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Emergency responders score game-changing skills with pediatric virtual reality modules

February 1, 2021

With a wireless headset and internet connection (inset), first responders are transported into a virtual reality scenario where they can learn critical pediatric diagnostic skills in a zero-risk environment.

Just 10% of calls to emergency medical services (EMS) involve pediatric patients, and most EMS professionals encounter one rare pediatric case in their career. Therefore, innovative methods are needed to teach first responders pediatric assessment skills so they are prepared for situations they seldom encounter.

A new partnership between Health Scholars and the AAP is bringing virtual reality (VR) simulation training to first responders and clinicians, so they can learn and retain pediatric emergency assessment and resuscitation skills in an interactive format. Learners use voice commands to control the application, interact with and direct virtual team members to carry out commands. They receive feedback and practice skills until they attain mastery.

“The new virtual reality applications with Health Scholars promote frequent hands-on skills practice that will decrease the potential for skills decay and ultimately improve the probability of a successful patient outcome,” said Kajal Khanna, M.D., J.D., FAAP, who was involved with content and technical review of the VR applications. “By participating in this innovative learning activity, EMS professionals can interact and receive feedback about their medical management within a simulated and realistic environment that is safe and incorporates the element of game, a concept which is a pedagogical shift from the traditional delivery of educational offerings from the AAP.”

The VR training can complement the new AAP Pediatric Education for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP) Provider Manual, 4th Edition. The VR applications incorporate principles of the Pediatric Assessment Triangle (assessment, work of breathing and circulation to skin), a cornerstone of the PEPP curriculum.

The 2020 American Heart Association Guidelines for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care recommends virtual reality to enhance resuscitation training. Frequent, brief training sessions help learners understand mistakes and sharpen diagnostic skills in a zero-risk environment.

The new pediatric VR applications use adaptive learning technology based on the individual’s performance. Learners are assessed on core competencies throughout the simulation and receive a readiness score. Assessment data also can be analyzed on a team or organization level.

The Pediatric Emergency Assessment VR application features numerous vignettes that focus on critical pediatric assessment and stabilization. Content is included on abnormal work of breathing, abnormal circulation to skin, abnormal appearance, normal and abnormal vitals by age, respiratory distress, respiratory failure, cardiopulmonary failure, compensated shock, decompensated shock, central nervous system/metabolic disorders and stable patient.

The Pediatric Emergency CareVR application, scheduled for release this year, complements the evaluation and identification scenarios from the assessment application with advanced resuscitation exercises and instruction. The application features 11 assessment scenarios plus three heart-rate quiz scenarios.

Topics include abnormal work of breathing, abnormal circulation to skin, abnormal appearance, respiratory distress, respiratory failure, cardiopulmonary failure, compensated shock, decompensated shock, central nervous system/metabolic disorders, stable patient, opioid overdose, hypoglycemia, asthma, supraventricular tachycardia, hypovolemic shock, distributive, shock, cardiogenic shock, unstable wide complex tachycardia, coarse and fine ventricular fibrillation, bradycardia due to hypoxia, asystole, pulseless electrical activity and torsades de pointes.

Both applications offer Commission on Accreditation for Pre-hospital Continuing Education continuing education hours.

Subscriptions start at $80 per year per learner, and special pricing is available for bundles. The VR applications require an internet connection and are optimized for a wireless Oculus Quest 2 enterprise headset. Health Scholars provides basic support services to get started or can provide and manage Quest 2 enterprise devices with an additional subscription.

Pediatric Assessment and Stabilization and Pediatric Resuscitation modules for clinicians are coming later this year.

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