Flynn, Jonathan, Goodwin, Peter, Hindle, Jacqueline and Martin, Lynn (2013) The development of a spinal simulator for physiotherapy. In: The 6th MMU Postgraduate Research Conference 2013 ‘A celebration of interdisciplinarity’, 19th October 2013, Manchester, UK. (Unpublished)

The proposed research is derived from a commonly encountered teaching problem in Physiotherapy practice, spinal palpation. Spinal palpation is an essential skill that all
physiotherapy students need to be able to perform safely and effectively. This skill is difficult to attain and success and competence usually follows years of supervised practice.
This research is focussed on the design, development and manufacture of a ‘haptic device’ which simulates palpation of a spine.
Physiotherapy students learn to appreciate how the human spine feels and moves when pressure is applied to it through the fingertips, thumbs and small bones in the hand. It is an
essential technique that all physiotherapists need to be able to do. An appreciation of how the spine responds to palpation is essential in forming an understanding of a patient’s
problems, however teaching this skill as an instructor to pre-registration and post registration physiotherapy students/professionals is a difficult concept. It involves precise handling
skills, cognitive appreciation and experiential practice. It is often time consuming for the teacher and currently it is difficult to check whether understanding has occurred. To date
nothing has been developed to address this problem. Within the literature there is little standardization of approach and no specific model for using spinal simulation when teaching
manual skills, that has been evaluated empirically.


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