Currently, students are trained using one of the simulators in the center that can mimic cardiac arrest, stroke and any number of maladies, but the one thing it can’t do is show facial expressions or move its appendages.
“The mannequins that we have have the same facial expression whether they have stubbed their toe or are having a heart attack,” said Jeff Fritz, department chairman Emergency Medical Services Professions.
One of difficulties in training has been to get students to recognize visual cues, and react accordingly, Fritz said.
With virtual reality you are submersed in an event.
A person who is learning to walk with a prosthetic leg can be walking on the beach with the use of augmented reality.
“It can be motivating,” he said.
Augmented reality allows the user to see reality with images superimposed on an object.
With a mannequin, two headsets and some software, two TC trustees — Dr. Alejandro Arroliga, chairman of the Baylor Scott & White clinic board of directors and chief of staff Scott & White Medical Center, and Dr. Andrejs Avots, the Elizabeth & Drayton McLane Jr. Chair in Health & Wellness,
vice president of Medical Affairs, Provider Engagement and Community Affairs — were seeing an individual in respiratory distress when facing the mannequin.
Others in the board room could see the same, while watching the monitors on the walls.
“What are you seeing?” Fritz asked. “Based upon the visual image what disease process would you describe?”
The individual has labored breathing, Arroliga said.
“He’s opening his mouth, he’s struggling,” he said. “The abdomen movement is not synchronized with the chest.”
Arroliga, a critical care pulmonologist, took the lead on the observations. However, Avots, a gastroenterologist, suggested, to everyone’s amusement, the virtual patient might need a colonoscopy.
“When you walk into a situation you can at least recognize from the door that this patient is in respiratory distress,” Fritz said.
“His eyes are focused,” Avots said.
The patient started pulling at his chest, his skin color changed slightly, Fritz said.
“These are some great tools to help students recognize visual cues,” he said.
TC was the first school in the country to get the product from MedCognition, Fritz said. The adult simulations are complete and within the next few months there will be simulations for infants and pregnant women.
The original package comes with the mannequin, lenses and programming. An additional lens was purchased to add students to the simulations, Fritz said.
The company, based in San Antonio, markets its products as an affordable medical simulation for pre-hospital providers.
As more cases are built the curriculum available at TC will increase.
The program was partially paid for with Perkins grants, a federal program that focuses on technical education. The initial purchase was $20,000 and an additional lens cost $3,500.