Hyper-realistic geriatric manikin takes training for Mizzou nurses to a new level
Sept. 12, 2023
As soon as one walks into the Miller Family Clinical Skills Lab at the MU Sinclair School of Nursing (SSON), they’ll notice the 14 beds occupied by manikins. These manikins look similar to their moniker, resembling mannequins with a canny appearance that easily gives away that they are not actual patients.
Equipped with many simulation technology capabilities including computer driven physiological changes, these doll-like figures have varying skin tones and sizes, representing ages from infancy to adulthood. Some even bear tattoos, but they all share one feature – their smooth skin lacks texture and variance, making even the adult manikins appear to be younger. However, the clinical skills lab has one manikin who stands out from the rest.
Vivien, a Lifecast Manikin, was cast from medical grade silicone with the height and weight of an 82-year-old female with visible, underlying vasculature and bone features. While she does not have as much technology as the other manikins, she does have a complex skin texture and appearance, including wrinkles, moles, age spots and realistic hair. She also has palpable veins and can be used to instruct students in CPR and intubation, allowing for oropharyngeal (mouth) and nasopharyngeal (nostril) airways.
In the United States, there are currently more than 46 million adults who are 65 years of age or older. The Administration for Community Living predicts that this number will increase to 90 million by the year 2050. Given the growing geriatric population, Dena Higbee, executive director of simulation at the MU Shelden Clinical Center, recognizes the importance of providing nursing students with more exposure to geriatric patients during their training. Higbee also stresses the importance of realism in how a Lifecast Manikin moves compared to a normal manikin which would be much stiffer. “Vivien has a lot of mobility, so students can move or turn her in the bed and her limbs actually move like a real patient.”
In addition to the manikin’s realistic looks and mobility, Higbee notes students have a real story to connect with while treating Vivien. This Lifecast Manikin was modeled after Vivien Bridson, an actress and dancer most notably seen in Star Wars: Episode VIII, The Last Jedi and Christopher Robin. Higbee says, “What I hope is that students will grasp on to the story and see Vivien as a grandmother or mother and practice communication skills around topics like hospice and DNR (do not resuscitate).”
The Sinclair School of Nursing is home to several faculty who focus their research on the aging population and is proud to offer students training with this life-like geriatric manikin. The nursing school and Miller Family Simulation Center are open to the public for tours several times each year. During these tours, guests can have a closer look at Vivien, who has given more than one guest a jump scare when they first see her life-like form.