Proceedings of the Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, EMBS, 2015-Novem:466-469, 2015. Paper abstract bibtex
The assessment of tissue compliance using a handheld tool is an important skill in medical areas such as laparoscopic and dental surgery. The increasing prevalence of virtual reality devices raises the question of whether we can exploit these systems to accelerate the training of compliance discrimination in trainee surgeons. We used a haptic feedback device and stylus to assess the abilities of naïve participants to detect compliance differences with and without knowledge of results (KR) (groups 1 and 2), as well as the abilities of participants who had undergone repetitive training over several days (group 3). Kinematic analyses were carried out to objectively measure the probing action. Untrained participants had poor detection thresholds (mean just noticeable difference, JND = 33%), and we found no effect of KR (provided after each trial) on performance (mean JND = 35%). Intensive training dramatically improved group performance (mean JND = 12%). Probing action (in particular, slower movement execution) was associated with better detection thresholds, but training did not lead to systematic changes in probing behaviour. These findings set a benchmark for training systems that act to increase perceptual sensitivity and guide the learner toward optimal movement strategies to improve discrimination.