Avatar-based CPR training a big hit with high schoolers

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High school students are enthusiastic about CPR training using video-game technology, accoridng to a new study building on previous research showing medical students feel the same.

Less than 30 percent of out-of-hospital victims of sudden cardiac arrest receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), the authors wrote, citing the need for more trained laypeople and more engaging training methods. The new study, conducted in Sweden and the United States, trained students in groups of three using multiplayer virtual worlds (MMVW) technology, according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

In the game's virtual worlds, the students dealt with avatars controlled by the instructor in four scenarios, including a classroom and an outdoor parking lot. In training sessions of 90 to 120 minutes, they learned CPR protocol and how to assist paramedics who arrive on the scene.

The researchers reported students' concentration levels were medium to high during the training, with the rates for U.S. subjects significantly higher than the Swedish students, and that concentration levels increased over time. Swedish students, however, said the scenarios were too easy and offered too few opportunities for interaction.

In post-training follow-up, the students reported feeling more confident in their ability to respond to such situations and more prepared to do so should such a situation arise.

More cardiac arrest patients survive in the United States, compared with a decade ago, in part due to better CPR techniques and better public access to automated external defibrillators, Reuters Health reported last summer.

"Even with a great demand for new training methods in high school and in the area of CPR training, MMVW serious games must be carefully studied not only from the students' perspective, but also from the teachers' and organizations' perspectives to clarify the challenges and needs required for implementation," the authors wrote in the study.

Use of gaming technology is growing across industries for training, marketing and other business uses. Stanford University Medical Center physicians, researchers and education technology experts developed a web-based game called Septris to teach physicians about the dangers of the deadly infection sepsis.

Therapists at Mayo Clinic have reported success in using Nintendo's Wii gaming console to improve patients' mobility, especially among post-surgery patients and the elderly.

University of Pittsburgh researchers see video games as a powerful tool for improving patient health, especially when making monotonous, repetitive tasks more interesting.

To learn more:
- read the study

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