Title : Individual grip force profiling for assessing surgical task skill evolution
Benchmark methods permitting to establish objective criteria for surgical skill and task expertise need to be worked out to effectively train surgeons on computer controlled surgery system. Grip force monitoring during task execution allows establishing individual grip force profiles of young surgeons at different stages of training for comparison with expert grip force profiles. This was brought to the forefront in several proof-of-concept studies from our most recent research. Small force sensors sewn into a wearable device that ergonomically fits potentially any computer controlled surgical task system were employed for monitoring the forces applied by experts and trainees, including novice surgeons, during all the steps of surgical task execution in surgical simulator tasks. Analyses of grip-force profiles were performed sensor by sensor to bring to the fore specific differences in handgrip force profiles in specific sensor locations on anatomically relevant parts of the fingers and hand controlling the task. The functional implications of links between individual grip force profile evolution and task time evolution will be discussed in the light of results from other research groups. Our conclusions relative to spatio-temporal characteristics of expert and novice grip-force profiles in surgical simulator tasks highlight why individual grip-force profiling proves a better alternative to the monitoring and analysis of surgical skill evolution in training programs compared with time-to-task completion criteria.