Wednesday, August 07, 2013

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Second Life Medical Simulation Useful for Assessing Surgical Residents - Report

Imperial College Second Life Medical Training

A new report in the latest New Journal of the American College of Surgeons claims that a Second Life simulation helped assess surgical residents effectively. Specifically:

Using an online virtual world called Second Life™, a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Imperial College, St. Mary’s Hospital developed three virtual reality environments—a standard hospital ward, an intensive care unit, and an emergency room... “What we have shown scientifically is that these three simulated scenarios at the three different levels are appropriate for the assessment of interns, junior residents, and senior residents and their management of these cases,” [report co-author Dr. Rajesh] Aggarwal explained.

The full report is here. The study was conducted at Imperial College, which has actually been using Second Life as a research tool for years, so it's quite possible the study's success stems from the students and faculty already being familiar with SL. I'm skeptical this RL application of Second Life could scale to other research facilities less familiar with the platform -- unless, of course, it was integrated with something like the Oculus Rift.


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Kim Anubis

Rock on, Imperial College!

Hamlet, could you please explain further why you think the Oculus Rift would make so great a difference for a simulation similar to to this one?


Fantastic to see the actual paper published. As a technically i was a subcontractor on all this I was not part of the research team, but I have enough kudos in the field I think ;). It was a very complex project as it involved interfacing a second life events engine with a complicated server representing the patient state. A real hybrid project. I have done a few more since with imperial and look forward to seeing the papers.
I am sure deeper immersion with rift can and will help in certain circumstances. However the lower Rez in each eye makes the complicated details and texts harder though it will be great for situational awareness such and new students getting used to an operating theatre.

Danielle M

Bethesda Hospitals’ Emergency Preparedness Partnership (BHEPP) is also reporting similar positive results with using virtual worlds for emergency preparedness training. The following news article was published this past June so their work is still current:

They claim that hospital workers become familiar with the environment through training so previous familiarity with the environment does not seem to be an issue. We have conducted several role-play scenarios at my institutions and a 40 minute intro seems to be sufficient.

Kim Anubis

Epredator, thanks for those insights into the use of Oculus Rift for this sort of application. Do you find that it improves the learning curve for new users?

It's great to see links to such positive research outcomes. Medical and disaster response simulations were the earliest uses of SL for education. I was fortunate to work with UC Davis Medical Center (actually my first client, way back in 2005). Here are summaries of the results of their bioterrorism response and virtual hallucinations projects.

I am unaware of any serious medical simulation project undertaken in SL that has not had similarly positive results. I hope to see more links posted here.

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