ROBOTICS CLASS Meets the da Vinci Robot
(November 1, 2016) Peconic Bay Medical Center has been a good educational partner to the Riverhead Central School District. The hospital teamed with the district to help sponsor Project Fit, which equipped all the district’s elementary schools with a national fitness program and outdoor fitness equipment. Last Friday, the hospital welcomed Luke Ferland’s Robotics Class with open robotic arms to allow them a close look at the hospital’s da Vinci robot.
Dr. Agostino Cervone, the Director of Robotic Surgery at PBMC and one of the surgeons in this region with advanced training in the use of the world-class daVinci Robotic Surgery System, generously shared his time, teaching expertise, and surgical robot with the RHS robotics class. They, in turn, enthusiastically embraced this learning experience.
Fifteen robotics students, RHS science teacher Luke Ferland and a parent, Eric Behr's dad, and the class robot took a bus to the hospital and quietly waited to meet Dr. Cervone. The hospital staff had moved the da Vinci robot out of the operating room and into the recovery area. They set it up with a trainer set with rings and cones so each student could practice operating the robot.
Dr. Cervone was an amazing teacher; some of his residents also joined the learning session. He explained first why the robot was named after da Vinci.* The name, he shared, of course comes from the painter Leonardo da Vinci, who interestingly used a lot of cables and pulleys in his projects. Dr. Cervone then displayed the cables in what would perhaps be called the robot’s wrist.
One of the students, Forest Vail, responded, “Wow, wouldn’t it be great if we could give our robot a wrist like that, Mr. Ferland!”
And they were off. Dr. Cervone invited the students to come forward for a closer look and encouraged them to touch and turn the arms of the robot. He showed them how he attached the probes and had them practice doing so themselves.
Using a plastic simulation of an abdomen, he put the probes through the holes and everyone watched as the interior of the abdomen came up on the display. Inside were little rings and an incision surrounded by dots and suture stitches.
After a demonstration by Dr. Cervone, each robotics student got to use the thumb and finger controllers to pick up and move the rings to other areas of the simulated abdomen. Dr. Cervone shared his amazement at how quickly the students picked up on the procedure declaring it was probably due to their experience with computer games. One of his residents stated she had recently joined her husband in playing Lego video games to improve her own ability with the robot.
RHS robotics student Quint Nigro noted appreciatively, “Allowing us to not only assist in the setup of, but also operate the robot was both eye-opening and fun.”
The end of the day concluded with the RHS students performing a demonstration of their competition robot for the PBMC team in the lobby of the hospital.
“There are few places better for our students to spend their time than in a robotics class or on a class trip learning about this rapidly growing, and increasingly integrated, technology,” noted Mr. Ferland. “Visiting a robot in action in this venue made that a focal point. Dr. Cervone and all the people at PBMC who made this possible did a great thing for our students.”
*(The name "da Vinci " stems for the 15th century inventor, painter, philosopher and Renaissance man: da Vinci is widely known for advancing the study of human anatomy. He participated in autopsies, produced many extremely detailed anatomical drawings and planned a comprehensive work of human and comparative anatomy. His study of human anatomy eventually led to the design of the first known robot in history. This design, which has come to be known as "Leonardo's Robot," was probably made around the year 1495 but was rediscovered in the 1950s.)