Designed a robotic glove that changes surgical procedures

Designed a robotic glove that changes surgical procedures

Antonia Tzemanaki is a robotics engineer and researcher at the University of the West of England, Bristol. She and her team are developing robotic technology that can enhance medical practice.

Tzemanaki was born on 11 December 1984 in Chania, Greece. In 2009 she graduated from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She received her Master’s degree at the University of the West of England and took her PhD in Medical Robotics from Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

She and her team are developing tools that will allow the surgeons to wear a sensory exoskeleton which would transmit the movements of their own fingers to the robotic fingers inside the body of the patient. This will help replicate the complexity and functions of the surgeon’s fingers so that the instruments can move in the same way as their hands. The key to Tzemanaki’s approach is that she develops robots that adapt to surgeons not the other way around. The smart gloves will work alongside smart glasses which will allow doctors to see inside the body no matter where they’re stood in the operating theatre.

It is hoped this will offer doctors ‘dexterous movement’ as well as the ability to ‘sense’, ‘see’, control and safely navigate through the procedure. The robotic tool is based on a plan of the Greek robotics engineer. Robotic systems of this kind are designed to assist surgeons to improve their performance in urological, cardiovascular and orthopedic procedures, and in the future they can be used in more complex surgeries.

“The hands are the most dexterous part of the human body. The fingers have incredible possibilities in terms of movements, dexterity, and sensing. So we thought, why not make a robotic instrument with three miniature fingers that would behave like the thumb, index and middle fingers of our hands?” she said at an interview.

This robotic medical technology is being developed within the framework of the European SMARTsurg program, which was recently launched and will be completed by the end of 2019, with almost €4 million of funding from the EU through Horizon 2020. The Hellenic Center for Research and Technology (CERTH) and the private multi-center orthopedic surgery, sports injuries and rehabilitation (TheMIS) in Thessaloniki also participate in the program.

Antonia Tzemanaki has won the Best Presentation Prize in the B.E.S.T (Business and Technology in Surgical Technologies) Innovation Course in France in 2012, the Best Poster Award at the joint 2012 FIRA RoboWorld Congress and TAROS Conference 2012 and the 2nd Prize for Best Poster in the Research Student Summer Connections Event in the University of the West of England, Bristol in 2011. She is a member of IEEE, IEEE Robotics and Automation Society and IEEE Women in Engineering.