Female Manikin research
The U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, is a leader in the development of several female medical manikin technologies. DEVCOM SC researchers are developing and evaluating female trauma simulations to better prepare medical personnel to meet the needs of female warfighters. Studies have shown that practicing on female manikins increases comfort level among medics and other personnel treating women. Training using female manikins also increases awareness about differences between female and male anatomy and how those differences may affect injuries and treatment. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

NATICK, Mass. – Researchers at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center, or DEVCOM SC, are developing and evaluating female trauma simulations to better prepare medical personnel to meet the needs of female warfighters.

Approximately one in five Soldiers are women, and the roles of women Soldiers are continuously expanding. As a result, the need for research and training using female manikins has increased.

“Opening combat roles to females has increased the need for manikins that replicate females,” said William Pike, Ph.D., an electronics engineer at DEVCOM SC’s site in Orlando, Florida.

Female trauma manikins are needed for medical training. Studies have shown that practicing on female manikins increases comfort level among medics and other personnel treating women. Training using female manikins also increases awareness about the differences between female and male anatomy and how those differences may affect injuries and treatment.

“DEVCOM SC has been a leader in the development of several female manikin technologies,” said Douglas Tamilio, director of DEVCOM SC. “To better prepare medical personnel to treat female warfighters, female manikins are needed for medical training. Our ongoing work in advancing female trauma simulation and training research is part of our commitment to ensuring all warfighters are protected, optimized and lethal.”

Prior to DEVCOM SC’s research and development work, the Army had not fielded any female medical manikins.

Mark Mazzeo, an industrial engineer at DEVCOM SC’s site in Orlando, Florida, said that when this work began, researchers “envisioned a low-cost solution, a high-fidelity solution, and a virtual female patient.”

“The first capability developed was a retrofit kit which turned a male-centric manikin into a fairly believable female,” explained Pike.

“We quickly developed and tested the retrofit kit as the low-cost solution, which introduced realistic female anatomy using the Army’s existing manikin inventory with an overlay,” said Mazzeo. “This solution quickly filled a critical training need while research and development continued for the other approaches.”

Mazzeo explained that the second approach, the high-fidelity manikin, took more time to develop and test. The high-fidelity manikin focuses on severe trauma simulation.

“It is the full female equivalent of the Army’s existing male-centric human patient simulators,” said Mazzeo. “It bleeds, breathes, and if not treated in a timely fashion, it ‘dies.’ These functions support Tactical Combat Casualty Care training. This solution delivered a full training capability, built from the ground up to be a female — not just converting or redesigning a male manikin.”

A third approach involved utilizing an open-architecture, government-supported development platform. Mazzeo explained that the virtual female patient is connected to a “physical manikin built using a modular platform, which uses an open-source physiology engine, validated in multiple studies by physicians, to realistically simulate patient state over time.”

“With this system, treatments performed on the physical manikin affect the virtual patient, and treatments performed on the virtual patient affect the physical manikin,” said Conner Parsey, a mechanical engineer at DEVCOM SC’s site in Orlando, Florida. “This approach allows blended live and virtual scenarios, rather than relying on just the physical manikins.”

DEVCOM SC’s work with female manikins and retrofit kits has also included multiple usability studies. DEVCOM SC carried out the studies with the support of Product Manager Medical Simulation, or PdM MedSim, part of Program Executive Office Simulation, Training and Instrumentation, or PEO STRI. The manikins and retrofit kits were developed by teams of small business partners and university partners. Pike said that these studies were important as they marked the “first time Soldiers were able to train on a simulated female casualty.”

Collaboration, as well as mentoring, plays an important role in DEVCOM SC’s female manikin research.

“For three years, we mentored West Point Engineering Psychology cadets on their senior capstone project, which involved different aspects of the female trauma research effort,” said Pike. “We have also visited the final field exercise that Army Combat Medics go through in their Advanced Individual Training. We learned a lot about how Prolonged Casualty Care will be different for female casualties compared to male.”

A United States Military Academy at West Point team advised by Pike and Mazzeo, along with Dr. Ericka Rovira and Dr. Robert Thomson, received the prestigious Scott R. Clark Award for Best Capstone Project for 2022. The project, by Cadet Heather Graham and Cadet Dominique Shultz, was entitled “Performance Difference in Male versus Female Training Using Tactical Combat Casualty Care on Gender-Specific Manikins.”

DEVCOM SC’s Medical Simulation Research branch also received the prestigious Army Modeling and Simulation Office Award in 2022 for its continuous work advancing female trauma simulation and training research since 2015.

The award-winning USMA West Point cadets will carry the knowledge learned from their manikin project into their careers.

“One of the West Point cadets we mentored for her capstone project in the 2021-22 academic year probably said it best,” said Pike. “When she becomes a platoon leader, she plans to tell her platoon members that if she is ever injured in combat, she wants to be considered an American Soldier first, female second. If we can get junior medics to overcome any issues with doing what they must do to properly treat injured females by treating manikins, we will have succeeded.”

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About DEVCOM Soldier Center: The DEVCOM Soldier Center is committed to discovering, developing, and advancing science and technology solutions that ensure America’s warfighters are optimized, protected, and lethal. DEVCOM Soldier Center supports all of the Army's Modernization efforts, with the Soldier Lethality and Synthetic Training Environment Cross Functional Teams being the DEVCOM Soldier Center’s chief areas of focus. The center’s science and engineering expertise are combined with collaborations with industry, DOD, and academia to advance Soldier and squad performance. The center supports the Army as it transforms from being adaptive to driving innovation to support a Multi-Domain Operations Capable Force of 2028 and a MDO Ready Force of 2035. DEVCOM Soldier Center is constantly working to strengthen Soldiers’ performance to increase readiness and support for warfighters who are organized, trained, and equipped for prompt and sustainable ground combat.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) outreach and mentoring the next generation of scientists and engineers are also an important part of the mission of DEVCOM Soldier Center. The mentoring of students by Army scientists and engineers benefits the students and their communities. It also increases young people's awareness of potential Army job opportunities and helps provide the Army with potential new talent, helping to fuel innovative ideas that benefit the nation's warfighters and the nation as a whole.

DEVCOM Soldier Center is part of DEVCOM. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, DEVCOM leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. DEVCOM is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.