Implantable contraceptive devices are inserted into a woman's arm to delay conception for three to five years. It can later be removed at any time to restore fertility. The implants require a well trained professional to inject them under the skin while avoiding the fat layer.
The implant can become ineffective if injected in the fat tissue instead of the outer skin and also makes the removal of the implant more difficult.
Undergraduate students at John Hopkins University have created a training kit for global health providers to learn how to do these injections and make contraception more effective.
The students used silicone layers of different densities to more closely represent the physiology of skin, fat and muscle in a human arm. The kit also provides navigational landmarks to help identify and remember where exactly the injection needs to happen.
The silicone layers can be replaced with new materials once the material is damaged to continue training with other clinicians.
"The student inventors came up with a novel and exciting idea of using replaceable training pods," said Ricky Lu, technical director for reproductive health and family planning at Jhpiego, a nonprofit Johns Hopkins University affiliate.
The students said their kit provides more advanced training in how to safely and easily remove an implant, a procedure that's considered to be more challenging than insertion of the contraceptive.
"These pods have placebo implants embedded to simulate a range of removal challenges, from easy pop-outs to deeply located and adherent implants requiring additional skills to extract them. This is critical to have in clinical training where removal cases for practice may be limited during a short training course," said Lu.