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Skill Transference of a Probe-Tube Placement Training Simulator

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Background: Probe-tube placement is a necessary step in hearing aid verification which needs ample hands-on experience and confidence before performing in clinic. To improve the methods of training in probe-tube placement, a manikin-based training simulator was developed consisting of a 3D-printed head, a flexible silicone ear, and a mounted optical tracking system. The system is designed to provide feedback to the user on the depth and orientation of the probe tube, and the time required to finish the task. Although a previous validation study was performed to determine its realism and teachability with experts, further validation is required before implementation into educational settings.
Purpose: This study aimed to examine the skill transference of a newly updated probe-tube placement training simulator to determine if skills learned on this simulator successfully translate to clinical scenarios.
Research Design: All participants underwent a pretest in which they were evaluated while performing a probe-tube placement and real-ear-to-coupler difference (RECD) measurement on a volunteer. Participants were randomized into one of two groups: the simulator group or the control group. During a two-week training period, all participants practiced their probe-tube placement according to their randomly assigned group. After two weeks, each participant completed a probe-tube placement on the same volunteer as a post-test scenario.
Study Sample: Twenty-five novice graduate-level student clinicians.
Data Collection and Analysis: Participants completed a self-efficacy questionnaire and an expert observer completed a questionnaire evaluating each participant’s performance during the pre- and post-test sessions. RECD measurements were taken after placing the probe tube and foam tip in the volunteer’s ear. Questionnaire results were analyzed through nonparametric t-tests and analysis of variance, whereas RECD results were analyzed using a nonlinear mixed model method.
Results: Results suggested students in the simulator group were less likely to contact the tympanic membrane when placing a probe tube, appeared more confident, and had better use of the occluding foam tip, resulting in more improved RECD measurements.
Conclusions: The improved outcomes for trainees in the simulator group suggest that supplementing traditional training with the simulator provides useful benefits for the trainees, thereby encouraging its usage and implementation in educational settings.
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Keywords: education; hearing aids; probe-tube placement; real ear; simulation; skill transference; training

Affiliations: 1: School of Biomedical Engineering, Western University, London, ON, Canada 2: School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Western University, London, ON, Canada 3: National Centre for Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada 4: School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Western University, London, ON, Canada, and National Centre for Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada 5: Cimetrix Solutions Inc., Oshawa, ON, Canada 6: School of Biomedical Engineering, Western University, London, ON, Canada, National Centre for Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada, Department of Medical Biophysics, Western University, London, ON, Canada, Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, Western University, London, ON, Canada, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Western University, London, ON, Canada 7: School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Western University, London, ON, Canada and National Centre for Audiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Western University, London, ON, Canada

Appeared or available online: July 2, 2019

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