Simulations to Enhance Audiology Education

Simulations have always been utilised to support teaching on the BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology) course here at the University of Leeds, including for example the use of mannequin heads for otoscopy skill development and human simulated patients for developing communication skills.

The reported benefits of simulations include providing a safe space for practicing clinical skills, enhancing empathy and ultimately providing better services. 

Over the last year significant investment has been made to broaden our use of simulations to enhance learning and teaching.  Specific examples include the purchase and use of tinnitus and hand-tremor simulators and age-simulation suits.  The age simulation suit GERT is a state-of-the-art simulation package which offers the opportunity for our students to experience the sensory and mobility impairments experienced by older people. 

The routine client demographic for audiology is older individuals who present with age-related hearing loss and/or balance problems.  These individuals often report other age-related impairments, including visual and dexterity problems, which can negatively impact on hearing rehabilitation, specifically the fitting and effective use of a hearing aid. 

The age-related impairments that the GERT suit simulates include visual impairments, high-frequency hearing loss, head mobility restriction, joint stiffness, loss of strength, reduced grip ability and reduced coordination skills.

Dr Ruth Brooke, Programme Lead – BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology)

These suits have been utilised within practical teaching sessions and workshops in 2018 to increase the awareness of our students regarding the difficulties experienced by their clients to enable them to empathise and ultimately facilitate them in delivering a client-focused, effective service.  Funds have recently been obtained to formally evaluate the effectiveness of these simulations in achieving these aims so that if considered useful, their use can be more widely rolled out.