DIY IV Access Practice Arm With Flowing Blood




Introduction: DIY IV Access Practice Arm With Flowing Blood

About: Interested in Medical, EMT, Nursing, Fire/Rescue, Moulage, making my own equipment, Computers, Electronics, etc.

I made this IV practice arm one day for EMT school. It worked quite well and sorry for the poor quality video.

Step 1: Medical IV Practice Arm

I did my EMT-I last year and for my presentation / project I decided I would make an IV practice arm. For those who've never heard of this, it is simply a fake arm with fake blood flowing through that will allows one to practice inserting an IV. Normally one would have to buy them and they're a little pricey.

I also figured no one else had done anything like this at my school and was right. Usually they did the balloons and diaphragm to represent the process of breathing. My instructor seemed to like it and asked if she could keep the arm. So I had not taken many pictures because I thought I would be keeping the arm, since she took it, I couldn't take any more.

Nevertheless, I think I can show what I did though you'll have to excuse the pictures as I took them off the Youtube video.

Step 2: Needed

* Duct tape
* Plastic bags
* Newspaper
* 1 Rubber glove
* Fish tank tubing (Veins)
* 2 Tubing connectors
* Food sealer bags (Fluid bags)
* Shoe Goo
* Cling Film / Plastic Wrap (wrap the arm before the duct tape)
* Water with red food colouring
* Clear silicon sealer (About 2 tubes)

Step 3: Duct Tape Arm

I started by wrapping my arm in duct tape after first wrapping it with cling film / plastic wrap. I then had my wife cut it off. I made it a little bit too tight, thinking I would get more of the shape, but it didn't really matter in the end and my wife ended up giving me little cuts akin to paper cuts up my arm. Not her fault of course, just a warning about making it too tight.

Step 4: Gloved Hand

To make a hand, I duct taped a rubber glove stuffed with newspaper on the end. I then wrapped it with duct tape as best I could.

Step 5: Plastic Bag Stuffing

I then filled the arm with balled up plastic bags, pressing down enough to get a good fill. Once at the shoulder area, I taped it closed with duct tape. Sorry I didn't have a shot of this.

Step 6: Veins!

For the "veins" I used fish tank tubing that I taped down in various areas. I wrapped the bottom end around some of the fingers and brought it back up. This gave one continious tube for the blood to flow. I inserted a "three-way" valve at the shoulder end to connect the fluid bags.

Step 7: Fluid Bags

There are two bags for the fluid. To get the blood flowing you need to have the bag that's filled with blood higher than the empty bag. This forces the fluid through the veins and into the empty bag.

For the IV fluid bags themselves, I used food sealer bags and connected a length of fish tank tubing using Shoe Goo with both ends of the bag sealed. I made a small cut into the "bottom" end and inserted the tube and goo'd it up.

Step 8: The Blood

For the blood I mixed red food colouring in water. This was poured into the hole of the IV bag before the tube was glued into place.

Step 9: Silicon Skin

To get "skin" to insert an IV needle through, I used silicon sealer that actually worked out quite well. I think two tubes were used with just a little left over in the last tube. This was a little tricky, but I would squeeze some out onto the duct tape in between the "veins" and using a plastic knife dipped into water often, I was able to smear it in between and over the tubing.

Step 10: Final Result

Once all this was put together I let the goo dry and hooked the two IV bags to each end of the fish tank tubing where the connectors are around the shoulder area. The blood flowed through the system nicely and it actually looked kinda freaky and cool.

I inserted an IV needle into the arm and got flash back. What I was hoping for was the silicon closing the whole and preventing the blood from leaking out. It did.

I was a little excited in this video; it worked! *lol* Sorry the video doesn't show enough, but you'll get the idea. The "IV Bags" were not high enough during the video for blood to be moving through the arm; the veins were simply primed with the blood. I lift it up here and there to show the flashback and blood flow through the catheter. Normally the full bag would be placed high and blood would flow through the arm into the empty (lower) bag.

