Central Florida Continues to Push Medical Simulation Innovations

advances in medical simulation

Terri Bernhardt wrote an article earlier this year for i4biz.com, which promotes entrepreneurship through Central Florida, covering the topic of Medical Simulation. The article is a great highlight of where simulation is, and where it is all going. Highly recommend this one!

Excerpt from i4biz.com:

“No commercial airline pilot or military aviator ever takes off in a multi-million dollar aircraft without logging countless hours in a flight simulator. Military and commercial aviation learned long ago it was not only much cheaper (one tenth the cost of live training), but it was far more effective to train personnel in lifelike scenarios where failure was an option. In fact, it was part of the learning experience.

The transition from simulating jets, tanks and helicopters to simulating patients in emergency or clinical situations faced by combat medics, nurses and doctors has been quickly evolving, in an industry that has called Central Florida its home for over 40 years.

This inventive group combines science, engineering and art to make fake blood that feels, smells and clots just like real blood. They turn a high-fidelity mannequin into a groaning, twisting man with congestive heart failure that is so realistic that the trainee sweats while trying to stabilize him. These same people develop serious games that take nurses through triage and combat medics through tying tourniquets in real time with life-like scenarios, followed by an after action review for effective memory retention.


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With all eyes on Lake Nona’s Medical City, breakthrough simulation technologies, medical research and medical training are able to converge. Harry Robinson is the national program manager of the Veterans Health Administration’s Simulation Learning Education and Research Network, “SimLEARN.” For the retired Navy aviator, the ability and potential of simulators to duplicate real life scenarios was obvious. “Just like when I was a squadron commander, we are able to replicate an actual situation, in this case a medical procedure or medical emergency situation, in a safe environment, where there is no danger or inconvenience to a human patient. Also, trainees are able to both develop the skills (in diagnosis and in muscle memory) and then have a meaningful debrief, where we actually watch the training exercise.

What’s Next?

Greg Welch, Ph.D., the Florida Hospital Endowed Chair in Health Care Simulation at UCF, has been working in the field in one form or another for decades, but his current work is taking medical simulation to a whole new level. Currently, medical personnel are sometimes trained using actors that emotionally and physically imitate the behavior of someone with a particular condition, but there are limits to what an actor can mimic. What is more, there are limits to the number of actors and frequency of times these scenarios can be simulated.

Welch is working not to simply duplicate the movements, the feel or the anatomical authenticity of a medical android, but its mental and emotional behavior. “Part of the diagnostic procedure is really an interrogation of sorts, to actually determine what symptoms the patient is experiencing.  To successfully do that you have to understand how to communicate with the patient and empathize with their condition; you have to learn what questions to ask, along with developing the patience that is necessary to succeed in that process.

“My area of expertise and my passion over the last 20 years has been about simulating human interactive experiences. This is a physical/virtual reality, which simulates human behavior with the goal of building a computer-controlled system that mimics human responses for medical or health care related training,” continued Welch. “To do that you have to study human interaction and transfer that knowledge to a patient/clinician experience that is lifelike and authentic. We want to simulate the fear, pain, discomfort of a patient and help the clinician learn to be comfortable interacting and doing what is sometimes awkward or socially inappropriate to do.”

Read the Full “Heart of Medical Simulation Article” on i4biz.com!


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