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7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Annual Assembly of the German and the Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

Austrian Society of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

26.-29.10.2011, Salzburg, Austria

Biofeedback-assisted mental techniques in elementary school – a pilot project

Meeting Abstract

  • corresponding author presenting/speaker Richard Crevenna - Department of PMR, Medical University of Vienna, Austria
  • Christine Krammer - Institut für Leistungsmanagement, Vienna, Austria
  • Alexander Antonitsch - Institut für Leistungsmanagement, Vienna, Austria
  • Tanya Sedghi Komanadj - Department of PMR, KH Hietzing, Vienna, Austria
  • Mohammad Keilani - Department of PMR, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

7th EFSMA – European Congress of Sports Medicine, 3rd Central European Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Salzburg, 26.-29.10.2011. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2011. Doc11esm153

doi: 10.3205/11esm153, urn:nbn:de:0183-11esm1535

Published: October 24, 2011

© 2011 Crevenna et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( You are free: to Share – to copy, distribute and transmit the work, provided the original author and source are credited.



Objective: Biofeedback (BFB) is known to be an effective method with the power to enhance self-competence. Mental training and techniques, such as relaxation and breathing exercises are known to help individuals to improve mental, cognitive, and physiological functions. Aim of the present pilot study was to investigate if BFB-assisted mental training with the intention to improve psychological (cognitive) and physiological functions (muscular tension) could be a feasible and well-accepted tool in elementary schools.

Material/Methods: To answer this question a pilot study in a 4th class of an elementary school (Mannswörth, Lower Austria) was conducted after approval of the ethics committee of the Medical University of Vienna. After written informed consent of their parents, 15 (of 17) pupils gave informed consent to participate.

Intervention: the participants were instructed in simple relaxation techniques by using biofeedback to facilitate their learning process (BFB-assisted mental training). These techniques included progressive muscular relaxation, breathing and pulse control techniques.

Assessment was performed before intervention (t1), after a time period of six weeks with active mental training and with regular, daily instructions by the teacher (t2), and after a further time period of six weeks where no further instructions were given (t3).

To investigate attention and concentration, the so called Aufmerksamkeits- und Konzentrationstest d2-R (Brickenkamp) and the so called Zahlenverbindungstest ZVT were used. To investigate stress management the so called Stressverarbeitungsbogen SVF-KJ (Janke, Erdmann) in the form for use in children (Hampel, Petermann, Dickow) was used. Muscular tension of trapezius muscle was observed by using surface electromyography (BFB-System Xpert 2000©, Schuhfried Mödling).

Results: Although this study population started from better baseline-levels than the published (peer-)group-values, positive effects of the intervention have been observed:

d2-R: significant improvements from baseline/t1 to t2, and also from t2 to t3, indicating very stable effects of the intervention.

ZVT: significant improvement from baseline/t1 to t2, no significant differences between t2 and t3, indicating a ceiling effect.

SVF-KJ: did not significantly change over time.

Accompanying surface electromyography documented positive effects of mental techniques on muscular tension of trapezius muscle.

All pupils stated that the Biofeedback-system had helped them to learn of the mental techniques. Furthermore, they reported to have performed mental techniques with pleasure, and to have had benefit of having a tool in stressing situations like tests in school or like sporty competitions. Their teacher reported the BFB-assisted mental techniques to be easily to perform within the regular school plan. She also reported to have learnt a lot about their pupil’s-and her own-stress management. Furthermore, she would suggest that other elementary schools also should integrate relaxation techniques into their repertoire.

Conclusion: Feasibility and acceptance of BFB-assisted mental techniques within an elementary school concept have been proven with help of this pilot study. The results of this study population indicate beneficial effects of BFB-assisted mental techniques in elementary school pupils. Nevertheless, further studies with higher sample sizes (maybe after roll-out of the study concept) should be performed to confirm these results.