Fry’s Food Stores.
“Rejection and quality control are the toughest part, but product development and innovating new cool products are the best,” says Miller, noting that she’s got more products in the pipeline that she’s eager to launch.
Dr. Amy Serin
The TouchPoint Solution
Arizona native Dr. Amy Serin has operated her Serin Center neuropsychology clinics for the past 11 years in Peoria, Scottsdale, and Tempe. Several years ago, she began consulting with elite military members on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevention.
“It got me thinking about not just putting an end to PTSD, but how to help people in general with their stress responses,” she says.
She believed a time-tested PTSD therapy could be adapted into a wearable technology for all kinds of users, and began working on the concept overseas at a research institution. When she returned to Arizona in 2015, her friend Vicki Mayo mentioned that her daughter was having night terrors, and Serin gave her some prototypes to reduce her daughter’s stress.
“It worked a miracle,” Mayo says. Since the research institution process was slow, Mayo suggested they bring the product to market themselves.
TouchPoints are digital wearable therapeutic devices worn on opposite sides of the body: on the wrists, in socks or pockets, or on tank top straps. They use gentle vibrations—similar to a cell phone buzz—to alter the body and brain’s natural stress response.
“The human stress response switches on based on sensory information,” Serin says. “The micro-vibrations, which we call BLAST technology, override the stress switch without your attention or awareness.”
Data from thousands of users has shown about a 70 percent reduction in stress levels within just 30 seconds of use. In addition to professionals such as therapists and doctors, TouchPoints have been used successfully by business executives, children with developmental disabilities, college students with testing anxiety, and athletes. Among several international honors, TouchPoint won an Edison Awards 2018 Gold Medal Wellness Technology.
“Ironically, using our own product helped us through the growing pains of a new tech startup,” Serin says. “But the most rewarding thing is hearing stories of how the technology has transformed other people’s lives.”
Being a first-time mother is tough enough, but delivering when you have the flu brings its own risks because of your shared immune systems.
“Basically, my daughter was born with a cold,” says Linda Foss. “The hospital sent us home with one of those little blue bulb syringes to help clear her airway, but there was no way to properly disinfect or clean it.”
Unable to find quality bulb syringes in stores, Foss returned to the hospital, only to be told that they don’t give out medical devices. On the Internet, she found countless other mothers who had experienced similar frustrations.
“I realized there was an opportunity when I couldn’t get my hands on one,” says Foss, who branded her first disposable product, the Original Hospital-Grade Baby Nasal Aspirator. “I also knew I was running on a short window of time, because medical suppliers hadn’t caught on to the home care angle.”
In 2011 and 2012, as suppliers began to cross into her market, she recognized her next step was to create an improved model: a durable, cleanable baby nasal aspirator. During prototyping and development, Foss had a stroke of good fortune when an industry veteran found her website and connected her with a medical manufacturer who could make the new product.
In 2014, the BoogieBulb was ready to launch. Its Amazon listing resulted in significant organic reach, and then an article in “The Wall Street Journal” article helped increase brand awareness. The first purchase orders could come in from Wal-Mart at any time, and BoogieBulb is under consideration by CVS, too.
“As entrepreneurs, we sometimes want to go from A to Z and forget all the steps in between,” Foss says. “I just trust the timing and the process, and the most rewarding aspect is knowing that my product is helping people.”
By Jake Poinier
Photography by Mark Lipczynski
*This article first appeared in Elevate AZ on October 2, 2018, by Jake Poinier. To read the full article, click here.
Closing The Gap - Introduce Peace Into Your Daily Life
Introduce Peace Into Your Daily Life
CALMING VIBRATIONS FOR STRESSFUL SITUATIONS
Learning how to deal with stress is important because, when untreated, it can be terrible for your physical and emotional health. Stress can directly affect your sleep, performance, mood, relationships and more.
Unfortunately, traditional methods of managing stress require a significant financial and time investment, so finding a way to regulate it while you go about your day represents a profound shift in the way we all can live more productive lives.
Consider TouchPoints your holistic health partner for body and mind. They use neuroscience and technology to directly affect the body’s biological mechanism for stress to deliver results in as few as 30 seconds.
WHAT ARE TOUCHPOINTS?
TouchPoints™ are twin neuroscientific wearables that provide fast relief from stress. They are worn on each side of the body preventatively or on-the-spot for 15 minutes before, during or after a stressful situation.
Using gentle, haptic micro vibrations called BLAST (bilateral alternating stimulation tactile), TouchPoints give the user a gentle vibration that affects the brain and alters the body’s fight, flight or freeze response to restore calm nervous system functioning.
This not only helps to reduce the amount of perceived stress experienced, but also the associated body sensation that comes with it (i.e. stomach butterflies or tightness in the chest).
Having the ability to think rationally without an associated body sensation helps the brain create new neural pathways that are net positive, and this has a lasting effect on your brain. Now the next time you think of that same stressful situation, it doesn’t feel so bad!
HOW DO TOUCHPOINTS WORK?
The patent-pending BLAST technology in TouchPoints is backed by decades of scientific and academic research on bilateral stimulation that shows significant reductions in beta activity in the brain with use.
Stress activates in milliseconds, turning on and off like a light switch hundreds of times a day.
When we’re stressed, our brain processes a complex set of risk factors. From body sensations to our internal thoughts to circumstances in our external environment, our brain makes a rapid decision about how to react to the perceived threat. The threat could be external (we see a snake on our hiking trail) or internal (we miss a deadline at work and fear losing our job). This triggers our stress response to turn on instantaneously, shooting our adrenaline and cortisol levels through the roof.
While this is a very good biological mechanism for survival, most of the time our lives are not at risk – this doesn’t stop the light switch from still turning on, even when it doesn’t need to.
This ruins lives and ultimately challenges the status quo of the way we perceive stress. There is a solution! Advances in neuroscience have shown us that using bilateral stimulation can actually turn the light switch off just as easily as we turn it on.
Neuroscience shows that using BLAST technology in TouchPoints can actually turn the stress switch off without you having to breathe, meditate, or stop what you are doing.
Data from thousands of TouchPoints users confirms significant stress relief along with a relief in disturbing body sensations in just 30 seconds. This groundbreaking research has been peer-reviewed, published, and dozens of global research projects are underway to examine the benefits of TouchPoints on cortisol levels, pain, focus, performance, attention, sleep, irritability, and quality of life.
TouchPoints offer a passive, non-invasive solution that may be more powerful than other methods in preventing nervous system hyperarousal in real-time. TouchPoints can be used in the classroom, at home, or during therapy sessions to help reduce sensory hyperarousal for improved outcomes in children with ASD.
Dr. Amy Serin – The Science of Autism
Dr. Amy Serin speaks on the science of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).