What Are “Serious Games,” and How Could They Improve Neonatal Resuscitation?

Medical professionals who care for newborns must know a great deal about managing neonatal breathing complications. They should be skilled at providing resuscitation, intubation, and other forms of respiratory assistance to infants that require it. Mismanagement of neonatal breathing complications can result in a variety of serious birth injuries, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pneumothorax, hypocarbia, apnea, hypoxia, acidosis, and even forms of permanent brain damage such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) and cerebral palsy (1). 

In some facilities, healthcare providers receive simulation-based education, which can help improve the cognitive, psychomotor, and communication skills that are needed to perform neonatal resuscitation. Unfortunately, this type of education is often expensive and not available in facilities with more limited resources. The current simulation-based education program for neonatal resuscitation requires specialized equipment, as well as manikins (anatomical models of the human body) and highly-trained instructors.

Person in scrubs walking down hall with incubator

Photo by Hush Naidoo on Unsplash

Simran K. Ghoman and colleagues from Alberta, Canada recently published an article discussing the potential of using other types of “serious games,” such as board and computer games that are made to improve neonatal resuscitation skills (2). They note that previous studies have shown that serious games improve decision-making skills in healthcare areas such as surgery, emergency medicine, and anaesthesiology, but less is known about how these games could benefit the field of neonatology. Therefore, they decided to review published literature on this topic. 

What types of games were included?

In their research, Ghoman and colleagues searched for studies on a variety of serious games, including the following:

  • Board games
  • Tabletop games
  • Video games
  • Screen-based simulators
  • Tabletop simulators
  • Virtual reality games

Which games improved knowledge? 

Two board games included in this study were found to improve knowledge of neonatal resuscitation. 

The REsuscitationTrAINing (RETAIN) game increased knowledge retention by 10%. In this game, participants must respond to scenarios from real-life neonatal resuscitations that occurred at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Alberta, Canada. They can perform interventions using a variety of “tools” and action cards.

Additionally, The Neonatology Game led to a 4.15 point increase in average test scores. This game is based on trivia. Up to four players can participate in this game. They must answer questions about neonatology; there are summary cards with detailed information about neonatal conditions, which can also help them learn more. 

The bottom line

Ghoman et al. note that incorporating serious games could improve healthcare professionals’ neonatal resuscitation skills in both resource-intensive and resource-limited areas. These games are not meant to replace more traditional forms of learning, but could be a useful supplement. They suggest that in future studies, researchers should compare outcomes from serious games, existing simulation-based education programs, and a combination of the two, in order to determine the best methods for reducing medical errors and improving outcomes.

About ABC Law Centers

ABC Law Centers was established to focus exclusively on birth injury cases. A “birth injury” is any type of harm to a baby that occurs just before, during, or after birth. This includes issues such as oxygen deprivation, infection, and trauma. While some children with birth injuries make a complete recovery, others develop disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

If a birth injury/subsequent disability could have been prevented with proper care, then it constitutes medical malpractice. Settlements from birth injury cases can cover the costs of lifelong treatment, care, and other crucial resources. 

If you believe you may have a birth injury case for your child, please contact us today to learn more. We are happy to talk to you free of any obligation or charge. In fact, clients pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win. 

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  1. Breathing Mismanagement of Newborns: Trusted Legal Help. (n.d.). Retrieved January 3, 2020, from https://www.abclawcenters.com/practice-areas/neonatal-birth-injuries/cerebral-palsy-rop-pvl-hie-and-breathing-mismanagement/.
  2. Ghoman, S. K., Patel, S. D., Cutumisu, M., von Hauff, P., Jeffery, T., Brown, M. R., & Schmölzer, G. M. (2020). Serious games, a game changer in teaching neonatal resuscitation? A review. Archives of Disease in Childhood-Fetal and Neonatal Edition, 105(1), 98-107.

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