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Fall 2012

Meeting a Burning Need

Date: September 1, 2012

In January 2009, on the outskirts of Nairobi, an overturned tanker gushed thousands of gallons of gasoline, attracting a crowd that attempted to collect the spilt fuel. Nearly 100 died in the explosion that ensued, and almost twice as many sustained burn injuries, inundating local hospitals that were ill-equipped for the catastrophe.

As part of a Johns Hopkins Burn Center team deployed to help, director Stephen Milner witnessed firsthand the human devastation—inspiring him to seek an effective way to teach others how to properly care for burn victims. The result? A mobile application that is now available online for medical students and physicians.

The Burn Center product is among a fast-growing number of mobile apps being developed throughout Johns Hopkins to provide health and medical information to physicians, medical students, emergency medicine personnel, and global health workers.

Born out of a collaboration with Harry Goldberg, assistant dean and director of academic computing for the School of Medicine, the Burn Medical Education app, or BurnMed, utilizes a combination of pictures, video, and text to illustrate how to handle victims in the eight hours following a burn—a period critical for survival. For example, by highlighting burned areas on a rotatable 3-D figure of a man, woman, or child using an iPad or iPhone, the user can quickly calculate how much fluid to administer.

“This app is designed so the user can understand the underlying procedures used to treat a burn victim within a few minutes,” says Goldberg. “In a textbook, one could read several chapters and they still may not understand these procedures due to the limits of text.”

Milner says apps are fast, accurate, and accessible in comparison to traditional treatment methods that involve complex mathematical equations. Two-dimensional textbook charts don’t show the surface area of the sides of the body, top of the head, and bottom of the feet—a shortcoming, he says, that could lead to dangerous miscalculations, as too little or too much fluid can be lethal.

Milner and Goldberg are just two of many across Hopkins who’re developing applications designed to impart medical knowledge.“This is another way to share the Johns Hopkins values, mission, and brand with places we have not yet reached internationally,” says Montserrat Capdevila, of the university’s Tech Transfer Office.  Shannon Swiger

Visit the iTunes store or Google play for the following apps:

• Johns Hopkins Antibiotic Guide

• Johns Hopkins Atlas of Pancreas Pathology

• Johns Hopkins BurnMed  (Pro and lite versions)

• Johns Hopkins Diabetes Guide

• Johns Hopkins eMOCHA

• Johns Hopkins eMOCHA TB DETECT

• Johns Hopkins HIV Guide

• Johns Hopkins HIV Dementia Scale

• Johns Hopkins Tech Transfer App