Posted by Milena Zegarac on Nov 11, 2019 11:41:57 AM

The advantages of training fine motor skills using a variety of simulated procedures are undeniable. However, with discussions being generally based around virtual reality software, an essential component that highly contributes to successful simulation is often overlooked: the anatomical model.

In medical simulation training, physical anatomy is as important as the virtual anatomy. In addition to the simulated part of the procedure, educational value can be increased if what is on the outside looks and feels equally realistic. A physically correct anatomical model which can be manipulated by a trainee is an inseparable part of successful training in multiple medical specialties.

A sense of touch is crucial for a trainee to familiarize with the procedural area and acquire skills in the most efficient way. Training in realistic conditions can only be experienced if the simulated environment is immersive, offering a combination of true to life virtual and physical anatomy: visuals inside the simulator and precise anatomy structure to feel and interact with.

An evident example is arthroscopy, where VirtaMed Knee, Shoulder, Hip and Ankle models can be positioned and manually handled during the simulation, for different procedural requirements such as obtaining the necessary visibility of operating view, exactly like a surgeon would do in real life. In medical specialties where manipulation of anatomy does not take part of the course of procedure, the anatomical model remains just as significant to practice placing the patient in the correct position prior to the start of the procedure - especially having in mind the underappreciated risk for injuries resulting from incorrect positioning across various disciplines.

Another aspect to reflect on is that all surgical procedures imply working closely as a team, including a correct setup of team members around the patient and interactions of different instruments. It is foreseeable how such an environment with limited physical space can be challenging for trainees to work and coordinate movement in. As team performance is fundamental in surgery, a trainee is required to practice such interactions and communication with his or her peers before entering the OR, which goes hand in hand with the benefit of having an anatomical model during the simulated procedure.

Furthermore, for a trainee to properly learn to interact with the anatomy and coordinate the visual and physical part of the procedure, the anatomical model should also be correctly sized and shaped to mimic human anatomy and therefore offer the possibility to experience the same challenges as during real-life surgery, such as difficulty of access to a specific anatomy. For example, anatomical models in VirtaMed simulators provide guidance for the choice of portals, enabling safe training of portal placement and coordination of instruments.

VirtaMed ArthroS™ Hip anatomical modelVirtaMed ArthroS™ Hip anatomical model

Haptic feedback reproducing the feel of instruments and interactions with bone or tissue throughout the simulated procedure is another key component that allows the trainee to develop necessary motor skills. Tactile sensation is the most subtle interface of simulation. This notion of touch is referred to as haptics, and can be active or passive.

For all these reasons, having a true-to life, fully articulated anatomical model available in combination with highly realistic simulation scenarios is an essential requirement for successful and patient safety-focused training.

Each piece of VirtaMed’s anatomical models is carefully produced in close cooperation with medical experts worldwide. Contact us to learn more about our simulators and how the models can be easily changed on one universal platform to train multiple medical disciplines.