Occupational health management (OHM) aims to improve working conditions in workplaces and personal resources of employees. In this way, the employment relationship can be optimized and remain health-promoting and -maintaining in the long term. This approach benefits companies and employees alike. We focus our research on supporting employees' resources by strengthening the autonomic nervous system with heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-BF).
HRV-BF is the name of a behavioral medicine method in which the regulation of heart activity is made consciously perceptible. This regulation is performed by the autonomic nervous system and normally occurs unconsciously. When using HRV-BF, it becomes perceptible through visual, acoustic or other feedback. The user can learn to specifically influence the physiological processes in the autonomic nervous system to achieve a higher degree of relaxation thanks to conscious perception.
We are primarily studying how HRV-BF can be used to strengthen the health forces (“resilience forces") of employees in everyday work situations. HRV-BF can be conducted using various methods, which we briefly introduce below.
In computer-assisted training, the pulse rate is recorded via an ear clip sensor connected to the PC. Special biofeedback software uses this to calculate heart rate variability (HRV) and guides the person exercising to breathe in the way that is optimal for him or her, which can lead to an improvement in HRV. The movements of a symbol, such as a balloon, provide feedback about the training success.
One example of a mobile HRV training device is a biofeedback ball. Placed in the hand, it measures the pulse of the fingers with an optical pulse sensor and then calculates heart rate variability (HRV). Light signals guide the exercising person to the optimal breathing for improving HRV. A red or green coloration of the ball provides feedback on the training success
In smartphone-based HRV biofeedback, the pulse rate is recorded using an ear clip sensor connected to the smartphone. The biofeedback software installed on the smartphone uses this to calculate heart rate variability (HRV) and guides the person exercising to the optimal breathing for increasing HRV. The training success is reported via various visual and acoustic signals.