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Serious Games Help Players Master Lifesaving CPR Skills

Image credit: AppClinic - Saving Lives!

AppClinic - Saving Lives!, a Serious Game developed by Filament Games, in collaboration with Adtalem Global Education and its Ross University School of Medicine, has won gold honors in the 2018 International Serious Play Awards competition in the Healthcare category.

Aligned to American Heart Association Guidelines for CPR and resuscitation procedures, the Serious Game helps players practice basic life support skill sets by administering CPR to a patient in a simulated emergency scenario.

Aimed at EMS, medical, nursing and allied health students and professionals, the mobile game is available on the App Store

Research Foundation

Dr. Eric B. Bauman, PhD, FSSH, RN, Assistant Dean for Technology Development at Adtalem Global Education’s Innovation Team, worked with a talented group of subject matter experts and designers to bring this game to life. Saving Lives! was envisioned by Ross University School of Medicine alum Dr. Michael Nemirovsky where it served as his capstone research project during his patient safety fellowship, in which he was mentored by both Dr. Bauman and Lisa Buckley, PA-C from Ross University School of Medicine.

Learn more about the research foundation behind AppClinic - Saving Lives! by reading their abstract below.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life saving skill and the foundation of basic life support (BLS). The skill must be mastered by a broad range of healthcare providers and first responders including police, firefighters, lifeguards, coaches, EMT’s, nurses and physicians. Of the skills tested during CPR/BLS training, effective chest compressions are considered one of the most important factors in achieving the return of spontaneous circulation. That being said, learners often achieve low scores in BLS chest compression skill demonstration. Although CPR/BLS recognition is a mandatory job requirement for many of these professions, regular deliberate practice is rarely performed, and CPR competency is poorly retained.

Game-based learning may be ideal for continuing health professions education because it can provide a cost effective tool that promotes anytime and anywhere learning man. A review of the available digital mobile applications and games yielded a paucity of computer based games available to support for BLS education that were consistent with current American Heart Association (AHA) guidelines for proper rate of chest compression, depth of compression and recoil.

Saving Lives! is a tablet-based application that provides learners with just-in-time feedback in an authentic situated game where the patient status changes based on player performance associated with best practices in CPR. By providing on demand practice, learners are able to practice BLS/CPR skills more frequently than through the use of traditional manikin based continuing education. This sort of access to formative and summative feedback through game-based learning may improve key competencies related to best practices in CPR.

Gameplay and Game Design

In the game, players internalize the compression rate and proper procedure for CPR, receiving contextualized, just-in-time feedback as patient status changes based on their performance. Players also gain experience using an automated external defibrillator (AED) to resuscitate unresponsive patients.

Image credit: AppClinic - Saving Lives!

In an interview earlier this year to Filament Games Blog titled Designing Games & Saving Lives!, Matt Haselton, Game Designer at Filament Games and lead designer on Saving Lives! explained why CPR practice is particularly well-suited for a mobile/digital learning game experience.

Here are the extracts:

“Conventional CPR training is labor and time intensive - a traditional setup includes instructors, dummies, a classroom setting. For an individual looking to be CPR certified, it’s important to stay well-practiced, as CPR certifications have to be renewed frequently, usually on a yearly basis. Practitioners have an easy, turnkey way to keep their certification skills in shape before they need to be assessed.”

“The game walks you through the entire resuscitation process step by step - you check the victim, you clear the scene, you check their breathing, you call for help, administer AED, and so on. It contextualizes each individual practice within a simulated emergency scenario. Because of the limitations of a touch-based mobile device, learning outcomes like hand positioning and depth of compression are represented through the game’s aesthetics, rather than actually embodied by player input. That said, the game is an incredible tool for embodying CPR rhythm, refining that internal metronome, because getting the feel of the optimal rate of 120 BPM is a sense you have to develop.”

“Another interesting element of the game is that even if you deliver on 100% of the best practices for resuscitation, you can still lose the patient - this mirrors the statistic probabilities we encounter in real life. Naturally, the game still provides feedback on the quality of your techniques, but sometimes a patient simply cannot be recovered, and that’s an important learning for this practice as well.”

Saving Lives! is a core title in the AppClinic Series, a collection of digital apps and Serious Games that enable students and professionals in the medical, healthcare and veterinary industries to study, develop, and practice their skills.

As an example, the AppClinic VR collection brings key medical, allied, and veterinary content areas to life in stunning, immersive virtual reality. 

Images credit: AppClinic - Airway Clinic VR
This suite of interactive scenarios gives medical and allied healthcare professionals a virtual environment to practice their respiratory intervention skills. Through simulated patient interactions, basic and advanced airway adjunct placement, medication administration, defibrillation, IV management, and more, learners gain comprehensive lab experience with real-time feedback to validate or correct their treatments.

To learn more about the mobile app collection, visit