During a trauma, our bodies go into a state of sympathetic response, commonly known as fight-or- flight mode. For some people with post-traumatic stress disorder, this state of hypervigilance becomes the status quo, and symptoms such as irritability and an overactive startle response feel impossible to shake.
Blythe Karow ’02, co-founder and CEO of Evren Technologies, has developed a medical device to treat PTSD. The Phoenix is an earbud, worn for about an hour a day, that delivers an electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve, which carries signals to the brain. The stimulation, which Karow says feels like “a light tingle” and adjusts based on the user’s stress level, boosts the parasympathetic response to put the user in a more relaxed state.
“We’re providing personalized medicine within the Phoenix earbud,” says Karow.