Medical study to test the effectiveness of VR in pediatric EMS

Julia Edinger
Government technology

GAITHERSBURG, MD – A medical innovation firm recently launched a study funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to assess the effectiveness of virtual reality (VR) in training EMS staff , specifically in the assessment of pediatric emergencies.

According to Dr. Brian Gillett, president of Health Scholars, the study will address traditional EMS training to voice-based VR interface training data through September.

Virtual reality technology is used in a variety of fields, and researchers hope to continue their progress in pediatric paramedicine.

Virtual reality technology is used in a variety of fields, and researchers hope to continue their progress in pediatric paramedicine. (Photo / National Institute of Standards and Technology)

“The main outcome is to measure the value of RV in terms of better paramedic and EMT readiness to identify signs of serious illness in infants and children,” Gillett said. “We will identify performance gains among those who have actually had virtual reality training [compared] to those who had traditional training “.

The result you expect to see from the study is that there will be a significant improvement in students ’competence with the use of virtual reality.

Data has already been collected from the Arvada Fire Protection District (AFPD), the Los Pinos Fire Protection District and the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District (UPRFPD), in Colorado, and Plano Fire-Rescue, Texas, recently entered the studio.

Other EMS agencies have had positive results in using VR training for mass casualty events. Police departments are also implementing similar technology.

This RV app teaches respondents the Pediatric Assessment Triangle (PAT), which is a method for identifying serious diseases based on appearance, breathing, and circulation.

Gillett explained that the funding came from NIST after Health Scholars applied for a development grant to understand the value of different user interfaces for EMS training in the VR space. The study included first aid acting as health care providers through the modality of a voice-based virtual reality interface.

Gillett said it can be difficult for responders to identify diseases in the pediatric space because children between the ages of children and three present symptoms more subtly than adults.

Christina Ingwalson, head of marketing for Health Scholars, delved into the look of the scenarios. Respondents wear Oculus headphones and are seen at home, presented with young children or babies of different ethnicities. Respondents then have the task of evaluating patients based on the PAT method.

An avatar will then explain what was right and wrong in the participant’s diagnosis and demonstrate the appropriate priorities for treating that child, Gillett explained. After completing the training, respondents will have an experiential reference for identifying and managing a child’s symptoms, albeit in a virtual environment. A graphical report on the back of the software informs them of possible areas for improvement.

Data were collected from several different groups, as explained by Arvada Fire Protection District EMS Captain Robert Putfark, either at an individual station or at a central location such as a headquarters. One subgroup of participants was sought at each site and the other subgroup not.

Prior to the implementation of VR technology, training for such scenarios was primarily conference-based or computer-based, Putfark said. His department, for example, would integrate computer-based exercises using videos of children drawn from the American Heart Association for diagnostic training. However, these workouts were not as interactive as the virtual reality scenarios.

For rural districts, such as the Upper Pine River Fire Protection District, the VR component may be the only opportunity to interact with a sick child, as explained by the district’s EMS education coordinator, Joel Claus. He noted that six hours from Denver, first-time attendees can rarely interact directly with a symptomatic child in a clinical setting.

According to Claus, his department’s comments on the technology have been positive.

While some of the less experienced users in technology have required some operational training on virtual reality, there were few challenges in using it. One of the limitations that Claus pointed out is that training is run over the Internet and there is currently no option to save progress. For stations without a stable Internet connection, this could make it difficult to complete the training.

Putfark noted that while his team’s scores were initially low with the learning curve with respect to VR technology, he plans to continually train his team with the technology and re-compare scores in the future.

Although the data analysis will not be done until the study is completed, Gillett noted that there are already some trends.

“And there’s an initial trend that shows significant scores and improved competition after an RV experience,” Gillett said. “Ultimately, though, we’ll have to conclude the study to get the actual data, but here we already see an early trend.”

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