Air Force Research Laboratory partners with Ohio State University athletes

Thursday December 8th, 2016

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We view athletes nowadays as individuals with “super-human talent.”

This generation of Division I athletes are physically gifted, powerful and mentally prepared like never before, and one of the U.S. military units is taking notice.

The Air Force Research Laboratory. 711th Human Performance Wing recently signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Ohio State University.

The Air Force’s special operations units in the Defense Department are home to the physically and mentally elite, much like the athletes on Ohio State’s campus.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base lacks the accessibility to these special operation personnel and must rely on unique, hands-on insight of human performance research.

This is where Ohio State comes into play.

Being on campus gives the Air Force the chance to continue their studies on college athletes due to their similar strength and mental capabilities, much like the special operations warfighters.

The Air Force will work directly with OSU neurologists and neuroresearchers, sharing the research and information gathered through the use of sensors that monitor stress and hydration levels.

“Can this provide a competitive edge over other people you might be competing with or, certainly, over our adversaries?” Dr. Scott Galster, chief of the Applied Neuroscience Branch at the Air Force Research Lab and one of the partnership’s leaders, told the Columbus Dispatch.

Football players and wrestlers have begun wearing these microchips which feed back information to the researchers.

According to an article on wvxu.com, there are three wearable devices that are being used on these athletes:

  1. Zebra– microchip tracking speed, distance and direction traveled in real time worn in games and practices.
  2. Zephyr– a wireless heart monitor worn in practice.
  3. Omegawave– tells whether athletes are in a recovered state, worn when the athletes are not practicing.

This is not just a partnership built for the Air Force. Ohio State is also reaping the benefits from the partnership.

Ohio State football coach, Urban Meyer, posted a caption on Instagram saying, “Ohio State is a very evaluation friendly program and that means if it’s not the very best, including hydration, nutrition, training, then we’re going to get the very best.”

The partnership is expected to last for at least the next four years, but researchers expect to start reporting results within the next three to six months.

“When you think about what the military does, what their soldiers do, there’s a real parallel” to elite athletes, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Columbus Dispatch.

Athletes at Ohio State push themselves to their limits every day, just like special operation units. Perhaps figuring out alterations in their training could improve performance, or for the military, save a life.

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