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R. A. Alvarez, J. I. Loewenstein; ROP Trainer. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2010;51(13):5927.
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Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is the leading cause of preventable blindness in premature infants. ROP is a disease of the vessels of the retina that occurs in a baby that is born prematurely. Timely treatment can decrease the rate of unfavorable outcome from 48% to 9%.The main problem with ROP is diagnosis. It is not easy to do a proper screening and diagnosis of ROP. There is a shortage of specialized ophthalmologists in this field and not every child who is at risk of developing ROP can be screened. This is due in part to the fact that very few ophthalmology residency programs provide this specialized training.Our purpose is to develop a computer based cognitive simulation to teach Ophthalmology Residents and Retinal Fellows how to diagnose and stage ROP.
Our approach is a computer based "immersion story" method, where learners are placed in realistic settings and asked to perform authentic tasks. Learners naturally make errors, and this method provides "just in time" feedback in the form of videos containing stories or advice from experts. A "help and reference" section can be accessed at any time, and provides content relevant to the current task or case.
We conducted videotaped interviews of ROP experts. We edited videos into short "clips" that each illustrates a teaching point. A prototype of the computer program uses these clips as well as video clips of examination techniques, video clips of the fundus during indirect ophthalmoscopic examination, and wide angle fundus photographs of different stages of ROP to produce a realistic simulation. Students work their way through cases to learn screening criteria, screening and follow up protocols, ROP stages, and indications for treatment. The program emphasizes variations that may be encountered in the appearance of various stages of ROP, rather than the one "perfect example" of a given stage.
The ROP trainer is a novel tool that allows virtual training in a field where the clinical training is difficult, scarce or absent in many locations.
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