UW’s CREST Utilizes DOD Grant to Build Modular Manikin Simulator
Looks like there is a new manikin on the horizon from the team at CREST! The Daily UW recently reported about the manikin’s development, which while initially seems to have combat medics in mind, will also have lasting civilian opportunities with the industries first “open source” programming interface.
Named after Frankenstein, the roughly 6-foot manikin is part of an ambitious project by the UW Center for Research in Education and Simulation Technologies (CREST) to create an intelligent, customizable model patient that can fit the needs of any medical scenario. The finished manikin will have interchangeable limbs, an internal computer system, and a network of sensors that monitor how a simulation is progressing in real time. “[Frank] is kind of the logical conclusion,” said CREST director David Hananel. “We’ve been trying to develop these high-tech medical simulators for 25 years, but we haven’t made a lot of progress. It’s really the last three to four years where it’s starting to take off.”
The team won a competitive grant from the Department of Defense (DOD) last September as part of the Advanced Modular Manikin project, securing $7.7 million over the next three years to further develop Frank into a multipurpose training tool. They plan to equip Frank with realistic features like warm skin, a wet tongue, a working system of fluid-filled veins, and a network of sensors that relay information back to the computer core in real time.
Much of the DOD’s interest in medical simulation stems from its goal to improve training procedures for combat medics, but the CREST grant specifies that the manikin platform should have both military and civilian applications. This technology could also allow the U.S. military to end its current practice of using live animals, such as pigs and goats, to train combat medics on invasive procedures.
The U.S. military uses over 8,500 live animals every year for training purposes, according to a house bill filed in February. The DOD wants to move away from animal models but is hesitant to do so until researchers have demonstrated that medical simulations are equally effective training tools, according to Speich. As part of the DOD’s grant, the final manikin platform will be open source, meaning the software and design information will be available for free. While it’s unusual for the DOD to be this transparent with its research, Hananel said that they see the benefits of many companies collaborating on a common platform. “For too long simulation has been silos where everyone is pretty protective of their technology,” Speich said. “The way we’re approaching this from the start is letting everyone know that what we’re creating will be shared with everyone. It’s been a long time coming.”
I’m sure we will see Frank at a SimGHOSTS healthcare simulation technology conference in the near future!