Fortunately, most births proceed without serious complications. But because of the wide variety of potential birthing complications and medical circumstances that may be involved, when an unusual situation occurs it may the one of the first times that the medical staff has ever encountered that specific scenario. Without having had hands on experience with a particular birthing complication the risk of an avoidable birth injury is increased.
Traditional medical education involves a great deal of study and later as a resident extensive observation. While it is unquestionably valuable for medical students to observe experienced physicians conducting various birthing procedures, there is a substantial difference between seeing a procedure performed and performing it yourself. But no one wants to be the first patient that a doctor performs involving a shoulder dystocia or some other complication. Improved medical simulators are allowing doctors to practice their techniques on computerized manikins rather than real life birthing mothers.
A new birthing simulator is one of the new breed of ultra realistic medical training devices that attempt to recreate every part of a birthing complication except the risk to the mother and infant.
This birthing simulator, known as Noelle, includes an anatomically accurate rubber version of a newborn and birthing mother. A magnetic device inside the abdomen simulates the delivery of the model infant. The infant can cry, breath and even has a pulse. If it is deprived of oxygen it turns blue. The delivering mother model has a speaker which plays phrases a mother may use, even its pupils dilate. Various complications can be recreated via the simulators software.
Of course delivering a simulated baby does not confer the same level of experience as real child birth. But for medical students who need to bridge the gap between observation and practice this type of program may significantly improve outcomes for patients.
Source: International Business Times "The Patient Is Rubber and She's Talking to You" Yiting Sun, July 25, 2011