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Kiwi Ingenuity Bolsters Health Education Toolbox

What do you get when you combine a cheap Android tablet, some skilled wood carving, grey paint, an old bedside hospital locker, and a good dose of clever software engineering?

The answer is a simulated X-ray control panel that looks and acts like the real thing at a fraction of the price for the state-of-the-art Manawa Simulation Centre.

The panel was completed by the Medical Physics and Bioengineering department at Christchurch Hospital, in collaboration with staff from Ara Institute of Canterbury, and was created to enable radiology students to practice their X-ray technique in a safe, radiation-free environment.

The Medical Imaging area needed a fully functioning X-ray control panel, says Biomedical Engineer Michael Sheedy.

“These are very expensive but in a few weeks we were able to design and produce a replica at an extremely reduced cost that emulates everything the real one can do.”

A team of technicians ‘hand sculpted’ the case from MDF and mounted a sheet of plastic to simulate the leaded glass and wired up the electronics, including a real X-ray exposure button for added realism.

“We are very pleased with the result,” Michael says.

Manawa, the health research and education facility, is a collaboration between Christchurch’s health and tertiary education sectors, bringing together the Canterbury District Health Board, Ara and University of Canterbury to help create and train the health workforce.

The simulation floor at Manawa enables large-scale simulations in real world healthcare environments and provides access to advanced clinical equipment that students would normally only see during placements.

Clinical Skills Co-ordinator Christine Beasley says the project team have really worked their magic to meet the needs of the Ara students.

“This enables students to get the full experience before they use them on clinical placement and we are thrilled with the outcome.”


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