Robotic Baby Simulates Real-Life Medical
Emergencies for Nursing Students
By Ronald Roach
It coughs, grunts, cries, snores and responds to being touched. It wears a diaper and its mouth turns blue when it is experiencing trouble. It’s “SimBaby,” the latest birth and hands-on learning tool being used by neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) students at Case Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing. The school recently received one of the first SimBaby simulators in the United States.
SimBaby is a $28,000, high-tech robotic simulator that also breathes, has a pulse and maintains heart rhythm and blood pressure. It can be programmed to simulate a range of illnesses and medical emergencies, including cardiac arrest and breathing difficulties. Students are informed of SimBaby’s “symptoms” and must perform the appropriate assessments and treatments. The baby’s condition improves or deteriorates depending on the student’s intervention.
“Simulation training is rapidly advancing as an important component of nursing and medical education,” says Dr. Donna Dowling, an assistant professor of nursing at CWRU and expert in neonatal nursing practices. “Our goal is to provide students the opportunity to simulate an emergency, analyze the situation and think critically in forming and implementing a plan of case management.”
Graduates of the NNP program have the knowledge and skills to assess, evaluate and intervene appropriately to manage the care of critically ill neonates, Dowling says. SimBaby can simulate a wide range of spontaneous breathing patterns, and the instructor can modify both the lung capacity and airway resistance. The cutting-edge simulator is also being used by Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif., the only community college in the nation to incorporate SimBaby into its nursing program.
SimBaby is made by Laerdahl Medical Corp., based in Wappingers Fall, N.Y.
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