Video and computer games are something that most children living in the developed world have been exposed to. From the early days of Super Mario on the Nintendo Entertainment System, to the engrossing, cinematic-like titles that are part of today’s game consoles and computers, gaming is something that is familiar to many.
Because of this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to tap into this gaming expertise to apply the interactive techniques found in video games to create an educational app that can be used on mobile devices that will specifically teach medical first responders.
Medical first responders are expected to adapt to a number of emergency situations and provide necessary care to keep a patient alive. This knowledge of how to deal with intense and unexpected situations is not always is not readily gleaned from mere textbook material, but requires simulations, and experience to master.
Traditional computer-based simulations, though, focus on training specific skills and techniques as a part of a larger context, usually a traditional classroom-based program. However, with the advent of game-based graphics and techniques, DARPA wants to develop a system combining skills training with broad educational applications.
“For example, instead of merely teaching where to apply a tourniquet, the computer-based system would also reinforce the lesson with demonstrations and discussions of the circulatory system. This allows students to learn why wounds in slightly different areas of the body respond differently, and why and when to apply pressure under certain conditions.”
By exposing medical first responders to a broader range of understanding of biology and physiology concepts, DARPA is hoping that they wll be more well-rounded and able to react to unusual situations better.
According to DARPA’s request for proposal, they are seeking game-based interactive systems that are engaging and challenging to the user. It must further be, “compelling, innovative, and designed to motivate users for continued interactions. Innovative approaches for visualization and interaction with these different types of information are required.” It will further need to be flexible enough to be jointly used in both medical training and in civilian science classes.
iMedicalApps has previously reported on the gamification of healthcare, and this is another offshoot of that concept. Some apps are focused on patients such as Hubbub Health’s Social Online Community, while others are geared toward medical professionals. In fact, we recently reviewed The Ward Round App, which is an exciting (and addictive) app most appropriate for medical students or residents, drilling them with hundreds of quick and interactive medical cases across a variety of specialties.
Moving on, a further goal of DARPA is to create an app designed for smart phones and tablets that is able to teach first responders through “intelligent tutoring systems.” Basically, DARPA wants a personal tutor program that is able to teach basic skills through diagrams, questions, etc. and is also able to answer essential questions about why students should or should not have responded the way they did. Using the application, students should learn both basic skills and the basic principles of human physiology, DARPA officials said.