Virtual reality simulation developed to help prevent patient-drops

Mike Smizaski '17, a biomedical science major, demonstrates his work during an interprofessional event at the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences on our North Haven Campus.

Experiential learning

Mike Smizaski '17, a biomedical science major, demonstrates his work during an interprofessional event at the Center for Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences on our North Haven Campus.

A

team of Quinnipiac students and faculty have developed a virtual reality simulation that teaches patient-transfer techniques to future health care professionals. The program addresses both patient and health care providers: it aims to reduce the risk of dropping a patient during a transfer and reduce the risk of lower back injury among the health care provider lifting the patient.

“We were looking for a high-impact project that addressed actual problems,” said nursing professor Karen Myrick. “We found out that back injuries take the most nurses and physical therapists out of the workforce. The idea grew from there, and morphed into a major initiative.”

The simulation tracks a user’s movements through a virtual hospital setting that mimics the most common patient-transfer situations. It is customizable and offers users real-time feedback as to their posture and lifting technique. The simulation is also fully autonomous, enabling faculty to engage with students in other ways.

The project, made possible by The Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, required the collaborative expertise of students and faculty from 6 disciplines across the College of Arts and Sciences and Schools of Engineering, Health Sciences and Nursing: biomedical science, computer science, game design, industrial engineering, nursing and physical therapy.

“We’ve been doing something that has never been done before,” said physical therapy major Andrew Wolak ’18. “Prior to this, there has never been a quantifiable method of assessing patient transfer.”

As one of the health sciences students involved in the project, Wolak conducted extensive research to gather the angles for good and bad lifts. To test the right body angles, he and nursing student Gregory Guevara ‘18 tracked their own body movements through multiple patient-transfer trials. 

Joe Huberman '17 tries out the virtual reality technology.

Learning from his peers

Joe Huberman '17 tries out the virtual reality technology.

“We performed what we considered good, mediocre and bad patient-transfers,” Guevara said. “Our biggest challenge was figuring out what the acceptable movement range was for both taller and shorter people.”

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