Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
Hands-on Education: Shaken Baby Syndrome Simulator
Shaken Baby Syndrome Simulator by Realityworks is an instructional doll used in parenting classes.
It is a life-size baby with a see-through vinyl head filled with LED lights. The doll begins emitting a real infant’s cry, and the baby is shaken to simulate various stages of head trauma.
1. The back of the brain lights up. A baby would become visually impaired.
2. The front of the brain lights up. Additional injuries would cause loss of memory and emotion, and probably future behavioral disorders and learning disabilities.
3. The sides, front and back of the brain light up. The baby loses the ability to hear and talk, and may suffer partial or full paralysis, or death.
Accelerometers inside the head measure the force of the shaking. Eventually, the baby stops crying, simulating death.
If all of this sounds disturbing, well, that’s the point. The doll is used in an educational setting along with curriculum that teaches parents methods of coping with a crying baby. If the doll experience is shocking, maybe its point is getting across.
The National Institutes of Health defines Shaken Baby Syndrome as "a type of inflicted traumatic brain injury that
happens when a baby is violently shaken. A baby has weak neck muscles
and a large, heavy head. Shaking makes the fragile brain bounce back
and forth inside the skull and causes bruising, swelling, and bleeding,
which can lead to permanent, severe brain damage or death. The
characteristic injuries of shaken baby syndrome are subdural
hemorrhages (bleeding in the brain), retinal hemorrhages (bleeding in
the retina), damage to the spinal cord and neck, and fractures of the
ribs and bones. These injuries may not be immediately noticeable."
Statistics from Realityworks indicate that between 1,400 and 10,000 shaking cases occur each year in the US, with 25 percent of babies dying from their injuries. The rest have severe brain trauma.
Realityworks also makes a victim-of-substance-abuse doll, pregnancy simulator vest (those third-trimester vests dads get to wear), and a RealCare baby simulator doll used for teen pregnancy prevention education, among other audiences.