Pediatric patients present unique challenges to health care students and professionals. Children are not miniature adults — the way they process information, how their bodies function, how they respond to medication, and their communication skills are very different. Now, engineers at Gaumard Scientific have revealed a humanoid pediatric patient simulatorthat assists with medical training devices. The robot, known as HAL, looks like a five-year old boy and opens the door to new training techniques. Hal is “designed to help providers of all levels develop the specialized skills needed to effectively communicate, diagnose, and treat young patients in nearly all clinical areas.”
Pediatric HAL includes 10 outcome-focused scenarios designed to replicate a variety of clinical situations throughout the spectrum of pediatric care. He has been designed to allow doctors and nurses in-training to perform tests such as taking his blood pressure, checking his pulse and monitoring breathing. Real medical equipment can be used on HAL, which includes an EKG machine, heart or blood pressure monitor.
Simulating lifelike emotions
HAL can be shocked with a defibrillator and have his throat cut for insertion of a tracheal tube. Doctors in training can also draw blood, insert urinary catheters or insert a chest tube with what looks like real blood coming from the tub. He will also flinch or say “ouch” if he is pricked, mimicking the movements of a real patient.
Facial expressions, emotions, and moods are especially important to the provider because they offer vital diagnostic clues and help develop feelings of empathy which ultimately leads to better patient outcomes.
Pediatric HAL’s new facial robotics aims to offer deeper immersion and emotional engagement for the providers and a new way of developing patient-provider communication skills and empathy, without the limitations associated with standardized patients. The goal is to help educators develop well-rounded providers ready to provide the best care for young patients in every clinical scenario.