Drs. Siu O'Young and Vernon
Curran inspect one of the mannequins that will be implanted with
electronics to assist in teaching neonatal resuscitation. (L-R)
Xiaoqian Kong, Alain O'Dea, Dr. O'Young, Rose Wilson, and Dr.
Susen Johnson and Sharon Gray
First it was a doll that could crawl, then one that would cry,
and, inevitably, a doll that could wet itself.
Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science is working towards
even more lifelike specimens dolls that mimic sick newborns
and their responses to resuscitation.
This is the
Anakin Project Memorial University's attempt to make it
easier for health professionals in remote locations to update
their skills in neonatal resuscitation methods through mechatronics
the science of integrating electronic devices into mechanical
the child protagonist of the Star Wars saga, Anakin is a group
effort of Engineering, the Faculty of Medicine, and the Janeway
Children's Health and Rehabilitation Centre to develop computer
software instrumentation packages that will render neonatal mannequins
more lifelike and improve their utility for distance education.
professor Dr. Siu O'Young explained, the idea is that health
care professionals who typically travel to regional centres like
St. John's to participate in neonatal resuscitation courses would,
instead, access a mannequin at a local health site. Then, utilizing
a combination of the Internet and videoconferencing, these trainees
would update their skills at a distance.
they have to come to St John's and go through a set of maneuvers
depending on different simulated conditions," Dr. O'Young
said. "The newborn might not breathing on its own due to
meconium in the airway, or because they're extremely undersized.
The healthcare provider must be able to react to these different
scenarios, by properly evaluating the baby's condition and performing
the proper steps of resuscitation. Clearly the health care provider
has only minutes following the birth of a child before irreparable
damage may occur."
Dr. Khalid Aziz of the Faculty of Medicine explained that the
doll will mimic the signs of a sick baby and then respond positively
to appropriate resuscitative efforts. "We don't certify
people in resuscitation," he said, "but we register
them as having attended and completed an educational course or
update using a simulation."
Dr. Aziz said this project will assist neonatal resuscitation
instructors in the province to maintain their skill levels, and,
by extension, provide skill updating to the healthcare providers
they serve. "In centres with only 100 deliveries per year,
less than 10 infants might require resuscitation," Dr. Aziz
said. "So that means the nurses and physicians who attend
deliveries may only use their skills once a year. The Anakin
Project will provide these people with a level of self-efficacy."
On the engineering
side, the INCA Centre is developing a package of computerized
sensors, actuators, and microcontrollers to render the mannequins
more lifelike. The mannequin will display vital signs corresponding
to a predefined scenario set by the instructor via the Internet.
In addition, it will respond appropriately to the trainee's attempts
an ordinary computer in the trainee's work setting, the mannequins
will send data to a St. John's-based puppeteer' about how
the resuscitation is proceeding. If the proper steps of resuscitation
(including providing warmth, clearing the airway, supporting
breathing through ventilation, and supporting circulation with
chest compressions) are performed in a timely manner, the mannequin
will display the vital signs of a healthy newborn.
simulators will appear to have lungs which rise and fall, stomachs
that distend, and bodies that turn from blue to pink. They will
also provide a heart beat and make crying or choking noises.
A randomized controlled trial is planned for this autumn to compare
skill retention using the new, instrumented mannequin versus
a training videotape.
of the program include the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial
Perinatal Program, the Janeway Children's Health and Rehabilitation
Centre, the Janeway Foundation, the Newfoundland and Labrador
Centre for Applied Health Research, the Heart and Stroke Foundation
of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Cahill Instrumentation.