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Human-simulating medical robot finds home in UHV nursing program

By JR Ortega
March 31, 2010 at 6:05 p.m.
Updated March 31, 2010 at 11:01 p.m.

UHV nursing student Stephanie Valdez, like most people, finds the experience of interacting with SimMan a unique lesson. The human simulator, named James Corrigan, was recently acquired by the University of Houston and is in use by nursing students at UHV. Top: The latest generation software and hardware, developed for the military, is used in the medical field. Real-time displays of vital signs plus options to simulate interactive human behavior are run on a notebook-style laptop. See video online at VictoriaAdvocate.com.

WHAT CAN THE SIMMAN 3G DO?

Seizure

Bleed at multiple sites

Secrete through eyes, ears, nose and mouth

Bowel sounds

Chest compresses and decompresses

Has pre-recorded sounds, as well as custom sounds and instructor's ability to simulate patient's voice wirelessly.

Can blink and respond to light.

Drugs can be administered and read by the robot.

*For more information and video on what the SimMan 3G can do, visit www.laerdal.info and click on the SimMan 3G link.

James Corrigan is 72, at home receiving hospice care and he's dying of lung cancer.

The good thing about Corrigan is that with a quick reboot, he's all better.

Last week, the University of Houston-Victoria unveiled the SimMan 3G, the university's first human-simulating medical robot.

"We can have any type of situation happen," said Jere Hammer, a nursing professor at UHV. "It's as close as you can get to real."

The robot can be programmed to copy any symptom a nursing student might see in a real human in a real situation.

The human robot can have anything from indigestion to a heart attack.

Students can also draw blood, monitor vital signs and give it virtual medication to treat the simulated symptoms.

Stephanie Valdez, a senior of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at UHV, had never used a simulation, she said.

Valdez graduated from Victoria College with her associate's degree and has been a nurse in the field for three years.

"It was different," she said about her first experience with the technology.

The simulation is almost like dealing with a real patient and can be a great educational tool for students, she said.

"It can do things that a normal person would do," Valdez said. "But if there's a symptom or something like a heart sound you don't normally get to hear in your job or in a clinical setting, it can be simulated here. Which is really neat."

The SimMan 3G cost just more than $60,000 and was part of a $205,000 grant awarded to the university through the M.G. and Lillie Johnson Foundation.

Corrigan won't be the robot's name forever, Hammer said.

She hopes to have a vote and see what name the school wants to name him, she said.

For now, he'll be there to help present and future nursing classes at the soon-to-be four-year university.

"Everything we do in nursing I think is heroic," Hammer said. "It's about caring and balancing that caring with technology."

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