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MedaPhor Ltd is an established Cardiff University spin-out company which produces innovative training products for postgraduate medical professionals. MedaPhor has developed and launched a device which aims to address the shortfall in qualified sonographers through the novel application of cutting-edge computer game and animation technology to training methods.

Training methods for sonographers have always been expensive, time-consuming and dependent on the availability of patients and resources.  With a constant demand for highly skilled sonographers, MedaPhor identified the potential for a training system which was fast, effective and which did not need to be based in a clinical environment.
Mr Nazar Amso, School of Medicine; Prof Nick Avis, School of Computer Science; and Mr Stuart Gall, Fusion IP.
Fundamental to the success of this project was the multidisciplinary collaboration with two academic schools from Cardiff University. The Cardiff School of Medicine team initiated the concept for the simulator and designed its educational content to meet national ultrasound training curriculum requirements. A team from Cardiff School of Computer Science and Informatics worked closely with the company, learning human anatomy and ultrasound methodology along the way in order to develop a unique interactive system using the latest advances in simulation technology.    

The system created removes the need for inexperienced trainees to practice their skills in live patient sessions.  Instead, there is a hand-held device, similar to a computer game controller.  Depending on how it is manipulated, this generates ultrasound images from specific parts of the human body.  The virtual environment also allows tasks to be undertaken that closely resemble those carried out during live ultrasound sessions and provides users with immediate feedback on performance.    

To ensure that the product met the needs of medical practitioners, trainers and students, Cardiff School of Medicine academic staff and students undertook several evaluations at the development stage to establish its potential and fine tune the final product.  The role of simulation and feedback was highlighted in a small study whereby, in just 9 weeks, a medical student with little background knowledge in obstetrics and gynaecology successfully used a prototype system to learn the techniques required and then taught her peers to a satisfactory level of competency.   

The fully developed end product, called ScanTrainer, provides a fast, effective and sophisticated training solution.  The system is now key in MedaPhor’s product range, having received highly favourable feedback.  Official unveiling took place earlier this month at the British Society for Gynaecological Imaging annual scientific meeting and the product will be available in the UK from next month.  Routes are also being explored to making it available overseas.     

A second product, the Transabdominal Simulator, is already in the pipe-line with a launch expected later in the year.  The intention is to follow this with systems aimed at more general medical markets.  With virtual simulation an integral educational tool for Ultrasound Masters students at Cardiff School of Medicine, these new products will continue to benefit from MedaPhor’s access to unlimited case studies and to vital user feedback.   

The project was supported by grants from the Welsh Assembly Government SMART programme at different stages of the simulator development.   

Medaphor is a spinout company from Cardiff University by it's commercialisation partner Fusion IP.

In April 2010 the successful MedaPhor team was recognised with a special Impact Award by Cardiff University.

Further Information
MedaPhor Ltd
Fusion IP
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