A new research project called RoboPatient has commenced under the leadership of Dr Thrishantha Nanayakkara, reader in design engineering and robotics at the Dyson School of Design Engineering, Imperial College. The project will use augmented reality and robotics to enhance the training of medical students in using physical examinations to assess the condition of organs in the abdomen, and build up an archive of suggested techniques and their likely rate of success in a variety of cases.
“A new research project called RoboPatient will use augmented reality and robotics to enhance the training of medical students.“
The researchers have developed a prototype robotic patient using silicone rubber to simulate soft tissue with various symptoms like swollen organs, or hard nodules. Sensors embedded in the pseudo organs record pressure applied during an examination, and the time taken to reach a diagnosis. A finite element tissue model allows the sensor data to be displayed visually. They are also working on using augmented reality to simulate facial expressions to indicate when the patient feels pain. Eventually the data accumulated will facilitate the creation of a probabilistic model to indicate which techniques are most likely to succeed in a given situation. Dr Nanayakkara and his team hope to soon have a first version of the training module in action in a clinical environment, followed by further refined versions by the end of the project in 2020.