Section: New Results

Other medical activities

Participants : Jean-Pierre Merlet [correspondant] , Sylvain Guénon.

Eric Sejor, a surgeon at Nice hospital, has contacted us about developing a robotized system for realizing sutures in an autonomous way. Suturing is a lengthy process while in many cases this is not a complex operation. Eric Sejor mentions that developing an autonomous system allowing to manage standard wounds may be extremely interesting, especially for emergency service that are under-staffed. Instead of developing a new robot dedicated to this purpose we have proposed to Eric Sejor to build a system based on the existing manual tools that require to put the instrument in place and then simply squeezing a trigger. The placement will be realized by one of our small parallel robot, with the help of vision system to locate the edge of the wound, while the trigger squeezing will be performed by an actuator. We have obtained an Idex funding (one year for an engineer) to develop a proof-of-concept prototype that will perform the operation on silicone mockups that are used for the surgeon training.

We have had also a contact with the ergotherapist Nicolas Ciai from Nice hospital for the evaluation of patient motricity before an operation. For this evaluation the ergotherapist performs muscular testing before the operation, right after the operation and 6 months later. The exercise consists in opposing the ergotherapist palm against the musculo group that has to be tested until a force equilibrium is reached. Then the ergotherapist ranks the tonicity of the muscles on a discrete scale between 0 and 6 according to his muscular feeling. As numerous muscles have to be tested, the process is quite lengthy. Clearly this process is quite subjective and we have proposed an objectification of the process by developing a glove prototype that includes pression sensors for measuring accurately the pressure exerted by the patient. These sensors are used by a micro-computer the size of a large watch located on the wrist of the ergotherapist. This computer determines when the pressure becomes stable, in which case this pressure is displayed and recorded. A companion software will then exploit the recorded data to provide an evaluation report. Beside the objectification of the ranking, the purpose is also to speed-up the tests. Although this project is quite advanced, we are lacking of manpower to complete it so that we have presented a project to Nice hospital for funding an engineer that may complete the second version of the glove.