Step 11: Improvements

If I do this again I think I'll try to thin the silicon out a bit; maybe with some sort of alcohol. It will make it easier to spread and I believe the alcohol will evaporate and I'd be left with a smoother.

I would also glue the IV tubing down instead of using using tape. Just looks better.

The hand would also need some work, although, not sure exactly how to make it look more like a hand. I would also like to see a tube going up the thumb as this is another area IV's can be placed.

Another idea is to look closer at the layout of actual veins and try to mimic the placement as much as possible. I didn't do this in this project as I didn't have a lot of time to get it done.

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    Nate Cougill
    Nate Cougill

    9 years ago on Step 1

    Nice! I like the idea a lot. I may make one with ballistics gel for my IV class.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    This looks so fun....I could play every night.


    11 years ago on Step 1

    Fantastic idea ! I hung up my badge over 20 yrs ago but I can still remember walking into class and wondering what all the oranges were for, in the late 1970's they were the only practiuce we had until we did our er tours ! In the prior training I had from Uncle Sam we practiced on each other...... I really like the idea of the fishtank tubing, it has me thinking about how to use it in our haunted house..hhmmm...large reservior, a fountain bump and an exentrict wheel to make it "pulse" ^5 and best of luck in your career !


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 1

    Thank you very much! Liking your idea for Halloween too!

    I was originally going to try and do a whole chest cavity for the project with a beating heart, veins filled with red fluid and glitter for "cells". Lungs were supposed to breath; at least that's what I had in mind.

    We had practice arms at the school, they didn't let us practice on each other either. So, when I saw that I changed my mind and went for something a little easier. :-)

    Anyway, good luck with the Halloween project and thanks again.



    Reply 11 years ago on Step 1

    In my fathers day, ambulance attendents would scoop and run, by the time I became involved the redcross's advanced first aid course was the primary training and emt's were just coming into being. A lot of the advancement was do to an early 1970's tv show called "Emergency" about a team of paramedics from LA County, doctors and others across the country recognized the niche medics could fill and the changes came quickly, with each recertification class we could do more and more although keeping up with the equipment needed was difficult for volunteer services to obtain. Todays emt's are more on a level of that era's paramedics and the training is expotentionally more difficult. I have a friend who is currently taking an emt course and after looking over his books I seriously don't know if I could ever get certified! Regardless of the era, it takes a special kind of person to withstand the rigors of this calling and the consequences last long after the job is a memory.

    Sorry I don't know where the chatter came from, I only meant to comment on the complexity of your other idea and somehow.....


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 1

    *lol*, It's no problem. Enjoy the talk. I work in a hospital, volunteer at a fire department and will soon be starting with an EMT service. You are absolutely right about it taking a certain kind of person; some of the things you see and have to deal with... but most of "us" are the best people to be around. Couldn't imagine it any other way now.

    A chest cavity would be very difficult, but that's how my mind works at times. Think of the biggest, most impressive thing and hope someday to do it. Out of that idea came other smaller, more manageable ideas; such as the arm above. I've got a completely different idea now though, but finances are keeping me from it. Still, it was bred from the chest cavity and is more practical.

    As for going back and redoing the EMT, I know a lady who did her EMT many years ago. She is going to try and get back into it; what I've noticed though is her experience really brings a lot to the table, even with a lack of knowledge with the updated material. I think you can do it. You have the mind set, previous experience and therefore capability. Go for it!


    11 years ago on Step 1

    This seems like a great idea. You could always make a cast of your own arm to make in silicone and do some sort of color treatment, either mixed in with the silicone, or a translucent paint on top, to simulate skin. I think sometimes it can be hard just to see right where the vein is, and it would be good to add that layer of complexity for the sake of practice. Neat project!


    Reply 11 years ago on Step 1

    This was done rather quickly for the school project, but adding the complexity of skin tones would be beneficial for practice.

    I actually didn't think of making a proper cast though, maybe plaster of paris would be good for that? Filling it with silicon might be a bit much, but would work nicely. Maybe I can use a length of PVC pipe to simulate bone (make the whole thing sturdier as well) and will help with use of less silicon.

    Thanks for the ideas!