UNMC, UNL collaborate on VR tractor safety program

By Victoria Grdina, University of Nebraska-Lincoln | May 17, 2021

Image with caption: An image from the game

An image from the game

UNMC is collaborating with a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team on a new project that will help educate nurses about risks and health care in the state's agricultural communities.

The UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln and Kearney divisions are working with the UNL Computer Science and Engineering senior design team on a grant from the Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the UNMC College of Public Health, to develop a virtual reality game that simulates tractor driving and teaches users how to safelt operate farming vehicles.

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Senior design team member and University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Jaden Goter views the actions taken by Sue Schulelke, PhD, UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division, as she plays the virtual reality game.

The game allows users to drive around a virtual farm on a tractor and complete objectives while trying to avoid a rollover. Users can explore, learn about various aspects of the farm, or even play mini games that involve collecting coins or racing cows. In the event of a rollover, the game tracks user actions, identifies which were responsible for the crash, and explains how future accidents could be avoided.

The National Agricultural Tractor Safety Initiative reports that tractors cause about 50% of farmer deaths and 130 deaths annually, making it the biggest cause of farm-related deaths each year. Tractor rollovers also make up 44% of all farming accidents.

"Agriculture has an occupational risk eight times higher than the average occupation, so in Nebraska, it really is a big need," said UNMC College of Nursing Lincoln Division Assistant Professor Sue Schuelke, PhD, principal investigator of the project.

Having had loved ones involved in tragic farming accidents, Dr. Schuelke and Michelle Ellermeier, an instructor at the UNMC College of Nursing Kearney Division and co-investigator of the grant, decided to collaborate and examine ways they could better educate their nursing students on farming risks in order to improve care and prevent future injuries.

"When we looked at the literature, we could see there is a definitive gap -- in graduating nurses and even in practicing nurse practitioners -- in their knowledge of agriculture," Dr. Schuelke said. "We have health care workers who have that gap in knowledge of the risk, and then we have a state that has high risk."

Dr. Schuelke said the game will be integrated into UNMC's nursing curriculum and showcased at various midwestern conferences where it will be available for play to agricultural workers and children.

Tess McKinney
May 17, 2021 at 10:13 AM

To download the Ag Safety Simulation for Oculus Quest please visit: https://sidequestvr.com/app/3813/rollover-ranch