IEEE PULSE presents

Modeling and Simulation in Biomedical Engineering: Applications in Cardiorespiratory Physiology

Book Reviews January/February 2014
Author: Duane Patterson

Willem van Meurs, McGraw Hill, 2011. ISBN: 978-0071714457, US$100.
Modeling and simulation have developed into indispensable disciplines in many fields including the physiological sciences; yet, there are few accessible texts available that teach the model building process in a methodical way for the physiological model developer. This text fills that need admirably.
Uniquely qualified to author such a text, van Meurs is one of the original developers of CAE Healthcare’s Human Patient Simulator (HPS), which, nearly 20 years after its release, stands alone in its physiologic and pharmacologic model sophistication for patient simulation and risk-free caregiver education. His understanding of mathematics, human physiology, pharmacology, control systems, and systems engineering, combined with a conversational writing style, results in a readable text suitable for upper-year undergraduate or early graduate courses in biomedical engineering, physiology, or applied mathematics. For those modelers or aspiring modelers reading the text, an understanding of differential equations is warranted. However, the book is also written for the clinician, educator, technician, or director who may want an overarching view of biomedical modeling and simulating without delving into the specifics, as the sections are well delineated. van Meurs writes as he teaches, in a comfortable, interactive way, leading the reader from basic familiar concepts to new applications of those concepts. Readers, especially students, will be happy to see that van Meurs shows all the steps in his model derivations, rather than let the reader show the philosophy of too many textbook authors. The ample illustrations and tables also break up the text and make reading the book easier on the eyes.
After an introductory chapter with a useful review of basic concepts and explanatory definitions, the book begins by teaching the need for requirements and how to write good requirements, a critical concept that is too often overlooked in textbooks. The systems engineering of taking the requirements and creating a conceptual model that allocates the requirements to functional blocks is then explained. van Meurs then makes the critical jump from conceptual model to mathematical model followed by an introduction to software implementation and finally model validation. The reader who is not a model developer can easily skip the mathematical modeling and software chapters without losing the flow of the topic. However, the chapter on validation is a very important one for every reader. One of the important contributions to the modeling literature is this complete picture, written concisely so that one can easily follow the process from conception to model validation.  All of this is done in about 100 pages in a succinct and readable fashion. For those desirous of investigating any of these topics in more depth, the author provides many references and recommended readings. Also included at the end of each chapter are pertinent review problems that could be used for course assignments.
Finally, van Meurs’ greatest contribution is that he does what every student wants in a textbook but rarely finds. He spends the next four chapters illustrating, with concrete examples from his own experience with HPS development, how to use the process previously described to create a set of basic models of the cardiorespiratory system. These chapters breathe life, so to speak, into the topic by demonstrating the practical application of the theory. These modeling concepts were for years kept under wraps as being too commercially sensitive for the public domain. Now the author has been given permission to teach the next generation of model developers these important concepts.
In the final section, “Advanced Topics,” van Meurs appends a short tutorial on sensitivity analysis, with a final chapter devoted to a high-level introduction to education theory and training system design. This chapter highlights the importance of the idea that simulator development should be driven by training needs, not the other way around. At only 185 pages, this book is concise yet in conversational style, with real-life examples. This book is highly recommended for coursework in physiologic modeling and for all who are interested in simulator design and development. The book pulls all these topics together under one cover and is an important contribution to biomedical literature.

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