Remote Exercises for Learning Anger and Excitation Management (RELAX)

The Situation

therapySubstantial numbers of Veterans and Service Members suffer from debilitating conditions such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, and anger management disorders. Although the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs offer proven treatment options for these conditions, practical issues such as availability and transportation difficulties prevent many patients from taking full advantage of these options. Emerging technology, such as mobile devices and wearable sensors, has yet to be fully exploited to improve treatment for patients suffering from these types of mental health conditions.

The Charles River Analytics Solution

Scientists and software engineers at Charles River Analytics have created a mobile application to support improved anger management, based on current cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) interventions. We have completed both pilot and initial clinical trial CBT anger management treatment groups with Veterans using our prototype with initial data showing that patients of many different backgrounds perceive benefit from using the system in conjunction with treatment, and that anger and aggression is reduced through treatment enabled therapy.  Three screenshots are shown below.  The home screen (a) enables fast access to all the features. Patients can view and record their heart rate (b), using biofeedback to calm down after an anger episode. Anger reports (c) are saved for review and discussion during therapy sessions, enabling patients to have deeper insight into their anger and what works for them in terms of managing it better.

RELAX mobile appThe Benefit

Because of promising initial results, the mobile application is poised to have far reaching benefits in mental health care for service members, Veterans, and the general population in facilities such as Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and medical treatment facilities. In particular, it has the potential to help the management of post-deployment mental health issues and enable service members to return to their duty and daily lives. Anger management is a common mental health problem also faced by many in the general population, providing broad applicability for mobile application and sensors. Augmenting current treatments and tools with our components will enable patients to have more access to high quality care at lower cost.


This research is supported by the Department of Defense (DoD) U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command under Contract No.W81XWH-12-C-0067. Preliminary findings contained in this report are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as official positions of the U. S. Army, DoD, or the U.S. Government.

Principal Investigator, Dr. James Niehaus, has adhered to the policies regarding the protection of human subjects participating in clinical trials as prescribed by the Code of Federal Regulations.

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