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    October 2009

    Technology and Innovation Development

    WSSU is a National Leader in the Field of Clinical Training

    Through an innovative approach that leverages the latest in medical/serious gaming technology and advanced robotics or human patient simulators, Winston-Salem State University Department of Physical Therapy (WSSU-PT) is leading the nation in designing alternative formats for clinical training. 

    These simulation technologies expand the quality and depth of the educational experience by simulating actual patient responses both physiologically and psychologically to disease or injury. Students interact with human patient simulators that can produce a robust range of clinical symptoms in response to simulated patient conditions. These simulation technologies are poised to play a critical role in educating health science students due to limited access to clinical training sites as the result of provider shortages and the need for in-depth clinical skill training because of the complexities of patient care in today’s health care settings. 

    WSSU-PT is also customizing human patient simulators to provide enhanced simulation capabilities that better address the unique educational needs of rehabilitation specialists. 

    Through a partnership with a bioengineering faculty member at Wake Forest University (WFU) and the rapid prototyping facility at Western Carolina University, graduate students in both the WSSU-PT Department and WFU bioengineering are working together to design customized robotic limbs that will simulate common pathological states that are treated by physical therapists, nurses and other health professionals. This project is expected to produce novel intellectual property with the potential for licensing to other educational programs.

    Another project that is expected to generate intellectual property with the potential for licensing is a 3-D serious/medical game that the department is designing to further increase complex skill acquisition and critical thinking. The department is partnering with industry gaming professionals to develop interactive media using 3-D animations that allows students to have an ongoing, immersive experience in patient care. 

    Both the serious/medical game and the human patient simulators allow students to engage in clinical scenarios that promote the acquisition of both basic and complex clinical skills while minimizing risk to “real” patients. Simulation allows students who are novice providers to experience “successful failures”. Successful failures are failures in patient/client management that in a real-world scenario would culminate in harm to a patient or a poor clinical outcome. In the simulated environment, the student can fail with no resulting harm to a living person. This interactive experience which immerses students in a simulated clinical experience allows students to critique their own response and those of others participating in the simulation experience. As a result, the student can through critical analysis and ongoing feedback from peers and instructors alter their performance to attain a successful clinical outcome.  

    Additionally, the nature of these technologies allows them to be used to provide continuing competence training for licensed practitioners, skill development for novice, entry level professionals, work-re-entry training, risk management training, and community emergency preparedness training.


    For further information, please contact:

    Fidelis M. Ikem

    Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research

    Winston-Salem State University 

    (336) 750-2102