Wii may soon make it very easy for people to learn CPR - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/25/10

Wii may soon make it very easy for people to learn CPR

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By Karin McCay| email

Edited by Kristin Beerman | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) –  About 250,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest.  When the heart stops beating, brain death occurs within four to six minutes, which is why CPR on the scene is so important.  Something new is coming to make it easier for anyone to learn CPR and feel comfortable using it in an emergency.

Some engineering students at the University of Alabama have a great idea that's already getting support from the American Heart Association. They're adapting Wii technology into a CPR training tool at home.  Dr. Greg Walcott says even professionals might find this helpful in developing the best technique for CPR.

"Not to put too fine a point on it, even professionals do it pretty miserably," said Dr. Walcott.  "People will go anywhere from 60 to 150 times a minute, and will go anywhere from half-an-inch, three-quarters of an inch, all the way to two-and-a-half, three inches deep."

Alabama engineering students have developed the software to receive real-time data from the Wii during CPR compression, in what will be an easy home training tool, using just a computer and the Wii remote. "So you can see here he's going around 1.7 inches, and the target rate is two inches, or one-and-a-half to two inches, so he's doing decent staying at 100 beats per minute," said Zach Clark.

A metronome helps guide the pace and the depth feedback guides the pressure. "Unless you've had previous practice, i don't think most people would know to push that hard," said James McKee. "It feels very uncomfortable actually to push two inches down on someone's chest."

The students have just one more hurdle to cross before they plan to market this, they're trying to find items around the home that could substitute for a mannequin during this home training.

"We've used anything from beach balls and footballs, that sort of thing," said Dr. Walcott.  "If you take a little bit of air out of them, they're about right."

The project is already getting some funding from the American Heart Association, and this new training game is expected to be ready for download sometime later this year, completely free of charge.

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