A High-tech Simulator Helps USF Teach Athletic Trainers

The "iStan" simulator, which mimics sports-related injuries.
The "iStan" simulator lays on the USF football practice field, waiting for trainers to arrive & treat his injuries.
TAMPA (2011-7-21) -

Football season is just around the corner, and while teams from high school to the pros get ready for action, the folks that treat injured players are getting prepared too, and some are turning to USF for a little high-tech help.

Trainers from a number of local universities were joined by members of the Buccaneers training staff, members of the USF Athletics Sports Medicine team and Tampa Fire and Rescue paramedics for a day of hands-on medical practice. They worked together on an "iStan" simulator, a lifelike mannequin that can mimic a variety of serious injuries, including spinal damage and heart failure.

"Most of these people out here today have only practiced a couple times," said Mickey Cuppett, director of USF’s Athletic Training Education, "and so the more times we can get them to practice, the better they’re going to be if the situation ever arose that they would have to provide resuscitation on the field."

The simulator runs on a computer program, allowing whoever's at the controls to change iStan’s condition on the fly. In one training case, the human providing iStan's voice told the medical team he couldn't feel his legs. A few moments later, the simulator showed signs of cardiac arrest, forcing the trainers and paramedics to shock iStan's heart back into rhythm.

And once the training was done, the team adjourned to the USF Football video room, where they reviewed video tape of the sessions and telemetry produced by their interactions with iStan.

Cuppett hopes that as a result of this training, the medical teams will be ready for unexpected situations they might have to face one day on the field, much like a well-prepared football team.

"We expect our athletes to practice so that they can perform at their best, shouldn’t we expect our medical professionals to practice to perform at their best?"

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