As technology continues to develop, we’re becoming more and more aware of what affects our health and how we can stay on top of our own well-being. Medical advances allow us to come back from serious illnesses, and knowledge of the human body helps us stay fit and strong as we age. Technology has always improved our physical and mental health, and the latest advances in medicine and consumer technologies continue to make life better for millions. Whether you’re facing a chronic medical issue or just want to become healthier, these 4 technological advances can help you improve your physical and mental health.
1. Mobile Apps
We’ve come a long way since the old ad “there’s an app for that,” but the phrase has never been more accurate. Medical and fitness mobile apps are constantly popping up for both iPhone and Android users, and they’ve been tailored to meet almost every need. There are diet tracking apps, fitness apps, workout apps, and even apps to help women track their menstrual cycle. As technology becomes even more sophisticated, health apps may one day be able to track health stats like cholesterol levels and heart rate.
Even today, health apps are helping to keep people healthy and out of the hospital. Apps promote healthy behaviors and engagement in overall health by keeping users accountable and able to see the results of their efforts over time. A recent study at the University of Kentucky Center for Rural Health on 10,000 uninsured patients showed that the cost of healthcare was reduced by 80%, hospitalizations were down 92%, and emergency room visits were down by 87% just by using communication and health apps.1 The vast majority of app users agree that their devices help them stay healthier—96% said the apps help to improve their lives.2
2. Wearable Trackers
Wearable trackers often work with mobile apps to track users’ activity levels and lifestyle, making it easy for users to report data—to themselves and to doctors. Wearables also allow users to customize goals3 and see historical data about their lifestyle. Most wearables also offer sleep tracking. Some of the most popular wearables brands include:
- Fitbit—The most well-known fitness wearable; different versions track steps, allow competition with friends, and keep users in sync with step goals.
- Garmin—Garmin offers different devices to suit individual needs, from basic activity trackers to high-tech smart watches.
- Runtastic—A health and fitness partner, some fitness watch options can even be worn in the water while tracking activity!
Getting to the doctor when you’re very sick, live in a rural area, or have an ongoing health issue can be difficult. Telehealth strives to solve many of these problems by offering patients services over live video, email, phone, and wireless tools. Instead of always having to come into the doctor’s office for a consultation, some services can be provided remotely, reducing travel time and healthcare costs. This benefits both healthcare professionals and patients alike. 75.2% of nurses agree that telemedicine makes their jobs easier, and only 16% of patients would go to the ER for minor issues if they could use telemedicine instead. 4 Of course, some diagnostics require in-person examination, but many issues can be resolved with a simple consultation. Telemedicine also make check-in appointments much simpler for everyone involved.
4. Fisher Wallace Stimulator
Mental illness affects overall quality of life in a significant way. People who suffer from problems like depression and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have trouble getting relief, with their options for treatment limited. Nearly 50% of people with PTSD are not receiving treatment, affecting their ability to deal with everyday activities and stressful situations.5
The Fisher Wallace Stimulator is a wearable headband that can be used to treat depression, and may be helpful with PTSD as well. The headband uses electric current to stimulate the brain, which can help improve symptoms of depression. For people who do not want to take medication for the condition, these treatments may be an option.
All of the tools we have available to us today are helping us to lead happier, healthier lives. A hundred years ago, we often had to guess about what would help increase our well-being. Today, technology can help motivate us, track our progress, diagnose, and treat health problems. This is only the beginning—technology gets smarter all the time, and will continue to help improve our physical and mental health.