Sensorimotor Control Meets Surgical Robotics – A Model of the Surgeon Can Benefit Patients
Associate Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
In robot-assisted minimally invasive surgery (RAMIS), a surgeon manipulates a pair of joysticks that teleoperate instruments inside a patient’s body to achieve precise control of movement, tissue manipulation, and perception. Despite many advantages for both the patient and the surgeon, the full potential of RAMIS and other teleoperation applications is yet to be realized. During everyday interaction with the external world, our brain graciously deals with a similar task – fine manipulation and perception with outdated and noisy information that arrives from multiple sensors. Hence, I posit that employing models and theories about how our sensorimotor system performs these tasks could help bridge major gaps currently impeding the realization of RAMIS full potential. I will present recent results of our human behavioral and machine learning studies to uncover the kinematic signatures of human movements while executing surgical tasks with virtual and real objects and how they change across different time scales following adaptation and skill acquisition. I will then discuss how we harness these findings to eventually improve the control of surgical robots, the assessment and advancement of surgical skill, and ultimately, the well-being of patients.
Prof. Ilana Nisky received all her academic degrees in Biomedical Engineering from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University as a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellow, she returned to BGU where she is now an Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and established the Biomedical Robotics Lab. Recently she also joined the Negev Translational Neurorehabilitation Lab as the principal investigator for rehabilitation with haptic interfaces. She is the recipient of the 2019 IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Academic Career Award, the 2021 Neural Control of Movement Society Early Career Award, the Alon fellowship by the Israeli Council of High Education, and \was selected as one of 40 promising young Israelis by TheMarker magazine. Her research interests include human motor control, haptics, robotics, human and machine learning, teleoperation, and robot-assisted surgery, and she hopes that this research will improve the quality of treatment for patients, will facilitate better training of surgeons, advance the technology of teleoperation and haptics, and advance our understanding of the brain. Nisky authored more than 80 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, and numerous abstracts in international conferences. She is a Senior Member of IEEE, was an executive committee member of the EuroHaptics Society, and is a board member of the Israeli Society for Medical and Biological Engineering.