Brainwaves Research Moves into the Operating Room

Building effective interprofessional medical teams remains a top priority for OSF HealthCare and the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria through the training efforts taking place at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center. That means facilitators, faculty and clinicians from OSF HealthCare and UICOMP work together to develop courses tailored to team-based training.

While these hands-on simulations DO advance the skills of our medical professionals, Jump aims to take this work a step further by developing a rapid, reliable and valid assessment system for team performance.

“This system could help improve the way we structure medical education and simulation for learners,” said Ann Willemsen-Dunlap, Director, Interprofessional Education for Jump.

This project, called Team Neurodynamics, is a collaboration between Jump researchers and Dr. Ron Stevens and Trysha Galloway of The Learning Chameleon, along with Dr. Jamie Gorman, an expert in speech analysis from Georgia Tech. Since this work began in 2015, the group has been working to quantitatively model how teams cognitively organize in response to environmental and task changes. This has been achieved by capturing and studying the brainwaves of diverse sets of teams as they work through a simulated scenario.

“As a result, we have identified the physiologic neurodynamic markers of teamwork in new and expert surgical teams going through simulation,” said Don Halpin, Health Care Systems Engineer at Jump. “These markers help us see how teams operate together with and without disruptions.”

Team Neurodynamics has also validated the data against other types of teamwork analysis. The group recently took its research into a real operating room at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center.

Collecting Data in a Real Clinical Space

Working with a surgical team from the OSF HealthCare Illinois Neurological Institute, Team Neurodynamics outfitted two surgeons, an anesthesia provider and scrub nurse with electroencephalogram (EEG) monitors and collected their brainwaves as they completed a straightforward peroneal nerve dissection, a surgery that reduces the pressure on a nerve located in a person’s lower leg.

Although the case was uncomplicated, there were some significant problem-solving opportunities that will allow the research team to compare the neurodynamic signatures those moments created in the live OR with comparable moments in a simulated environment.

“That’s really exciting because we now have a whole new way of understanding how simulation training actually works,” said Willemsen-Dunlap. “If we can show similar neurodynamic signatures in simulation and in a live case, I can think of no better way to demonstrate the veracity of this type of training.”

The research team can also determine where training may need to be modified to produce the highest caliber clinician and team member upon graduation. The goal is to create better, standardized clinical education based on proven and measureable communication and other teamwork principles. 

Real-Time Data

The next step in this research is to continue collecting data in live clinical situations with the goal of making data available in real-time or near real-time. The idea is to equip interprofessional groups of clinical educators with data they can use as they work to train health care teams.

“There really won’t be an end to the data collections,” said Halpin. “We will continue to do them as part and parcel of this project because it adds depth to our understanding of the issues—all with the end game of improving patient safety through advanced teamwork.” 
Categories: Clinical Environment, Clinicians, Illinois Neurological Institute (INI), Interprofessional Education (IPE), Research, Research, Team Neurodynamics