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Media Room - Press Releases - 2006

Leading medical institutions to test Pulse!! Virtual Clinical Learning Lab developed by BreakAway and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Three prestigious medical institutions have agreed to serve as test sites for Pulse!! The Virtual Clinical Learning Lab being developed by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

In development since March 2005, a pre-release version of Pulse!! will begin testing in January at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn.; The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md.; and the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Pulse!!, a collaboration of A&M-Corpus Christi and commercial game developer BreakAway Ltd. of Hunt Valley, Md., is a high-fidelity, computer-based learning platform designed to train physicians, medical students and allied personnel in virtual space at no risk to actual patients.

Pulse!! is a modeling and simulation research project overseen by teams of medical experts across the United States. Dr. Claudia L. Johnston, Associate Vice President for Special Projects at A&M-Corpus Christi, is the originator of and principal investigator for Pulse!!

"The work undertaken by the Pulse!! project's highly-skilled team puts A&M-Corpus Christi further on the technology map because of the ingenuity exercised in developing top-flight methods for medical training," said Dr. Flavius Killebrew, President of A&M-Corpus Christi. "The collaborative efforts on both the project's creation and testing support our academic and research strengths."

The project is funded through the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and has been strongly supported through the congressional budget process by U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Funding to date is almost $10 million.

"This ground-breaking venture is a pioneering moment in our history, bringing together military, state and federal government entities, academia and the private sector to develop innovative game-based technologies with an extraordinary magnitude and level of realism to educate medical personnel and improve the quality of health care," Ortiz said.

"Pulse!! offers an opportunity to change how military physicians learn to treat injuries from the battlefield to the home front," Ortiz said. "It could, more broadly, change the future face of medical education in our country."

The congressman said it was a "breakout moment for this national program."

"I am proud of my role in making this project possible, and I am extremely proud of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for their tenacity, creativity and extraordinary achievement in modern medical science," Ortiz said.

The Pulse!! concept has captured the attention of U.S. military officials as a way to train medical personnel quickly and effectively in the intensive care of battle wounds, which continuously evolve with weapons systems and frontline medical techniques.

"Pulse!! represents the future of Department of Defense and medical simulation, combining the best of entertainment and training technologies to create realistic medical environments that evoke the stress and emotion found in the operational environment," said Cmdr. Russell Shilling, a psychologist with the Naval Warrior Applications Division of ONR.

Cmdr. James R Dunne, chief of trauma/surgical critical care at the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, said he was eager to employ the Pulse!! platform.

"I am very excited to be a part of this project because I can see the tremendous potential it has for just-in-time training as well as sustainment training, in regards to combat casualty care," Dunne said. Pulse!! will begin testing in January with about 300 medical students, residents and physicians at Yale, Johns Hopkins and the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda. BreakAway, meanwhile, will assess the platform's stability and performance with about 350 people.

"The Pulse!! project represents an important convergence of gaming technology, educational theory and clinical need," said Dr. Kirk Shelley, associate professor of anesthesiology and medical director of ambulatory surgery at Yale.

"The increasing complexity of the critical-care environment mandates that we find innovative ways to rapidly train health care providers," Shelley said. "I am thrilled about being a part of this remarkable project."

Dr. Eric V. Jackson Jr., director of the Center for Immersive Simulation and Telemedicine at Johns Hopkins, said Pulse!! dovetails with the center's goals.

"The Johns Hopkins Simulation Center and the Center for Immersive Simulation and Telemedicine are dedicated to advancing the fields of medical education and patient safety and believe that the Pulse!! project represents an exciting innovation that can truly contribute to both," Jackson said.

The Pulse!! project is a trailblazing collaboration, said Doug Whatley, founder and CEO of BreakAway Ltd.

"We're thrilled to be collaborating with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and these esteemed institutions to validate the tools and technologies for this first-ever virtual learning environment," Whatley said.

"It's a significant milestone in the development of Pulse!! to partner with Johns Hopkins and Yale universities and the National Naval Medical Center," Whatley said.

"We look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the many distinct advantages that Pulse!! will provide to our medical and military health professionals," Whatley said.

Johnston said Pulse!! development has reached an exciting stage.

"It's gratifying to me, personally and professionally, that these institutions have expressed such great confidence in the development of the Pulse!! learning platform," Johnston said.

"It's our hope, at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, that Pulse!! technology will become a key component in medical education and training and be of service to the nation's military and future generations of health-care professionals," Johnston said.

I’ve been saying all my life that games have the power to change the world. We’re proving that every day at BreakAway.

: Doug Whatley, Founder and CEO

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