Modeling and simulation researchers at Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk Virginia have teamed up with surgeons from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters (CHKD) also located in Norfolk, to treat common chest deformities in children.
Pectus excavatum, Latin for “hollowed chest”, causes several ribs and the sternum to grow abnormally. This produces a caved-in or sunken appearance of the chest which can be present at birth or not develop until puberty.
In the 1990’s CHKD surgeon Donald Nuss developed a minimally invasive technique to correct the problem. In the Nuss procedure, the surgeon threads a curved metal bar under the sternum to push it out into a normal position. The bar is anchored to the ribs and remains in place for two years so the chest wall can harden in its new position.
To advance the treatment, the Eastern Virginia Medical School is continuing to refine the procedure. The researchers developed and are collaborating with modeling and simulation researchers from ODU to develop a new device referred to as the Pectus Bar Extractor. The goal is to improve the procedure and to develop hands-on simulation to train physicians to perform it safely.
The Pectus Bar Extractor was tested on a patient March 2012 with promising results. Now the research team hopes to make several more extraction tools for the clinical trial which could lead to commercialization of the device.
Another ODU project is in motion to address team work to more efficiently provide healthcare especially in rural areas. HRSA awarded a $1 million grant to ODU to more effectively help provide healthcare to underserved and rural populations. According to Carolyn Rutledge, Director of ODU’s DNP’s Advanced Practice Program, currently patients are often seen by a single provider, often a physician but not by a team of professionals.
To help stress teamwork in the medical profession, the HRSA grant will enable graduate students in ODU’s nurse practitioner, dental hygiene, physical therapy, and clinical counseling programs to be co-taught by faculty members from all four disciplines starting with the spring 2013 semester.
The three required courses will focus on health promotion, geriatrics, and leadership team-based care. The goal is for the students to understand what each discipline has to offer and then learn how to really work together as a team.
“Students will learn from each other’s expertise to improve patient outcomes,” Rutledge explained. “Since healthcare is a concern in caring for those in remote, rural regions, students will learn to function as interprofessional teams at a distance, using healthcare technology such as social media, telehealth, and EHRs. This will result in an innovative virtual patient-centered home.”