Phoenix, AZ− June 1, 2015− LearnBrite, a division of 3D entertainment and e-learning company ExitReality Inc., is collaborating with Australian Curtin University to develop virtual reality learning simulations for medical students, caregivers and healthcare professionals. The ultimate goal is to save lives by combining expert medical know-how with virtual training experiences focused on patient communication and falls-risk management.
The project was presented at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy (WCPT) congress on May 1st in Singapore by Curtin University Director of Teaching & Learning, Anne Furness.
"The concept of using virtual reality to teach and assess a student's ability to examine a patient and arrive at a diagnosis or problem list has great potential as a teaching tool at the early stages of their education since interaction with a live patient may not always be possible," said Dr. Ah-Cheng Goh, keynote for the world congress and founding president of the International Society for Electrophysical Agents in Physical Therapy.
LearnBrite’s platform provides, in combination with subject matter expertise offered by universities, tailor-made virtual reality training programs that enable students and professionals to gain practical experience across multiple disciplines. The developer’s collaboration with educators and students from Curtin University and other institutions of higher education has yielded this particular version of the platform’s training program.
The tailor-made version of the LearnBrite platform is a simulator that places the students and caregivers of elderly patients in unexpected, realistic situations, where just as in real life, students learn how to react quickly, properly, make prompt but correct assessments, ultimately learning how to manage risks and save lives.
With LearnBrite‘s technology, the teacher can go even deeper in the student’s assessment. They can assess the students character, personality and levels of empathy. This facilitates better placement and guidance of the student with positions and jobs that suit them. The platform’s training and assessment capabilities eliminate the ‘one size-fits all’ traditional online courses where students click the ‘Next’ button to view slides of information followed by a quiz. By doing this it saves universities and companies tens of thousands of dollars, every year in on-the-spot training, achieving better results.
In Australia alone, where the first project has seen the bulk of its research and development, ‘falls’ and associated injuries among elderly patients are typically common. These are traumatic both physically and mentally not just for the patient but for the family as well. And needless to say, costly both to the patient and the wider community. Approximately one in three Australians aged more than 65 years living in the community experience injuries from a fall each year.
In 1998 in Australia, there were 1114 deaths from fall-related injuries among this age group. A staggering 45,000 people aged 65 or above were hospitalized for fall-related injuries, averaging 11 days of hospital care each, resulting in a total of 486,484 hospital bed days during this 12-month period.
LearnBrite’s virtual reality platform comes to the aid of the caregiver, it affords the healthcare professional or student the opportunity to analyze risks in 15 categories including trip, slip, diet and medication risks. And just like in reality not everything is obvious, the student needs to be curious, look in the right places and communicate with patients and their family. Being a virtual experience allows the student to see the effects of their decisions, without the natural stress and apprehensiveness that goes with working with living patients. At the same time the student decisions are collected and assessed to test their actions and knowledge.
The platform simulates the reality of a patient’s home and living conditions and, during this assessment, observations are made and tracked, after which the student produces a Falls Risk-Management plan for each patient. Falls Risk-Management plans help reduce risks to patients, avoiding future incidents, improving the quality of living and ultimately saving lives.
The team behind Oculus VR has spent years researching and developing the Oculus Rift, the head-mounted gaming display that is believed to create, along with appropriate software, a seismic shift in many professions and practical training in dangerous or sensitive fields.
With their goal for better, more efficient education and more detailed assessment, Curtin and LearnBrite, have built the software to deliver and track educational experiences. Playing with Oculus Rift’s cutting edge headset technology, enabling physiotherapy students to virtually enter the homes of virtual high-risk ‘Falls’ patients.
“The graphics were impressive and the controls were intuitive and responsive,” said Dr. Goh when using the experience on an iPhone 6. The custom HTML5 and WebGL solution created by LearnBrite allows virtual reality experiences to be delivered through the world leading Moodle learning system to any device from smartphone to the Oculus headset. The platform already supports Google Cardboard, Samsung Gear VR and Oculus Rift with plans to support the Valve/HTC Vive, Sony Morpheus and Microsoft Hololens.
"Curtin, with their content expertise, have delivered a ground-breaking experience for students," said LearnBrite CEO Danny Stefanic. “LearnBrite was recommended by industry experts to Curtin. Clarity and precision being crucial, we communicated constantly throughout the project and especially at the beginning when defining the desired outcomes.
Choosing WebGL made the most sense, although it did present significant challenges which LearnBrite overcame quickly.
“We are happy with the outcome so far and can’t wait to take it to the next level,” he added. “We never anticipated one project could deliver so much flexibility and accessibility taking into account how new the technology used is.”
In plain terms, just months from now, students and professionals around the globe could be receiving hands-on, realistic training with virtual patients through the LearnBrite platform using hardware like Oculus Rift, or any other device. We now give students the ability to learn, improve and assess in an engaging way no matter if they are using a smartphone, a tablet, PC, Mac or a VR headset.
The future of care for aged and other patients requiring round-the-clock attention may lie in virtual reality itself. As the technology is developing at a long-awaited but rapid pace, LearnBrite and Curtin University are following in stride and using existing technology on all sides to create a usable, practical system to better patient care and modern medical practice.
LearnBrite is aiming to build more online training platforms in HTML5 and inviting enterprises, universities and e-learning companies to create pilot projects with their unique blend of technology.
LearnBrite is one of the companies grown by VR veteran entrepreneur, Danny Stefanic. His consortium headed by ExitReality includes Moodalytics.com, MoodleBadges.com, Twinity.com, ResponsiveVoice.com and Koinup.com
LearnBrite are active in the e-learning sector with avatars, non-linear dialogue, gamification and virtual environments. They have developed an e-learning platform based on HTML5, offering increased levels of engagement, involvement and motivation, facilitating self-paced learning and memorable and immersive learning experiences.
The Company is focused on continuing its market expansion and new product development to meet the global trend towards leveraging 3D and virtual reality technology to improve student performance.