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February 2011, Volume 41 Number 2 , p 17 - 18


  • Jennifer Zeien BSN, RN, ACNS-BC


OBTAINING EFFECTIVE yet inexpensive teaching tools for healthcare staff and patients can be challenging. Teaching aids to demonstrate tracheostomy tube and stoma site care are no exception. Some educational polyurethane manikin heads are available, but most cost between $200 and $500. These manikin heads are not only expensive, but also heavy and clinically inaccurate. For instance, the stoma site isn't anatomically correct and the tracheostomy is simply a hole without a tracheostomy track. When showing a patient how to care for a tracheostomy tube or stoma site, you need more accurate teaching aids.How can you find a cost-effective tool to help educate both staff and patients about these procedures? Just use your head and create one. This article will tell you how to make a model and how to use it for teaching.Effective teaching draws on various methods and approaches to increase understanding. Printed handouts and brochures and various audio-visual aids can help, but nothing beats demonstration and return-demonstration for teaching your patients and their families how to perform a new skill in a safe learning environment and helping them become active participants in patient care.I created models from foam heads because they're lightweight and can be purchased from any beauty supply store for about $4.00, making them a very inexpensive option. The foam models can be used for teaching about tracheostomies as well as for other types of head and neck surgical procedures, such as laryngectomies. They can also be easily cleaned with germicidal wipes between uses.To make your own foam model showing the cross section of a head, first cut it in half. Using an electric knife can help with this step, but be careful!! Create a pattern or write to me, at, for a full-size pattern. Trace the pattern on the foam, then cut with a utility knife and carve with a spoon. Use a small metal file or grater to smooth the edges.Painting allows for creativity.

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