Medical training simulation must apply the same sort of standards that exist for aerospace simulators, according to Derek Gould, Royal Liverpool University Hospital, UK.
Speaking at the European Vascular Course, held in Maastricht, The Netherlands, today, Gould described the ImaGiNe-S project, which is attempting to build a virtual reality simulator based upon content validated by an expert peer group.
“If content of the simulation is validated,” said Gould, “then that simulation can be used to train and assess skills. An operator can then learn and make mistakes in the simulation, remote from the patient and in complete safety.”
Gould described how the expert panel helped to develop the project. The initial incarnation of the project, then known as BIG NEPSI, underwent a content validation study. The panel of subject experts was happy with the forces felt by the operator in the initial incarnation of Gould’s simulator, but felt there was a lack of realism in the dislocation of the user’s hands from the virtual environment on the 2D screen.
“Therefore,” said Gould, “we re-engineered this simulation, which is now called ImaGiNe-S, to reach into the virtual environment.” To use the new version of the simulator, the user wears glasses which superimpose a 3D virtual reality over the real-world, so that the user can see their own hands whilst undertaking simulated procedures.
“However, we still need patients for the content that’s missing,” Gould told delegates. “At the moment, we are not at the point in medical simulation, as we are in aviation simulation, that we can walk out of a 747 trainer and get into the plane and fly.
“In the future, this will, I’m sure, become possible. We will be able to train skills to the level of proficiency to perform operations on patients. We will be able to rehearse a procedure before performing that same procedure on a patient.”
Ultimately, Gould added, simulators will be able to test medical devices in virtual environments to see how they will behave.