Affordable augmented reality set to get under the skin of medical training with a 3D training experience

23 November 2023

Medical professionals will now be able to see what’s going on inside the body as well as outside when they are training on simulation manikins thanks to an innovative new product launched by Limbs & Things.

Affordable augmented reality set to get under the skin of medical training with a 3D training experience

The ART (Augmented Reality Training) mat works with everyday tablets and smartphones to show a 3D, 360-degree interactive view of internal anatomy by physically moving around a simulation manikin so trainees can see a procedure from all angles.

Bristol-based medical designer and manufacturer Limbs & Things designed the affordable mat for worldwide use. Unlike expensive VR headsets, the ART mat is very cost effective – it is automatically included in the purchase of a range of Limbs products and can be bought for just £250 to retrofit onto a previously bought task trainer and can be used with a range of Limbs products.

It’s particularly useful for essential techniques such as lumbar punctures, catheterisation, and epidurals because it shows the medical professional what’s happening inside the body at the same time as them carrying out the intricate procedure.

Lumbar punctures in particular are notoriously difficult and highly pressured procedures, as they involve inserting a needle through a 10mm or less gap in the spinal cord. Practicing these procedures with the ART mat helps trainees become more confident performing examinations, which in turn improves the patient’s experience.

Early prototypes were developed to help with training in the obstetrics field and now have been applied initially to two Limbs & Things products: Catheterisation and Lumber puncture & Epidural, which cover a wide range of skills from undergraduate to highly specialist. The company aims to apply the mat to its Chest drain and PROMPT Flex products, and eventually apply augmented reality to a large range its products.

Anne Allin, commercial director at Limbs & Things, said: “We wanted first and foremost to improve the training experience for some of the more invasive procedures, as well as standard diagnostic processes, that need to be carried out on a patient, but we also wanted it to be within reach cost-wise for as many teaching institutions as possible around the world.

“It’s very important to us as a business that our products are accessible, both from a practical and pricing point of view – ultimately we want to improve all patient outcomes through better training, not just some.”

“This product is particularly exciting because it is using technology in a very simple yet highly effective way and takes training on our simulators to yet another level.”

Over 67,000 diagnostic and nearly 15,000 therapeutic lumbar punctures are performed in England each year.

Lumbar puncture is commonly performed as part of a septic screen in infants under three months of age. The success rate is highly variable, between 50–70%, and many infants require multiple attempts.

Watch a video of the ART Mat in use here