Review of the Practi-Man Plus Manikins

Executive summary

The Practi-Man range is a step up from ‘dumb’ manikins and the adult / child mode is a space / time / £ saver. The 1-way valve system is the hygienic way forwards for CPR training. The lack of breath monitoring and basic display are a disappointment. Its light weight and dual adult/child support is a definite plus. With a couple of other features added it could be a really good piece of kit.


Since Asmund Laerdal invented the Resus Anne the basic concept has not changed very much. Provide a set of artificial lungs for the rescuer to practice breaths and a compressible chest to practice compressions. There have been some advances to make them more realistic and the removal of latex (if there was any) from the materials to remove the risk of allergies.

Sure, at the top end there are some very realistic all-singing, all-dancing manikins used for advanced healthcare training if you have the odd £30,000 + vat to drop

For mere mortal First Aid training Companies, manikins are designed to a price, with adult manikins around the £200-500 new and essentially are a plastic inflatable bag and a strong spring wrapped in a torso.

Technology is starting to creep into this arena. I remember back in the 1990s the Red Cross centre that I was part of purchased a Laerdal Skillmeter. It was a full-body torso (OK, so the legs were somewhat foamy) but it also had electronic measurement of breaths and compressions and a LCD screen to show the results as well as a printer. Amazing tech for the time, but also about £1000 in 1990.

Since then entry level manikins haven’t moved on much. 25 years later I have a collection of ‘regular’ Laerdal manikins. Laerdal has introduced its QCPR range along with an App. As someone who, shall we say, doesn’t fully embrace Apple and its products this route has been limited as the App was only initially available on iOS. That has been remedied a bit but, at the time of writing, the Classroom App is still not available on Android.

Upgrading – what is currently on the market?

The time has come to upgrade my ageing family of manikins and to cut a long story short I have chosen the Practi-Man Plus range supplied to me by ProTrainings.

The factors that swung it for me were:

  • Combined Adult / Junior in one torso. Less to carry, less to store
  • One-way valve system to prevent expired air recirculating leading to better hygiene and simpler cleaning procedures
  • Electronic feedback of activity. This does add something to classes and introduces an element of friendly competition

To start with I have ordered 3x Adult / junior Plus and 3x baby Plus. The intention is to have a play, get some feedback and decide whether to go with Practi-Man across the board.

Each manikin needs a moderate amount of assembly which took about 10 minutes with no hidden surprises.

There are anecdotal issues about the heads falling off the torso with sudden movements. I have witnessed one incident myself. It looks like Practiman has addressed this issue as there was a solid pair of clips that hold the head to the torso. It makes the manikin look a bit like Frankenstein’s monster but it does feel that those heads are not coming away any time soon.

A bit more unpacking and battery fitting to both the manikin and the controller and they are all ready to go. There is a separate wheeled trolley that will take some (but not all) of the 6 manikins. More trolleys may be purchased.

Device pairing

Pairing the controllers was as easy as switching them on, then pushing down on the manikin chest until a beep was heard.

Adult / child mode

Switching between adult and child on the non-plus versions was by a dial at the back. That position is now occupied by the battery compartment and there is an adult / child switch on the controller instead.

Once paired you are ready to go. The controller monitors speed and depth of the compressions. There is a green LED for Good and two red LEDs for too much / little or too fast / slow. I was disappointed to find that breaths are not part of the monitoring and feel that this is a big omission. Laerdal managed this in the 1990s with the Skillmeter and manages it now with the QCPR manikins. Practi-Man is missing a trick there.

Apart from that, the torsos have a nice, positive feel to them. The noses feel more realistic compared to my old Annies, however I did find it harder to pinch the nose completely. I may need a bit more practice.

Once you stop for at least 10 seconds the controller will then feedback how well you did on a fairly crude LED bar. The units do tend to auto shut off a bit quickly so it would be nicer if that time was longer.

There is a ‘blind’ mode where you don’t see how good your compressions are until feedback at the end.

Hygiene and cleaning

Cleaning is a case of removing the face and mouthpiece, then cleaning with appropriate agents. Once dried they just clip back into place. If you want to share during a class, you will want to buy more faces (it does come with two mouthpieces and spare lungs).

The instructions are a bit vague about when to change lungs. Not many are supplied and you can only buy them in packs of 4 (baby) or 5 (adult/junior). I think the expectation is that they are not supposed (or needed) to be replaced regularly due to the one-way valve system. This prevents cross-contamination between students and the spares are for longer term damage / wear & tear. As long as faces & valves are changed and that each student has their own faceshield during training this should be sufficiently hygienic.

Conclusion.

Positives

  • Nice pieces of kit, lighter and smaller than regular Laerdal manikins
  • Adult / child modes means less storage and/or transportation requirements
  • 1-way valve system is the way to go in cutting down waste and cross-contamination risks

Negatives

  • No feedback for breaths
  • Crude feedback for compressions – it wouldn’t take much to create a decent % result and perhaps link into an App or a Display for the Trainer to monitor several students
  • Tacky sticky label on the baby controller – the writing is printed on the adult one
  • Power-off after use is too quick

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