Friday, February 27, 2015

Simulation history and pocket phantoms, oh my!

Recently, we hosted a visit from a medical illustrator and graphic designer who is collaborating with us on a planned display on simulation in medical education history (which is to say, using anatomical models, manikins, virtual tools, and other stand-ins to educate students before turning them loose to practice on patients). One of the materials we pulled for visual inspiration and sources was an English edition of a 19th century obstetrics text, Dr. K Shibata's Geburtschülfliche Taschen-Phantom, (Obstetrical Pocket-Phantom), 1895. 

The pocket phantom text was first published in German before English and Japanese translations appeared. In the reprinted preface to the first (German) edition, the publisher notes that Shibata's phantoms sought to provide a portable, economical alternative to previous manikins or models for students learning obstetrics practices. 

The pocket phantom consists of two movable paper baby manikins and one paper two-layer manikin of a female pelvis through which the babies can pass. The mechanisms of labor, right at the fingertips of any in-the-know medical student!


As a "Call the Midwife" fan, I couldn't help try my hand at a breech birth...

Good thing I'm not a nurse-midwifery student!
As a funny coincidence, while conducting research for our upcoming summer exhibit on rare ophthalmology texts, Head of Historical Collections Maija Anderson came across this advertisement for the German first edition of the Geburtschülfliche Taschen-Phantom in this 1895 German ophthalmology handbook, Atlas Der Ophthalmoskopie, by Otto Haab. Clearly it's a must-have for the 1895 medical student set!

Did this post turn you into a fanatic for phantoms? (of the medical simulation kind...) You can make an appointment to see the Shibata text by sending me a message at or calling 503-494-5587. 

Further reading on simulation history: 

Owen, Harry, and Marco A. Pelosi. "A historical examination of the Budin-Pinard phantom: what can contemporary obstetrics education learn from simulators of the past?." Academic Medicine 88, no. 5 (2013): 652-656.

Owen, Harry. "Early use of simulation in medical education." Simulation in Healthcare 7, no. 2 (2012): 102-116.

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