Robot baby gives medical students practice treating tiniest of patients

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For doctors, treating babies is among the biggest challenges. Some Montreal medical students are getting high-tech training on how to best approach their littlest patients.

The tiny simulator, dubbed the Luna, looks and cries like a newborn, allowing the students to get experience that’s as close to reality as possible. It’s the product of the healthcare division of the CAE, a company usually known for its aviation simulators.

“It’s extremely important to use simulation to train health care providers,” said  CAE Chief Strategic Advisor Dr. Robert Amyot. “You don’t want your beginners to practice on real patients. You want them to practice on plastic and pixels.”

Unlike previous simulators, the Luna uses softer material and is untethered, allowing medical students to practice treating babies suffering real life complications like jaundice and cardiac arrest.

“You’ll see distress, you’ll hear the baby potentially cry,” said Amyot. “You’re going to see sinosis and the vital signs are going to drop. The blood saturation and oxygen is going to drop as well and it’s going to start having laboured breathing or stop breathing.”

The device was developed in Quebec and medical training facility ESPA-Montreal is among the first places where students are using the simulator. McGill and Universite de Montreal’s medical schools will start using the devices later this year.

“Students don’t get exposed in other types of apprenticeship sites, like hospitals, to the whole range of clinical situations,” said ESPA-Montreal board secretary Monique Corbeil. “The most rare and often most severe clinical situations do not occur every day.”