Context: With the advent of increasingly accessible three-dimensional (3D) printing, the possibility to efficiently design and generate prototype innovations is also increasing. This type of manufacturing can potentially enhance medical education by allowing design of models specific to osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM).
Objectives: To determine the viability of a 3D-printed mechanically moveable rib cage in enhancing the teaching of rib osteopathic principles.
Methods: A single-blind, qualitative study was conducted to evaluate the use of educating students with this novel 3D-printed, movable rib model vs. a traditional static rib model. A total of 237 first-year medical students participated in the study and received the same standardized lecture on the rib dysfunction. Students were also assigned at random to either a comparison group, which would utilize the 3D printed rib model, or the control group, which would utilize the traditional static model. Students would also complete an entrance and exit surveys assessing subjective scores of overall student satisfaction and objective scores for knowledge of OMM rib dysfunction and treatment. An independent samples t-test was applied to assess potential differences between select student evaluation scores (those with continuous variables) of the rib model in the comparison and experiment groups. Chi-square goodness of fit test was conducted to determine if there were any significant differences in entry and exit survey responses between the two groups. Descriptive statistics of the mean and standard deviation were also reported.
Results: For both comparison and control groups, the mean score on an 11-point scale for the evaluation question, “Please rank on a scale of 0–10 how helpful you thought the rib models were to your education,” was 9.08 (SD, 1.397). Independent t-test results showed that the comparison group had higher scores than the control group when queried about whether they felt the model accurately depicted the material presented (comparison group mean, 9.55 [SD, 978] vs. control group mean, 9.06 [SD, 1.33; t(235) = 3.253; p=0.01). Chi-square test of goodness-of-fit showed that the differences between the number of correct answers chosen by participants for Item 3 (a case-based question asking students which rib they would treat for a patient presenting to an OMT clinic) was statistically significantly higher for the comparison group (51.9% correct in comparison group vs. 48.1% in control group), even though both groups scored similarly on this item during the entry survey.
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that utilizing 3D printing to demonstrate somatic dysfunctions of the rib cage may improve understanding and student satisfaction for diagnosis and treatment.