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New study investigates the efficacy of mobile apps for managing chronic pain and PTSD

Mobile app

Mark Grant, an Australian psychologist, today announced the launch of a research project to investigate whether smartphone apps can help manage the symptoms of chronic pain and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

According to a recent report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, chronic pain affects 20% of Australians aged 45 and over. The problem is notoriously difficult to treat, perhaps because roughly half of chronic pain sufferers also have PTSD.

PTSD in chronic pain sufferers often goes unrecognised, due to other problems like depression, insomnia, and addiction. Trauma researchers have also discovered that PTSD has a greater impact on physical health than any other mental illness.

The result is a mismatch between treatment and diagnosis that leaves the contribution of traumatic stress unaddressed.

The apps created by Mark focus on four key areas related to chronic pain and PTSD – anxiety, medically unexplained pain, insomnia, and decreased self-confidence.

Anxiety Release App:               Targets anxiety associated with PTSD

Overcoming Pain App:             Targets pain/medically unexplained symptoms associated with PTSD

Sleep Restore App:                   Addresses insomnia associated with PTSD

Calm and Confident App:        Addresses the impact of trauma and PTSD on identity

The apps are based on EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing), a trauma therapy that targets Neuroplastic changes in the brain that maintain trauma and pain (eg; focused attention and bilateral stimulation).

These apps offer chronic pain sufferers with trauma an important adjunct to traditional care.

The apps are designed to be used together, depending on the immediate needs of the user. For many PTSD survivors, pain is the top priority. For others, it might be managing anxiety. Needs can fluctuate on a daily or hourly basis, so the four apps give sufferers a range of options.

To assess the efficacy of these apps, Mark is inviting individuals with a past diagnosis, or current symptoms of PTSD, to participate in a nine-month study.

The study is limited to 200 participants, and successful applicants will receive the four apps at no cost, to be used daily for the nine-month period. Participants may keep the apps following completion of the study.

Participants will be required to complete two short questionnaires before, during, and after the study. These should take less than 10 minutes to complete. Participants who complete the study will enter a draw to win one of three $100 shopping vouchers.

“These apps employ strategies that appeal to sensory-emotional aspects of brain function and learning,” said Mark. “This approach is faster and more intuitive than traditional methods. In 2014, my Anxiety Release app led to the first published account of an app being used to completely resolve chronic pain in a carpal tunnel syndrome sufferer.”

Mark’s study has received ethics approval from RMH HREC. Participation is voluntary and participants may withdraw at any time. To enrol, applicants should visit Mark’s website at

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