“If you don’t recognize the change pretty quickly, it’s possible that you could pop the baby’s lung if you didn’t adjust the ventilator support,” says José D. Rojas, Ph.D., RRT, associate professor in the Department of Respiratory Care at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. The university offers a bachelor’s degree program in respiratory care and recently launched a master’s degree track for registered therapists seeking to advance their training.
According to Rojas, it’s vital to give students hands-on experience to prepare them for every imaginable ventilator management scenario, like how to treat a premature infant in respiratory distress. But the high risk nature of such a situation means students typically just observe in the delivery room or intensive care unit rather than participate in the baby’s care, he says.
That’s why Rojas and many respiratory care programs are equipping their teaching labs with the ASL 5000 Adult/Neonatal Breathing Simulator. The ASL 5000 is a digitally controlled, high fidelity breathing simulator capable of recreating almost any patient breathing pattern, including the spontaneously breathing patient. Furthermore, the instructor can make the patient’s condition change over time, and have the student make appropriate changes in ventilator settings.
“You can let someone practice without putting real patients in danger and also let them see critical situations that don’t happen all that often,” Rojas says. The ASL 5000 can be used as a standalone tool to simulate challenging ventilator patients. Or it can interface with full-body patient simulators—such as the Laerdal simulation manikins—providing the sophisticated set of lungs necessary to model the subtleties of real-life respiratory disease states.
“One of the big limitations of the manikin simulators is that even though people call them high fidelity, they are low fidelity when it comes to breathing, which is why we use the ASL 5000.”
José D. Rojas, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston
“We use the ASL 5000 with the whole Laerdal Sim family, even SimNewB. The smaller the manikin, the tighter the space, so it gets more challenging, but we’ve streamlined the instrumentation process for all the platforms.”
A simple, fully reversible “lung surgery” bypasses SimMan’s lungs and replaces them with the ASL 5000 in a matter of minutes. In Laerdal’s latest generation manikins, a special port accommodates the tubing to integrate the ASL 5000. If the ASL 5000 takes a deep breath or increases respiratory rate, so does SimMan. The manikin’s interface also provides realistic chest rise in response to the ASL 5000.
“We’ve been using the ASL 5000 with SimMan for quite awhile,” Rojas says. “It breathes spontaneously on its own like a real person. You can change the compliance and resistance of the lungs. You can adjust patient parameters on the fly while the simulation is running. It’s lightweight and portable. And the ASL 5000 can truly trigger the ventilator.” Rojas also has developed a straightforward method to connect the ASL 5000 to Laerdal’s other patient simulators, such as SimBaby and SimJunior. The smaller the manikin, the tighter the space, so it gets more challenging, but we’ve streamlined the instrumentation process for all the platforms.”
“We use the ASL 5000 with the whole Sim family, even SimNewB.”
The ASL 5000 has provided respiratory care students at UTMB at Galveston with the tool they need to get invaluable hands-on training with even the smallest, most fragile of patients. As a result, their clinical performance and exam scores are improving, Rojas says, and they are better prepared to meet the challenges they will face in a critical care setting.
“It’s been a huge plus to our program, and my students really enjoy it,” he says. “It’s a way to process a lot of information they’ve been given and practice their skills. It’s also the classic case of ’if you give me a little bit, I’ll want more.’ Now I’m trying to figure out how to get more ASLs!”
Related: Lung Kit for Laerdal SimMan® 3G