Simulating complicated human birth for research and training

Esther J. Kim, Robert H. Allen, Jason H. Yang, Mary K. McDonald, William Tam, Edith D. Gurewitsch

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We report on the design, testing and implementation of a novel birthing simulator developed specifically to research the delivery process and improve clinical training in uncommon but inevitable complicated human births. The simulator consists of a maternal model and an instrumented fetal model, used in conjunction with an existing force-sensing system and a data-acquisition system. The maternal model includes a bony, rotatable pelvis, flexible legs, and a uterine expulsive system. The fetal model, which can be delivered repeatedly through the maternal model, is instrumented with potentiometers to measure neck extension, rotation and flexion during delivery. Simulation of the brachial plexus within the model fetal neck allows measurement of stretch in those nerves at risk for injury during difficult deliveries. Wooden elements mimic the properties of neonatal bone and can break either spontaneously or purposely. Two methods for measuring clinician-applied force during simulated deliveries provide trainees with real-time assessment of their own traction force and allow researchers to correlate fetal neck motion and nerve stretch parameters with clinician-applied traction. Preliminary testing indicates the system is biofidelic for the final stages of the birthing process, and can be used for training and research in obstetrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2762-2766
Number of pages5
JournalAnnual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology - Proceedings
Volume26 IV
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
EventConference Proceedings - 26th Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBC 2004 - San Francisco, CA, United States
Duration: Sep 1 2004Sep 5 2004


  • Birth
  • Brachial plexus
  • Education
  • Injury prevention
  • Laboratory model
  • Mechanical simulation
  • Rotation
  • Shoulder dystocia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Signal Processing
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Health Informatics


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