Consider for a moment the story of a veteran who has returned home from a tour of duty in a combat zone in Iraq. The physical toll of war has long since worn off, but the traumatic events they witnessed or in which they participated have left mental scars that can never fully disappear. They visit mental health therapists specializing in post-traumatic stress disorder, but feel like they aren’t getting better. The anguish of reliving the experiences makes it difficult to perform the exercises their therapist has recommended, and the therapist has no clear sign of whether or not their patient is being forthcoming in each visit.
This is an imagined but common scenario for American veterans, who come home by the thousands with high rates of mental illness. Today, host Dr. Ayanna Howard is joined by Rosa Arriaga, a senior research scientist in the School of Interactive Computing, whose new grant from the National Science Foundation aims to take this challenge head-on.
What are the challenges to effective care of patients facing PTSD or other chronic illnesses? Can usable computational tools be the key to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of treatment? Why is it important that we in the computing community continue to think about how our technologies work for people in the real world?