AF partners with OSU for stress evaluation, recovery methods

  • Published
  • By Jaclyn Knapp
  • Air Force Technology Transfer Program
The Air Force Research Laboratory, 711th Human Performance Wing, has signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Ohio State University.

Special operations units in the Defense Department are physically and mentally elite due to the training they endure. Since special operations personnel are not readily accessible at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, unique hands-on insight was required for rapid acceleration of human performance monitoring research, technology and tools for the battlefield.

This collaboration will provide the 711th HPW access to immediate, continuous data so appropriate procedures can be developed using Division 1 college athletes that exhibit similar strength, power and mentality as special operations warfighters.

The collected information results in a daily report for measuring stress and recovery states and determining the future workloads and specific recovery modalities to help athletes and ultimately warfighters. The data collected for personalized recovery are based off of real-time exertion, daily readiness and heart rate variability technology.

“Ohio State is a very evaluation-friendly program,” said Urban Meyer, the OSU football head coach, via Instagram. “And that means if it’s not the very best – and that includes hydration, nutrition, training – then we’re going to get the very best. That goes for the full-time sports psychologist to the hydration, and nutrition working directly with the Air Force.”

The 711th HPW’s primary intent is to assist with personalized recovery of both uninjured athletes and warfighters like special operations that consistently train hard and are always prepared for a game or mission. OSU operates and maintains the technology and receives daily sports science reports and analytics from AFRL researchers. The 711th HPW will determine what data should be collected and which sensors should be used to assist the coaching staff with personalized recovery methods.

Due to OSU’s high quality athletic program and its close proximity to Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, the 711th HPW will act as the sports science staff to the NCAA athletes and coaches at OSU.

One technique adapted from the battlefield to OSU is flotation therapy, a very advanced form of both physical and mental recovery. In order to measure the effectiveness of this method and to fully capture the operational, objective data required for future testing of this technique, a flotation tank was installed at OSU.

“As a result of this agreement, the 711th HPW has access to all of the data collected and can directly transfer it into extremely useful analytics and reports for the coaches,” said Dr. Josh Hagen, the 711th HPW, signature tracking for optimized nutrition and training team lead. “In turn, we can learn and develop advanced sports science analytics and methodologies that are directly applied to the Department of Defense. That’s the goal of CRADAs: each side collaborates and brings something of value to the table.”

From a real-world perspective, understanding stress through HRV technology, and applying personalized recovery methods, has the potential to assist many individuals both on and off the battlefield with mental and physical recovery.

The Air Force Technology Transfer Program Office was created to link technology, the Air Force mission, and the commercial marketplace by ensuring that Air Force science and engineering activities are transferred or intentionally shared with state and local governments, academia and industry.