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Can a Wearable Help Heal Trauma? This Psychiatrist Says Yes

Dr. Dave Rabin says that MDMA-assisted therapy is the single closest thing to a cure for mental illness we’ve had in the history of psychiatry, allowing patients to tap into a feeling of safety that is required to heal. His new wearable technology can get you into a similar state—without the drugs, folks.   

Rabin, who is a neuroscientist, psychiatrist, and expert in psychedelics, spoke with Robb Report’s deputy editor Josh Condon at House of Robb during Austin’s South by Southwest about how Apollo Neuro’s wristband can help heal trauma

The device is different from second-generation wearables—your Oura ring, Fitbit, Apple watch, etc.—in that it doesn’t just provide you with a tsunami of data but a way to calm your body. The device, which Rabin says is the first third-generation wearable, delivers different types of vibrations to help us in different situations. (Higher vibrations improve your energy and focus, while lower vibrations reduce stress and help you relax or fall asleep.) By emulating the sensation of touch, which is a remarkably effective healing modality in and of itself, Apollo can replicate some of the effects of MDMA. 

Rabin says the way that MDMA works is actually pretty simple—though perhaps less simple for those of us who don’t, you know, hold multiple doctorates. “The drug actually molecularly activates the safety cascades that tell the amygdala ‘Hey, bro, I’m safe enough that you can just chill right now,’ all of a sudden resources get diverted back to our recovery response, safety nervous system, and the vagal parasympathetic system.” Feeling safe means that we can start resolving trauma memories and treating mental illness. “MDMA is catalyzing or celebrating the safety experience of therapy,” as Rabin puts it. “It’s a therapy catalyst.” 

The results speak for themselves. A 2021 trial showed that just three doses of MDMA, with 42 hours of psychotherapy over 12 weeks, induces an 88 percent response rate in people with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder. Of that, 52 percent have symptom remission achieved in two months, meaning they’re no longer meeting diagnostic criteria for the disorder that they experienced for an average of 17.6 years. What’s even more remarkable: in one year, that 52 percent goes up to 67 percent with no additional treatment. Pretty astonishing considering that currently over 70 percent of the people in the U.S. diagnosed with PTSD never actually get better, even with the best treatments. 

There is anecdotal evidence, too. During another panel at House of Robb, U.S. Marine Corps veteran, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and founder of GoDaddy Bob Parsons told Robb Report editor-in-chief Paul Croughton that psychedelics changed his life. “I like to say when I was treated with psychedelics, it was 49 years since the [Vietnam] war, and I finally came home,” he said. 

The kicker is that psychedelic-assisted therapy isn’t accessible to all—at this stage, anyway. (Rabin thinks the FDA will approve an integration to clinical practice at some point this year.) It can be a relatively lengthy and pricey process, and it’s probably not on offer via your local GP. Fortunately, through his comprehensive research, Rabin found an alternative. “We figured out, you don’t need MDMA,” he explains. “Touch is the fastest, most rapid pathway to safety.” 

The fact that Apollo can mimic human touch means that we can get that feeling of safety instantly, whenever we want or need it. You can even try it now: iPhone users can download the Apollo Neuro app from the App Store and get a demo experience. (Android isn’t compatible just yet.) 

“I highly recommend it, it will upgrade your phone forever,” Rabin adds. “I can guarantee you never felt your phone soothe you like this before with vibration.”

Alternatively, you can buy the Apollo wristband for $350. 

Authors

  • Rachel Cormack

    Digital Editor

    Rachel Cormack is a digital editor at Robb Report. She cut her teeth writing for HuffPost, Concrete Playground, and several other online publications in Australia, before moving to New York at the…

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