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Professor awarded $1.48M grant to develop interactive CPR training films for high schoolers

A woman describes a CPR technique while a man performs it on a manikin. Two others watch.
Mike Hidden
Flanz Media
Lorrel Toft, MD, (from left) demonstrates layperson CPR on a training manikin similar to how her CPR training films teach high school athletes to perform the lifesaving technique with Shafquat Saif, DO, MPH, Hunza Ahmad, MD, and Hosang Kim, MD.

To make CPR training among high school students more effective, a cardiologist and associate professor at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) is developing interactive films and other digital media with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Lorrel Toft is working to increase the retention of CPR skills among high school students and athletes.

Her goal is to train students to identify cardiac arrest and give immediate CPR on the field using realistic and interactive films.

“Instead of just teaching you ‘OK, to do CPR, push hard and fast in the center of the chest and push 100 times per minute,’ we use a realistic scenario and teach the learners through that scenario,” Toft said. “So they see a cardiac arrest happening, the heroes of the film as they face various decisions, the film pauses and asks questions of the audience.”

The project was first funded by a three-year $400,000 grant from the American Heart Association in 2019.

In September, Toft was awarded a two-year $1.48 million grant from the National Institutes of Health that will help her develop the next phase of the project.

“This will transform the interactive film into a full game experience so that when people are watching it, they’re also performing CPR at the same time as the heroes and it becomes a very immersive and interactive game-like experience with competition between teams in a classroom setting,” she said.

Toft hopes to develop an entire system of interactive CPR training films that are adopted nationwide across high schools, sports teams and beyond.

Corrected: November 30, 2023 at 12:24 PM PST
This story was updated to correct a misspelling of Dr. Lorrel Toft’s name.
Maria joined KUNR Public Radio in December 2022 as a staff reporter. She is interested in stories about underserved communities, immigration, arts and culture, entertainment, education and health.