University of Waterloo
Engineering 5 (E5), 6th Floor
Phone: 519-888-4567 ext.32600
Surgical robots and exoskeletons save lives and enable independence. However, their access, acceptance and use are limited by usability barriers and cost-benefit comparisons with conventional practice. My talk will demonstrate soft robotics techniques and transdisciplinary design strategies that address these challenges and stimulate the discovery of new application areas in engineering and medicine.
Surgical robots enhance precision, dexterity, and vision during minimally invasive surgery. However, the sense of touch is lost when breaking the physical link between the surgeon and tissue. We designed optical fiber shape and force sensors for custom designed DaVinci tools, concentric tube robots and robotic catheters. Relaying touch information to the surgeon has added consistency and safety during cardiac, laparoscopic, and neurosurgical experiments and provides opportunities to train novice surgeons and learn from experts.
Exoskeletons have a variety of use cases and numerous design tradeoffs. We used a transdisciplinary design approach in which stroke survivors, therapists, engineers, and not-for-profit organizations worked hand-in-hand to develop the open-source HERO Glove exoskeleton optimized for assistance and rehabilitation in everyday life. I will share my experiences from this co-design process and in integrating exoskeletons into clinic and home rehabilitation across Canada, Europe, and India.
On the horizon are wearable sensing, actuation and electrical stimulation technologies integrated with deep learning and neural controllers to push the boundaries of human capability, advance the usability of surgical and rehabilitation robots, and generate opportunities for job creation and entrepreneurship.
Aaron Yurkewich, PhD is an enthusiast of Athletics, Accessibility and Education and enjoys creating mechatronic systems and services that help people achieve their goals. His experience is in user-centred design and biomedical engineering with applications in surgical robotics and neurorehabilitation.
Yurkewich's Master’s works at the University of Western Ontario / Canadian Surgical Technologies and Advanced Robotics focus on the design and evaluation of sensorized surgical tools and lower limb rehabilitation interfaces. During my PhD at the University of Toronto / Toronto Rehabilitation Institute he designed the HERO Glove hand exoskeleton that is used globally to help people with disabilities use their hands. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher at Imperial College London where he designed a neurorehabilitation interface that modulates various stimulation modalities in response to neural activity and co-founded HumanRobotiX to make this technology accessible to researchers and clinicians worldwide.