The Apollo Neuro origin story: inspired by Veterans

Man's hands coming together with an Apollo wearable on his wrist

“We wouldn’t have been able to invent the Apollo wearable without the Veteran community. Working with Veterans and their families for years as a psychiatrist taught me how important it is to feel safe and in control at any moment, especially when trying to fall asleep. Techniques like meditation and breathing help, but they are really hard to do when we’re stressed and exhausted. Technology can now make relaxation and recovery easy wherever we are, and we couldn’t be more proud to bring Apollo Neuro into the world as the first wellness wearable to accomplish this for those who have dedicated their lives to protecting us and our country.” - Dr. Dave Rabin MD, PhD, Co-Founder and Chief Medical Officer 

The Apollo wearable, born from Dr. Dave Rabin MD, PhD's work with Veterans at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the VA, is the only scientifically-validated consumer wellness wearable technology to improve sleep and cardiovascular health — and it’s safe for adults and children alike. Worn on the wrist, ankle, arm, or as a clip attached to your clothing, the Apollo wearable uses touch therapy to deliver silent, soothing vibrations that help you feel safe and in control at any time. As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist, Dr. Dave worked with Veterans and quickly identified that they needed a tool to take home to access feelings of safety and agency outside of the comfort of the office. They needed a tool to help them sleep, focus, and take control over how they feel. 

As a psychiatrist and neuroscientist trained in ketamine and MDMA-assisted therapy, Dr. Dave has always been fascinated by consciousness and our inherent ability to heal ourselves from illness and injury. While working at the University of Pittsburgh studying treatment-resistant PTSD, TBI, and addiction disorders in Veterans and trauma victims, Dr. Dave attempted to answer one key question: What if there were other ways to foster feelings of safety to improve Veterans’ overall quality of life - quickly and reliably, without as much effort or assistance from others - by leveraging neuroscience and wearable technology? He began research and development in the lab at the University of Pittsburgh in 2014 to find a solution. And with that, the seed for the Apollo Neuro technology was planted. 

The Apollo wearable is currently being used by tens of thousands of people for relaxation and focus and has been shown in a recent study to give users back up to 30 more minutes of sleep each night, which is both deeper and more restorative. The wearable has also been studied in a pilot clinical trials in PTSD and traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients  who seek that sense of security and relief, with very promising results to date. Larger follow up trials are currently ongoing at the Denver VA and the University of South Carolina.

At the core of healing is the need to feel safe

While studying scientific research on touch, safety, and vibration frequencies, Dr. Dave mapped out the entire touch receptor system in the human body and found that there is a pathway from the skin directly to our emotional nervous system that is activated immediately to help us feel safe, without us having to do anything – this feeling of safety is the same feeling created by a hug or gentle caress from a loved one, a mother rocking a baby back to sleep, or cuddling with a furry friend. . This led to Dr. Dave to further study soothing touch to determine if we could reliably activate some of these same nerve pathways that promote recovery and healthy vagal (parasympathetic) tone using gentle vibrations delivered through a wearable device on the go. : The answer was yes – and Apollo Neuro was born! 

Apollo’s history supporting Veterans

Supporting Veterans is in our DNA at Apollo. Dr. Dave continues to treat Veterans and first responders in his clinical practice and serves as an advisor to a number of nonprofit organizations that support the health of Veterans, first responders, and active duty service members.  To do what we can to support those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, we have partnered with Semper Fi Odyssey, a nonprofit organization that helps injured and critically ill service men and women successfully re-enter civilian life as leaders in their communities. We work with Outdoor Odyssey to support children with a history of trauma. Dr. Rachel Yehuda, Endowed Professor of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Trauma at Mount Sinai and the Director of Mental Health at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center, is a recognized leader in the field of PTSD with over 500 published scientific articles, chapters, and books, and  a valuable member of our Apollo Neuro Scientific Advisory Board. 

Dr. Dave also serves on the board of Semper Fi Odyssey and provides Apollo as a tool for Veterans and active service members who struggle with PTSD and TBI to recover and become stronger leaders in their own lives. 

Major General T.S. Jones, the Executive Director of Semper Fi Odyssey, is an active user and proponent of Apollo, particularly for improved sleep. Access to quality sleep is a common issue that Veterans and active duty service members face. Major General T.S. Jones has found great relief from Apollo for sleep: “As I often have trouble getting back to sleep in the middle of the night after awakening, the ability to re-access the device for an extended period provides what I would categorize as an unparalleled capability.”

We worked with Ty Oswald, founder of BeArded WARRIORs, who actively uses the Apollo wearable and has encouraged other Veterans who struggle with PTSD to incorporate Apollo into their lives. As Ty puts it: “Mental health is an everybody issue. Everyone has to overcome something. There have been dozens of situations where I’ve been called by a Vet or a family member of a Vet, and being able to provide a resource like Apollo is game-changing.” We’re so proud to be able to support Ty and Veterans like him.

We also have an ongoing partnership with The Board of Medicine to support the USAF, first responders in police departments, as well as physicians, nurses, and other frontline healthcare workers.