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Simutrach is a device
invented by Amy Cowperthwait and developed by an interdisciplinary team of
students and faculty at the University of Delaware, which provides realistic
training for teaching health care providers on how to safely and effectively
care for patients with a tracheostomy. This project is a collaboration between
Nursing, Healthcare Theatre, Engineering, and most recently Business and
Fashion Merchandising. The team is led by Amy Cowperthwait, Nursing Instructor,
Allan Carlsen, Assistant Professor of Theater, and Jenni Buckley, Assistant
Professor of Engineering, and Amy Bucha, Liaison College of Health Science and
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UD Junior Nursing Student demonstrating proper
suctioning technique to their instructor while picking up on non-verbal cues of
The first prototype was developed by a team of engineering students in their senior design class and its final prototype is now being field tested at several other hospitals and universities. The synergy of this collaboration is extremely effective, engineering students received direct feedback from the nursing faculty and students after each prototype for immediate improvement. The device is worn by actors from Healthcare Theatre, which is a class in which students are taught by nursing and theatre faculty how to act as patients and family members in an emergency medical environment. Actors from Healthcare Theater are taught various responses to different cues based on the Nursing students provision of care. Since a tracheostomy patient has a tube in their throat and cannot speak, the device gives the actors different types of vibrations to tell them how to react using only nonverbal responses consisting of facial expressions, coughing and appropriate body movements.
Using cues that are imbedded in SimUTrach, the
patient is able to give realistic, real time patient responses to the quality
of care provided thereby offering a voice for the voiceless and improved
Simutrach improves the way that Nursing students communicate and perform psycho motor skills because they are learning to provide care in an extremely realistic setting. The device gives Nursing majors hands on training that is as authentic as possible because the actors' facial expressions tell the Nursing majors how well they are performing the tracheostomy in real time and. The Nursing students then receive immediate feedback from their instructors and "patients" after the simulation.Ross Lefkowitz, MBA Student, is now conducting market research to devise the best plan for introducing this product into the market. In addition, the team is discussing how to license this product from the University and develop it into a successful business. The team believes that this product will revolutionize healthcare simulation in a variety of learning environments, especially at universities and hospitals.
UD Junior Nursing Student experiencing first hand what assessment and communication skills are necessary when performing invasive procedures such as tracheostomy cleaning on a hospitalized patient