Flexible Medical Robotics

Flexible robotic systems can provide additional functionality and movement that a human operator is not capable of. These features could be particularly useful in medical procedures such as needlebased interventions and catheter steering; however, unique challenges related to design, sensing, and control quickly arise when using flexible robots in biological tissue. We aim to address specific issues related to clinical use of flexible robotic systems such as developing novel teleoperation algorithms, modeling and predicting adverse needle steering events, and integrating realtime medial imaging with these systems.

 

Semantic Labeling of Surgical Skills

Surgical skill level can have a significant effect on clinical outcome and patient’s health. Careful assessment of surgical skill and efficient training has gained a great deal of attention. Human perception of surgical expertise is not so much a careful, rational evaluation, but rather an instinctive, impulsive one. We aim to develop a mechanism for translating conceptually difficult observational differences between novices and expert surgeons into actionable, connotation-based feedback that a novice can understand and employ.

 

Haptics for Medical Research

Haptic devices are mechatronic systems that provide real or simulated sensations related to touch. Haptic devices are typically either kinesthetic, which physically apply forces to the joints and limbs, or tactile, which create touch sensations on the skin, such as a vibration or stretch. Touch is an important component of medical research, particularly in the fields of pain and rehabilitation. We develop devices that can create haptic sensations for non-traditional applications, such as a tactile stoke display for neuropathic pain studies using mice.

 

Devices for Pediatric Surgery

Pediatric surgery poses unique surgical challenges due to extremely delicate tissue, small workspaces, and the lack of appropriate surgical training tools and devices on the market. Our work aims to improve outcomes in pediatric surgery, either by developing novel tools to accelerate surgical skill training, or by creating novel devices which promote faster and more effective healing for pediatric patients.