Groundbreaking Research from Franklin Pierce Nursing Team

Jul 12, 2018

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Intubation Research

Nearly one in ten babies born in the U.S. requires some degree of intervention to take their first breaths. A tube may need to be inserted in the tiny airway within seconds or minutes of birth. This life-saving intubation procedure requires speed and precision - done wrong, it can cause life-threatening injury. Despite the delicacy of the procedure, there is little objective data available to guide healthcare professionals in practice or in training.

Dr. Paula McWilliam, Interim Director of Nursing at Franklin Pierce University, has assembled a research team and developed a prototype device to assist in the placement of this endotracheal tube in an infant’s airway. This device, the Sensor-Integrated Laryngoscope, measures the torque and force applied to insert the tube, and provides objective data to guide first responders and medical personnel in optimal technique.

On Tuesday, July 10, McWilliam's team tested the laryngoscope on a beta version of a new SimBaby manikin, made by Laerdal Medical of Norway. The SimBaby is a highly realistic infant simulator that allows clinicians to practice intubation and develop critical “muscle memory” for proper technique. “In newborns, every attempt to intubate doubles or triples the risk of infection,” says McWilliam. “The ultimate goal is to reduce errors and injury.”

Suzanne Shea, Director of Medical Emergency and Trauma at Laerdal Medical, brought the newly redesigned infant manikins to Franklin Pierce from Norway, seeking input from clinicians prior to manufacture. The manikins simulate breathing and circulation patterns under a variety of circumstances, movement, heart and lung sounds, and skin color changes. Shea sees potential for future collaboration with the FPU Nursing team in developing virtual reality tools to aid in teaching and practice.

McWilliam has partnered with Louis Halamek, MD and Professor, Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine at Stanford University, and a team of faculty from the College of Engineering and Physical Science at University of New Hampshire, to design and prototype the laryngoscope.

McWilliam’s research is supported by New Hampshire INBRE (IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence), a program funded by the National Institutes of Health to develop a coordinated network of biomedical research and research training in New Hampshire. This project is a collaboration with  the NH INBRE lead institution, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and several partner institutions including Franklin Pierce.

The Franklin Pierce University research team includes Narra Martineau, Instructor in the Department of Nursing, Nancy Kent, Adjunct Professor and statistician in the Department of Nursing, and nursing students Rayann Gionet and Paige Kennedy. In September 2018, Jennifer Parent-Nichols, Assistant Professor in the Franklin Pierce Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and DPT students Julia Perez and Brittany McFerrell, will participate in the next phase of research which will include the ergonomics of the procedure.

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