New CathSim training system software to evaluate user's intravenous therapy skills

San Francisco 26 February 2001Immersion Medical, formerly HT Medical Systems, a Maryland-based, wholly owned subsidiary of Immersion Corporation, has released a new skills assessment module for the widely used CathSim Intravenous Catheterisation Training Simulator. The module is designed to evaluate and test cognitive and motor skills necessary to perform common intravenous therapies.

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The new skills assessment module offers detailed measurements of a practitioner's technique. The various motor skills are tested as health care practitioners perform simulated intravenous procedures. Cognitive tests cover many aspects of intravenous therapy like age-related issues, safety, cannulation techniques, and policy concerns. The simulated procedures are recorded for later review, and test results are stored in a database capable of generating detailed reports on individual, unit, departmental, or facility-wide performance.

"The CathSim skills assessment module satisfies an important need in the medical community by providing a method to accurately and objectively measure skills of practitioners", commented Greg Merril, the founder of Immersion Medical. "With this tool, it is possible for supervisors to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of any practitioner, and institutions can use the system as a means to measure performance, view progress, or even test potential new hires."

The CathSim system duplicates both the look and the feel of performing an actual intravenous therapy procedure. A combination of real time graphics and digital TouchSense technology engages the user's senses of sight and touch, allowing realistic simulation of skin stretching, tissue resistance, and venipuncture, which is the "pop" of a needle entering a patient's vein. Various CathSim modules simulate intravenous therapy procedures for children, adults and older patients, as well as patients requiring phlebotomy or blood-drawing procedures.

In a CathSim simulation, the practitioners perform intravenous therapy by manipulating a physical needle which is attached to a custom computer interface device. This device controls the on-screen navigation of a computer-generated needle through realistic, interactive anatomy. The interface device equally provides precise force feedback, allowing the user to feel the varying degrees of resistance associated with inserting a needle through skin and into a vein. This creates a level of realism unavailable in other intravenous training regimens, which often require trainees to practice venipuncture on oranges or plastic arms.

This type of application illustrates the importance of haptics, the science of touch, by adding tactile feedback to medical simulators. Touch is a crucial sensory tool which medical professionals rely upon heavily for an accurate diagnostic and tactile confirmation in delicate procedures. Until recently, computers have only been able to effectively simulate the sight and sound of medical procedures. Now, however, it is possible to add the missing sense of touch to these important training tools.

Immersion Medical's interest in medical simulation goes beyond intravenous therapy. The company currently produces simulators for sigmoidoscopy, bronchoscopy, and cardiovascular procedures. These systems are utilised worldwide in hospitals, universities, colleges and nursing schools. Founded in 1993, Immersion Corporation develops and licenses advanced hardware and software technologies that let people use their sense of touch to better interact with the digital world around them. Immersion's haptic technology can be applied to virtually every digital experience including personal computing, entertainment, medical training, automotive interfaces, and three-dimensional simulation.

Immersion's patented TouchSense technologies can dramatically improve computer users' performance and productivity by unlocking their sense of touch and allowing them to feel what they see and perform on the computer screen. Immersion's medical simulation systems enable the health care professionals to improve their procedural skills and increase patient safety by using "digital patients". Immersion and its wholly owned subsidiaries hold over 95 issued patents worldwide.

Immersion Medical Inc., formerly HT Medical Systems, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Immersion Corporation. The company designs, manufactures and markets computer-based medical simulation systems worldwide. The systems integrate proprietary computer software and tactile feedback with new low-cost, high-power graphics computers to achieve highly realistic simulation systems. The company's three key product lines are the CathSim Intravenous Training System, the AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator, and the AccuTouch Endovascular Training Simulator.


Leslie Versweyveld

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