Researchers develop augmented reality app, simulate injuries to instruct medical students

By Aditi Pai

mARbleUrs Albrecht, deputy director at the Germany-based Peter L Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics, has developed an app that simulates injuries and health conditions for medical students. The app uses QR code-like technology to show a simulated medical issue using augmented reality through the medical student's mobile device.

Albrecht, who also works at the Department of Legal Medicine of Hannover Medical School, was trying to figure out how to create learning environments for medical students without breaking ethical codes. One such ethical code is letting medical students examine crime victims because the victims could suffer from re-traumatization if not treated properly.

"Augmented reality was perfect for this project and we started to develop an AR app for the iPhone that presents forensic findings on the intact skin of the students," Albrecht told MobiHealthNews in an email. "As a tutor I could use a set of AR markers to arrange findings on the students themselves and they were able to examine each other. This was an experience a textbook could not offer."

He recently put the app through a small study of 10 third-year medical students. To study the effects of the app, Albrecht split the students into two groups and gave one group of six students the app on an iPad and gave the second group of four students textbook materials. After a 30-minute learning period, the students were tested on their emotional state and knowledge gained. After the tests, Albrecht found the students who used the app had a greater knowledge of the material.

While this was a small study, Albrecht is working on another study with 50 medical students who are studying dermatology.

Last August, Albrecht and his research group, PLRI MedAppLab at Hannover Medical School, developed another app, called deBac-app, which uses in-app sensors to ensure the iPad was properly cleaned. The app also reminds users when its time for their daily iPad sterilization.

PLRI MedAppLab does said commercializing the app is not their primary goal.