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3 New Technologies that are Helping Veterans

Veterans day american flag image

Happy Veterans Day. To celebrate veterans, we’re taking a look at 3 new and growing technologies that are helping veterans. 3D printing, smart home technology, and artificial intelligence have all made technological strides in the past few years, with advancements and increasing accessibility. These three technologies are helping veterans succeed when they get back home.

1. 3D Printers and Increased Access to Prosthetics and Other Health Solutions

As 3D printers become more prevalent and less expensive, 3D printed prosthetics are becoming more accessible both in cost and in availability. In addition, as 3D printing technology advances, these prosthetics can be better tailored to each individual’s needs.

They’re also more advanced, with printers able to now print beyond plastic. 3-D printing can now be used to create synthetic skin. Scientists hope to someday print full human organs, reducing the need for human transplants and providing better opportunities for those currently in need of organ transplants. 3-D printed organs could also be less prone to rejection and infection.

2. Smart Home Technology and Improving Independence

The benefits of smart home technology extend beyond dimming the lights or starting up a smart speaker. For veterans, this technology can help with recovery and becoming more independent in their own homes. In fact, in 2017, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded 3 grants to groups building smart home technologies for veterans. They included assistive technology, a robotic over bed table so those in bed could access mobile devices, and Internet of Things-enabled home safety equipment to make assistance accessible no matter where vets are in their homes.

Beyond the everyday smart speakers and lights, however, veterans are finding benefits from items like smart closets, which can help them access hard-to-reach storage areas, even from a wheelchair or window blinds and treatments that work at the touch of a button. The Gary Sinise Foundation, through its program R.I.S.E helps veterans by providing these smart homes, which can help with mobility and independence.

3. Artificial Intelligence and PTSD Recovery

There are now several technologies that can help vets report and receive help for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to improve the experience of PTSD sufferers in many different ways. In addition, reports that 50% of hospitals plan to adopt AI practices within the next 5 years.  

The reason for this increase is because AI is helping veterans and others report, diagnose symptoms of, and receive personalized treatment for PTSD and other disorders. On example is Ellie, an artificial intelligence “therapist” created by the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies. Veterans can interact with Ellie in anonymous online sessions and receive the resources they need immediately. The technology tracks not only the answers that veterans give, but also visual cues and voice patterns to determine signs of stress.

Other Artificial Intelligence technologies such as IBM Watson Health, in partnership with the digital health company Tiatros inc, sought to improve the cognitive and behavioral therapy processes for PTSD. These companies used AI and analytics to treat post-traumatic stress and helped increase the therapy completion rate for participating veterans to 73%.

The program fosters a connection between veterans by providing a secure social network. However, it also uses artificial intelligence to craft a customized therapy plan for each patient. Each subject submits 3 narratives each week, which are then analyzed by Watson Personality Insights and Tone Analyzer API’s. These insights are then used to create a cognitive behavioral therapy plan based on evidence and catered to that subject. The program has seen success in helping veterans complete the program.

As technology advances, so do the benefits it can provide. We salute those who are already working to make technology work for the Nation’s veterans, and we hope that this coming year has even greater advancements.

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