Stress resilience.

Stress Resilience Training System (SRTS) is a self-contained, mobile training program presently available as an iPad application. Its design concept combines: (1) information about the physiology of stress and resilience; (2) engaging training in a set of evidence-based energy self-regulation techniques grounded in Heart Rate Variability (HRV) Coherence (HRVC); and (3) the use of HRVC biofeedback to control a series of progressively more challenging games that are designed to increase the utilization and sustainment of the resilience-building skills. The SRTS integrates with a specially-designed ear sensor which detects a user’s pulse, measures the basic heart rate, and uses HeartMath® algorithms to calculate a numerical HRV Coherence score.  A series of efficacy studies involving personnel from the Navy, Air Force, Army and law enforcement prove the system’s relevance in high-stress environments. There is also growing interest among athletes, first responders and caregivers who stand to benefit from the self-regulation of stress energy.

 

Education

Includes a series of narrated videos explaining the effects of stress and the science of Coherence

Biofeedback

Employs an ear sensor to detect pulse, measure heart rate, and compute HRV Coherence

Games

Contains HRV-controlled simulations that encourage practice of the biofeedback stress control techniques

snellen1.png

Review

Tracks progress throughout application, offering scenario-based self-tests on modules and visualizations of time-based performance measures

Problem

The stressful nature of work that law enforcement officials face is well established.  Police officers are confronted with psychological stressors ranging from those connected with the mission, to extended duty cycles as well as exposure to horrific scenes of death and injury. Common to both military and law enforcement officials, this type of stress can lead to anger-management issues, family relationship issues, and substance abuse.  

Solution

In May 2013, in an effort to assess the impact of SRTS on law enforcement personnel, 12 sworn officers and 2 dispatchers, (10 males, 4 females) from the San Diego Police Department received SRTS training, in addition to personal mentoring. Specifically, there was an initial 2-hour workshop training session at SDPD headquarters, introducing the overall program and its objectives, the neurophysiological basis of the self-regulation techniques taught in the app, applications of the tool to real-world situations, and the features and operation of the SRTS app itself. The officers then retained the SRTS app and iPads for a period of 6 weeks, after which the technology was collected and a post-trial Personal and Organizational Quality Assessment (POQA) was administered. For the first 4 weeks, 1 hour of telephone mentoring in the resilience-building skills was made available to each participant.

 

In addition to the POQA results, mentors’ reports of their observations, and records of participants’ comments from the mentoring sessions were considered. The POQA results were overwhelmingly positive: All four main scales showed improvement; Emotional Vitality improved by 25% (P=.05) and Physical Stress improved by 24% (P=.01). Eight of the nine subscales showed improvement, with the Stress subscale, perhaps the key measure of the study, improving by approximately 40% (P=.06). Participant responses were also uniformly positive and enthusiastic. Individual participants praised the program and related improvements in both on-the-job performance and personal and familial situations. The results support the efficacy of the program to achieve its goal of building stress resilience and improving officer wellness by providing practical self-regulation skills for better management of emotional energy.

 

Testimonials

"Last week I was in a situation in which a person squared off on me and started reaching in his jacket. I went to my breath and activated coherence, and never felt anything but calm. As I noticed the sirens of my backup arriving, I realized my heart was beating slowly. Every other time that has happened, I basically screamed for backup and it took me a whole day to calm down. When my Captain got there, he said he thought I was kidding when I put out the call because I sounded so calm on the radio. He asked what I’d been doing differently. This stuff is for real.

 

Officer participating in the 2013 SDPD Case Study

I noticed that once I understood how to apply the techniques, I realized that I was actually doing better in all parts of my life. I was able to be more present, I did not get involved or take personally the negative stuff from my co-workers, I found myself feeling more at ease and composed.

 

Active Air Force Duty Member following a controlled SRTS trial in 2013