Latest advances in medical robotics to be focus of Bristol conference

Issue date: 28 October 2013

TACTIP the robot fingertip

'Simulation, robotics and telemedicine: innovation driving patient care'

12 November 2013at UWE Exhibition and Conference Centre.

This one day conference is jointly organised by Health Education South West, the Royal Society of Medicine and Bristol | Robotics Laboratory (BRL). The conference brings together leading clinicians, academics and researchers to discuss the latest advances in medical robotics, simulation and telemedicine.

New technological developments are having a significant effect in key areas of medicine and making a valuable contribution to patient care. By bringing together those working in the field, with those at the cutting edge of research, the conference will stimulate discussion, enhance knowledge and encourage further research and collaboration.

Amongst those speaking at the conference about the use of robotics in medicine is Dr Mark Callaway, Consultant Radiologist (University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust). Dr Callaway is collaborating with BRL researcher Ben Winstone on the Mubot project which aims to create a small robotic vessel in the shape of a capsule swallowed by the patient for improved diagnosis. The capsule would use wireless power transfer (WPT) technology based on magnetic induction as its power source. The payload, such as a camera, would be directed to places in the body that the radiologist sees as important for diagnosis or treatment.

Telemedicine is the use of technology to facilitate the remote exchange of information between clinicians to evaluate, diagnose and treat a patient, often with the patient present and active in the consultation. Dr Adam Spiers, Research Fellow (BRL), will speak about 'Haptic feedback for surgical robots'. Dr Spiers is passionate about bringing a sense of 'touch', known as haptics, to the development of medical robotics. Working with PhD candidate Calum Roke, the team have developed a prototype system which allows surgeons to remotely feel and locate tumours. The technology involves several elements including a robotic fingertip (the TACTIP) which mimics the sensing properties of the human finger and tactile display, linked to a robotic arm, which is remotely controlled by a haptic interface with force feedback.

Professor Chris Melhuish, Director of BRL, says, “This conference is an important step forward for BRL and the development of this field within the region. The interaction between technology and medicine is a key area that needs to be further developed and explored. By working closely with clinicians working in this field we at the BRL are able to collaborate on key projects which will ultimately lead to improved diagnosis and care for patients. The speakers and contributors at this unique conference are all leaders in their field, and experts in the potential benefits and issues of using new technology in medicine. We hope that this conference will create a real buzz around the use and significance of these new technologies in the field of medicine and lead to further collaborations and projects.”

Prof Davinder Sandhu, Postgraduate Dean/Head of Education, Severn PGME Health Education South West says, “We need to be at the cutting edge and use our technological advances to create efficient and effective healthcare models, so that we can train a workforce fit for purpose, make our budgets go further, address sustainability and ultimately help our patients.”

Dr Nicholas Robinson, President Elect, Telemedicine & eHealth Section, Royal Society of Medicine says, “Telemedicine/Telehealth based services are the key to addressing the challenge of the impact of Elderl care on NHS services in the next decade, and beyond.”

The conference will appeal to surgeons, physicians and general practitioners wishing to refresh their knowledge, and to junior clinicians and trainees embarking on clinical careers. It will also appeal to researchers involved in medical technology, to medical device manufacturers looking for new opportunities, and to academia, public and charitable institutions.

For a full list of speakers and topics, click here.

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