In 2017, Technical Sergeant Caleb Pearson at Dyess Air Force Base (AFB) developed Pregnancy Rehabilitation & Reintegration Exercise Program (PRREP) to help US Air Force (USAF) mothers before, during and after pregnancy. The USAF engaged Pear Sports to digitise the program so it could be offered to all aviators, regardless of the location or schedules.
The USAF awarded Pear a contract through its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) programme to work with Dyess on this project.
The USAF has more than 200,000 women now on active duty. However, according to the Government Accountability Office, while its population is 20.9% female women have an attrition rate 28% higher than male service personnel.
One of the contributing factors was the requirement for all new mothers to pass the USAF physical fitness test within 12 months of childbirth.
Early tests have shown that personnel who completed the PRREP programme at Dyess AFB successfully passed their fitness assessment with a greater than 90% pass mark and without failures. Exact pass rates are not provided from the period before the programme, but the USAF says the personal fitness test failure rate is usually high.
The work Pear is performing will allow PRREP to scale across the AF and wider US Department of Defense to support women through pregnancy, childbirth, and post-partum.
Pear Sports vice president of programme development Anita Habeich tells Airforce Technology: “This way we can understand more about the physical readiness of the individual. In addition to the factors like what equipment they have available, what their goals are and what their job requirements are.”
The data is then fed into a model that helps personalise the programme.
“The method is based on Pear’s 25-year experience,” Habeich continues. “We acquired a New Zealand-based company called Performance Lab and we’ve taken the patented technology and applied it to the database of physical fitness information that we have.”
By collecting personal biometric information, the programme continuously learns from the user and implements new measures to the programme accordingly. Pear Sports calls this its Training Intelligence, or fitness wheel model.
The collaboration aims to make the programme available across the whole USAF via a digital platform. The partners hope to see aircrew mothers being able to harvest the benefits of the effort by early 2022.
Habeich says: “PRREP was able to provide the tools that helped aircrew to pass the test within the timeframe. So, the programme was a real success but limited to only those who were on base at Dyess.
“Dyess was looking to scale through digital means. So, they asked us to look at how the success they were having in the classroom could be used anywhere in a much more convenient way while success is replicated.”
By the end of 2021, Pear Sports will be compliant with by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that ensures the protection of collected private health data.
The Air Force Strategic Studies Group, a group that reports to the Chief Master Sergeant of the AF, has already shown an interest in the project, Habeich says.