Through the Institute’s Biomedical Engineer in Residence – Gough Lui’s direct consultation with registrar and trainee surgeons at Liverpool Hospital – a need for more individualised surgical skills-training with feedback and increased opportunities for training have been identified. Robotic surgery is known for its steep learning curve and occasional challenges for mentors being able to provide actionable feedback, and for mentees to put such feedback into action. An engineering research solution has conceived, built, and refined several purpose-specific “Smart Gloves” prototypes. These can record experienced surgeons’ hand movements and provide trainees with feedback on how to replicate skilled movements. Validation trials are currently underway, testing trainees and surgeons with varying levels of experience. The data suggest that a more fine-grained approach to interpreting motion metrics may provide better results than conventional “overall averages”, and the use of gyroscope sensors can provide new information about the smoothness of rotation which is not presently measured.
The first two iterations of the Smart Gloves prototypes have been demonstrated to Liverpool Hospital registrars and surgeons with feedback incorporated into the latest iteration. The third generation of the Smart Gloves device has been designed, manufactured and is currently being made functional with supporting hardware and software. Validation data for 10 participants has been collected from a previous iteration, with positive feedback regarding the potential for data to improve surgical skills training and assessment. Data analysis is ongoing.