In what is thought to be a world first, realistic overweight female manikin has been developed for use in training nursing, pharmacy and medical students.
Aston University College of Health and Life Sciences and the firm Simulation Man are collaborating on the project, which will see two manikins produced.
“The development of R42 is really important”
The female manikin, dubbed R42, has already been built and was launched earlier this month at the Association for Simulated Practice in Healthcare (ASPiH) conference.
R42, so named as it represents the 42% of the US population who are overweight, is a realistic shape, rather than having a flat back, to better simulate an overweight patient, and has breasts.
It will be used to train students at Aston to carry out medical procedures such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), intubation, inserting IV lines and catheterisation, as well as for manual handling.
The university noted that typically available manikins used to train students for clinical procedures were slim, but such procedures could prove more difficult in those carrying weight or having breasts.
Manual handling overweight manikins, meanwhile, were “often little more than beanbags”, according to those behind the new project.
In contrast, they said R42 had an internal skeleton to make it more realistic to move and handle. Students could, therefore, learn how to care for and move larger patients with dignity, they said.
According to the latest statistics from NHS England, 63.8% of adults in England are overweight, with 25.9% of those classified as living with obesity.
The university highlighted that adverse incidents relating to patient safety doubled with overweight and obese patients, meaning that better training was vital.
The collaboration resulted from a call made by Professor Liz Moores, deputy dean of the College of Health and Life Sciences, to Jacob Rahman at Simulation Man, asking for an overweight manikin.
In the absence of such a manikin, Mr Rahman suggested working on one together. He said he believed that R42 was the world’s first overweight training manikin that looks and feels realistic.
Commenting on the commercial potential of the manikin, Mr Rahman said: “This will be a global product. I think we have thus far really underestimated the impact and global reach this will have.
“The key aspect is students will learn how to have empathy with obese patients, how to be inclusive, and to make sure that they are aware of unconscious bias,” he said.
“There is a case for every medical and nursing university in the world to have one,” he suggested.
Professor Moores said: “Lots of patients are overweight so it’s useful to have experience with overweight patients.
“As a female obese manikin, this manikin also has large breasts,” she said. “We want our students to know how to resuscitate people irrespective of body type.”
She added: “Whilst diversity in manikins has already extended to skin tone, age and more recently certain disabilities, there are no realistic looking and feeling obese manikins available in the UK.
“The development of R42 is really important,” stated Professor Moores.
The R42 manikin was officially launched at the ASPiH conference, held in Brighton from 6 to 8 November.
The first R42 manikin will be installed at Aston University for students to use before the end of 2023, with a second due in early 2024.