Virtual FEES Training
Georgia Health Sciences University has created a wonderful free app for iPad called Upper Respiratory Virutal Lab (URVL). For medical SLPs and students, it is a very useful tool for those learning the anatomy involved in a FEES exam (flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing) without having to poke around too much inside the nose of a student, patient, or colleague.
The app includes instructions that prove to be quite useful as there are several gestures required to navigate. Most of the anatomy can be seen by dragging your finger around, but a double-tap moves forward, pinch out moves slowly forward, and a pinch backs you up. There is also a tutorial, but the app isn't so complicated that you can't just dive right in.
Enter the virtual nose, complete with a few hairs, when you touch "Begin Lab". Use the head graphic in the top left corner to orient yourself in space. Any time you see a double white circle (there are 34 of them!), you can touch it once to see the name of the anatomical structure appear, or double-tap it to bring up detailed information.
Make your way past the inferior turbinate past the uvula and down into the pharynx to visualize the larynx. Be sure to spin around and look up, something you can never do with an endoscope and patient! Lifelike color and texture bring the anatomy to life, and the added labels and descriptions teach you as you go. Even seasoned scopers will enjoy taking their time to explore the familiar sights.
My wish-list of added features includes animations of voice production and swallowing as well as the ability to travel into the oral cavity or beyond the glottis, but the app is quite useful as-is. For students learning dysphagia, clinicians gaining confidence in evaluations, or mentors offering support, this free download is a helpful addition to the app toolbox.