3D models advance BCIT’s perinatal program

A fetus modelled in 3D. Photo by Scott McAlpine, June 2013.

A fetus modelled in 3D. Photo by Scott McAlpine, June 2013.

Motivated by the BCIT Critical Care program’s three-dimensional heart, the Perinatal Nursing program welcomed a new piece of 3D technology, this time in the form of a pelvis and fetus.

The idea came to Perinatal Nursing instructor Nancy Hewer after seeing 3D technology in another BCIT program classroom. She thought having a 3D pelvis and fetus for her distance education students would be an easier way to learn the cardinal movements – the position of the fetal head as the fetus travels through the birth canal.

Hewer assembled a team from CUBE, BCIT’s simulation lab, and together they created a way for students in the classroom and at home to interact with a three-dimensional simulation.

“An important concept [students] need to understand is how the fetus moves down through the maternal pelvis,” explained Hewer, “because that informs what adjustments they do for the woman and what care they provide for the woman in labour and what position they put her in.”

The 3D Model Group, from left to right: Vienna Ly, Multimedia Developer, Perinatal Nursing instructor Nancy Hewer, Instructional Development Consultant Michelle Kearns, Technical Illustrator/Graphic Artist, Alistair Boakes and Jason Yu, 3D Modeller. Photo by Scott McAlpine.

The 3D Model Group, from left to right: Vienna Ly, Multimedia Developer, Perinatal Nursing instructor Nancy Hewer, Instructional Development Consultant Michelle Kearns, Technical Illustrator/Graphic Artist, Alistair Boakes and Jason Yu, 3D Modeller. Photo by Scott McAlpine.

Hewer told The Link she would demonstrate the cardinal movements with a doll and a model pelvis in class, but added this did not work for distance education students.

Distance Education students had to depend on reading about the cardinal movements from a textbook, meaning they often got lost in the wording, explained Hewer.

“They can click on and there’s audio and video where they can see the 3D fetus moving through the pelvis and audio to explain the movements,”  she said, before explaining that by rotating or moving the woman’s pelvis, the model shows how those actions affect the fetus.

The Link caught up with Perinatal CTF student Anna Pawlak to see what she thought about the new 3D technology.

“It was really life sized and well done,” she said. “It definitely helped the nine different positions of the baby turning stick in my head.”

After using the technology, Pawlak did have a few additions she would like to see made to the model.

“It would have helped if there was more anatomy there, like legs,” said Pawlak. She explained it was hard to see the position the mom was in since there was only a pelvis and fetus in the model.

Plans are in the works to continue building on this technology, according to Hewer who hopes to include other birthing scenarios.

“Initially we just wanted to show normal,” Hewer explained.

Hewer’s next step is to add more challenging variations to the model so that students can use it to see how to move the woman’s body if the fetus is breach, for example.

“BCIT thinks it’s fantastic that this type of leading edge technology will help perinatal and delivery nurses with delivering babies across BC,” said Dave Pinton, BCIT’s Media Relations Coordinator. “We’re very happy to be assisting the Perinatal nursing specialty.”

Come November, Hewer will present the technology at the National Nursing Conference, which is bound to garner wider interest. Hewer said she sees the opportunity of having this model available in hospitals on nurses’ iPads to show labouring women the affect their body has on their baby.

Hewer said working on the project was a lot of fun.

“The development was a collaborative process with lots of very creative people,” Hewer told The Link. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the people at the CUBE.”

There was no answer as to how much it cost to develop the technology and Hewer could not answer how much the model could cost.