Sensable Customers Showcase Touch-Enabled Surgical, Medical Simulation and Robotics Innovations at MMVR Conference

From Virtual Operating Rooms to Brain Surgery Simulators, Leading Research Institutions and Companies are Enhancing Results by Incorporating the Power of Touch with Haptics

WILMINGTON, Mass.--Sensable's customers will feature prominently at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality (MMVR) Conference in Newport Beach, California beginning tomorrow, where they will showcase innovative haptically-enabled surgical, medical simulation, rehabilitation and robotic applications developed using Sensable's Phantom® force feedback haptic devices. Studies have shown that adding tactile feedback into image-guided surgical and simulation solutions can enhance proficiency, accuracy and dexterity for better prepared surgeons and better surgical outcomes. As a result, force feedback haptics technology has increasingly gained adoption in immersive training and simulation applications, and is now moving into diagnostics, patient-specific surgical planning, stroke rehabilitation and in robotically-controlled, minimally invasive procedures.

"Force-feedback haptics are rapidly gaining interest in virtually every area of medicine - from learning basic surgical skills to administering ultrasounds; from patient specific surgical planning to haptically guiding surgical robots"

Sensable is the de facto leader in the force-feedback haptics market, with a rich patent portfolio and over 10,000 systems installed worldwide. Sensable's Phantom haptic devices demonstrate the power of touch to transform biomedical innovation across a wide variety of computing platforms, use cases and delivery models. At MMVR this week, Sensable and its customers will show how adding the sense of touch is changing the way surgeons are trained in fundamental skills, learn advanced subspecialty skills, perform minimally invasive surgery, and achieve proficiency even in geographies where training facilities or access to cadavers are lacking.

Sensable customer applications cited or on display at MMVR include:

Virtual Basic Laparoscopic Skill Trainer (VBLaST), a touch-enabled virtual reality platform from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, that is designed to train and test future surgeons, and is the cornerstone of the university's "Virtual OR" initiative. Funded by an NIH grant, VBLaST is a virtual version of the Fundamentals of Laparoscopic Surgery (FLS) training being developed by a joint committee of the Society of American Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Surgery (SAGES) and the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The VBLaST attaches actual laparoscopic tools to the ends of two Phantom Omni force feedback haptic devices, which clinicians use to practice transferring on-screen objects from hand to hand, helping them to learn the correct feeling, force, and motions required in actual surgery. The system provides a consistent, objective metric on surgical skills, and allows surgical residents to be tested at a local facility at their convenience, rather than at a few select cities and dates, where they must be observed and graded by qualified proctors. Presently in the early stages of validation trials at four Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals in Boston, VBLaST is intended to become the standard way for credentialing surgeons who perform laparoscopic procedures in the future.

NeuroTouch haptically-enabled brain surgery simulator, developed by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, is a platform that enables neurosurgeons to rehearse a delicate operation on an anatomically precise virtual brain. Surgeons must rely on more than visual input when operating on the tiny structures of the brain - they must learn the feeling of various tissue types as they navigate anatomies which vary tremendously across individuals and disease states. NeuroTouch presents a virtual 3D brain on a computer screen as users hold Sensable's Phantom haptic device to feel the structures as they follow a simulated surgery. When a surgical instrument touches virtual fibrous tissue as in a tumor, the surgeon feels resistance, yet when soft tissue is touched, the instrument moves smoothly. NeuroTouch allows surgical residents unlimited practice opportunities, as well as presenting multiple surgical scenarios, to become familiar with neurosurgical procedures at zero risk to patients.

Virtual Temporal Bone Surgery Simulator, developed by the Ohio Supercomputer Center in partnership with Dr. Gregory Wiet, Associate Professor, Otolaryngology at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, a teaching hospital of The Ohio State University. The simulator helps surgeons learn the feeling of difficult and delicate surgical techniques associated with ear surgery that requires drilling into a bone in the skull, called the temporal bone. OSC's simulator has been used in Nicaragua, a country where cadaveric materials are hard to access, to train local ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeons, and will be part of a planned training laboratory in Central America. This highlights the importance of using advanced simulators in developing nations where physicians cannot acquire highly specialized clinical skills and rehearse unusual anatomical conditions as readily as their peers in developed nations.

Stroke Rehabilitation application, created by Brain Stimulation AB of Sweden using Sensable's haptic devices and developed with SenseGraphics' H3DAPI haptic application programming interface (API). The application provides an entertaining way for patients to improve fine motor skills and improve attention, and is presently being evaluated at a Swedish research institution. The application leverages Umeå University's research in the field of VR, and the Umeå University Hospital's research in neurology and rehabilitation.

In addition, Sensable will display the newest version of its Phantom haptic devices, which allows easy connection and configuration through the standardized network interface, and supports the use of customized end-effectors, such as surgical drills or endoscopic tools. Sensable will also showcase a new version of its OpenHaptics™ developer toolkit, which allows developers to easily touch-enable their applications and integrate them into more platforms.

"Force-feedback haptics are rapidly gaining interest in virtually every area of medicine - from learning basic surgical skills to administering ultrasounds; from patient specific surgical planning to haptically guiding surgical robots," said Joan Lockhart, vice president of marketing for Sensable. "As more universities and hospitals build simulation and training centers, VCs and healthcare organizations continue to fund minimally invasive procedures and advanced diagnostics, the market for touch-enabling technology will continue to accelerate. We salute the innovation of our customers in applying a sense of touch to better train, and better serve all patients."

About Sensable

Founded in 1993, Sensable remains the leading developer of touch-enabled solutions and technology that allow users to not only see and hear an on-screen computer application, but to actually "feel" it. With 44 patents granted and over 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Sensable helps people innovate with human touch solutions. The company markets and sells a suite of 3D organic design solutions that includes its flagship product, Freeform; and the Phantom® and Omni™ lines of haptic devices, used in surgical simulation and planning, stroke rehabilitation, medical training, and a range of research and robotic applications. With an unparalleled commitment to partnering with customers, Sensable brings a human touch to innovating and implementing customer-centric solutions. Sensable products are available through direct and reseller channels worldwide.

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