Hologram mum helps midwives save lives 2019-01-11T11:14:00+01:00
research into medical technology

A hologram mum is helping trainee midwives cope with emergencies

A holographic mum-to-be is helping trainee midwives learn to cope with emergencies. Midwifery students are using Microsoft’s HoloLens technology – which allows you to see holographic images using a headset – as part of their training at Middlesex University.

The technology is being used to demonstrate problems that can occur during birth so that students can be familiar with them if they have to face them in real life. These include situations like shoulder dystocia (when the baby’s shoulder gets stuck during birth), cord prolapse (where the umbilical cord comes out too early) and breech deliveries.

HoloLens enables users not just to see in 3D, but also to walk around the objects and experience them as if they’re present in the same space. It doesn’t use wires or require a phone or PC connection, so the university’s midwifery students can walk freely around the hologram and study the position and movements of a foetus.

Sarah Chitongo, manager of the university’s clinical skills department, explained: “I’ve seen the extreme challenge that staff can have in managing obstetric emergencies. They are very frightening because they are very rare.

“But when you’ve been accustomed to a simulation with a realistic picture of what you’ll get within that clinical setting, being part of the team that can manage it effectively will hopefully reduce not only maternal mortalities but neonatal mortalities as well.”

HoloLens was launched in October 2017 and this is the first time it has been used in this way the UK – but it is also being used at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

Midwifery lecturer Donovan Jones explained: “First-year students come into the programme and within the first semester are going out and witnessing their first birth. They’re exposed to situations that have the potential to be confronting.

“Not only will this application introduce them to the realism of anatomy, but it bridges the gap between classroom and delivery suite to ensure cognitive resilience, which is going to make them perform better under pressure.

“The educator can pop on their HoloLens and project the imagery in front of the class as they walk through the simulation. Students can either immerse themselves fully with the headset or take the application home on their device to learn in their own time at their own pace.”


Microsoft and educational company Pearson announced at the start of 2018 that they had been collaborating on six educational apps using the HoloLens, in subjects including history, chemistry and maths.

The apps include HoloPatient, in which students are shown holograms of professional actors pretending to be ill so they can learn how to diagnose and treat them, HoloHistory, a museum simulation, HoloChemistry, a molecule-building program, and HoloMath, a 3D geometry and mathematics app. These could see education and teaching methods change dramatically, providing a more interactive way of learning.

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