The current COVID-19 pandemic has produced numerous innovations in personal protective equipment, barrier devices, and infection mitigation strategies, which have not been validated. During high-risk procedures such as airway manipulation, coughs are common and discrete events that may expose healthcare workers to large amounts of viral particles. A simulated cough under controlled circumstances can rapidly test novel devices and protocols and thus aid in their evaluation and the development of implementation guidelines. Physiologic cough simulators exist but require significant expertise and specialized equipment not available to most clinicians.
Using components commonly found in healthcare settings, a cough simulator was designed for clinicians to easily assemble and use. Both droplet and aerosol particle generators were incorporated into a bimodal experimental system. High-speed flash photography was used for data collection.
Using a gas flow analyzer, video recordings, and high-speed digital photography, the cough and particle simulators were quantitatively and qualitatively compared with known physiologic cough parameters and in vivo Schlieren imaging of human coughs.
Based on our validation studies, this cough and particle simulator model approximates a physiologic, human cough in the context of testing personal protective equipment, barrier devices, and infection prevention measures.