PEORIA – Paradise Valley neuropsychologist Dr. Amy Serin believes she’s found a new way to help people deal with stress and anxiety.
Serin created a small device named Buzzies that you can wear on your wrists or in your pockets. Buzzies send signals to the brain that help change the way information is processed, she said.
She uses something called bilateral alternating stimulation delivered tactile treatment, otherwise known as BLAST.
“This is a technology that has been used in certain types of treatments in the last few decades,” she said. “What I did that was new was improve some of the technology, the waveform, the delivery method to give access to people outside of doctor’s offices.”
BLAST inhibits stress responses and enhances memory recognition. This treatment is especially helpful for people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, stress and anxiety and sleeping disorders, she said.
“Our ultimate goal with Buzzies is to change group dynamics and create global change,” Serin said. “When people are self-regulating, when people aren’t stressed out, they perform better. They make better decisions. They sleep better. Their overall health is better.”
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health illness in the U.S. According the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly 18 percent of the population is affected.
Peoria residents Jennifer Childress and her two daughters Caitlin, 10, and Cora, 8, have been searching for a solution to help ease daily stresses.
“The biggest challenge that both my daughters face is anxiety,” Childress said.
The family has tried treatments such as neurofeedback and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy, but they said Buzzies have made an improvement in their daily life.
“The (other) therapies help, but there’s always the day-to-day crisis moments where you need that help,” Childress said.
The product has only been on the market since December, and it does have its skeptics.
On Reddit, a popular message board, one user asked whether anybody had used the device. Other users voiced concerns: “Looking at their website, it looks like a load of snake oil. There are some papers on the site, but they don’t appear to be published by any peer reviewed journal.”
Melissa DiGianfilippo, a spokeswoman for the company, said it is pursuing peer review, but it takes about two years. She added that the company has collaborated with universities to conduct more research.
The product does appear to have early support. Its Kickstarter campaign had a goal of $15,000, but it has raised more than $76,000.
Buzzies cost $239 on the website thetouchpointsolution.com. More than 2,000 units have been sold.