U.S. Army invests in Immersion's trauma simulators to advance combat medical training

San Jose 26 February 2003Immersion Medical, a wholly owned subsidiary of Immersion Corporation, has been awarded a research and development grant by the United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity at Fort Detrick, Maryland, from the Department of Defense Small Business Innovation Research (DoD SBIR) programme. This grant, phase II of Immersion Medical's ongoing relationship with the SBIR programme, will be used to develop a training simulator for needle thoracentesis, a procedure where a physician inserts a needle and catheter through the chest wall and into the space around the heart and lungs.

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This catheter works like a release valve for air that has been trapped or accumulated in the chest cavity, which causes the lungs to collapse. "This SBIR-sponsored research expands Immersion's reach into the military sector", stated Richard Stacey, vice president and general manager of Immersion Medical. "Realistic experience with life-saving procedures is an essential component of combat readiness."

Immersion's patented haptic simulation technology will help army medical professionals feel subtle nuances of different human tissue while simulating a medical procedure, offering physicians many advantages over training on cadavers or anaesthetised animals. Not only do they need minimal set-up and preparation, the simulators are portable, reusable, programmable, and provide a more reliable training experience.

For example, the simulators accurately mimic human anatomy and physiological responses. At the same time, programmed differences can depict subtle variations and numerous, realistic complications not possible with other training methods. With the SBIR grant, Immersion Medical will develop a comprehensive, portable computer-based simulation for training in needle thoracentesis.

The system will include refined simulation hardware with advanced educational software, designed to integrate the procedure on a haptic feedback device attached to a laptop computer. Army and civilian medical professionals will be able to practise real-world scenarios on a variety of digital patients before performing difficult insertions on real patients.

Founded in 1993, Immersion Corporation is specialised in developing, licensing and marketing haptic technology and products. Bringing value to markets where user/product interaction needs to be made more compelling, safer or productive, Immersion helps its partners develop and increase competitive advantage and broaden market reach by making the use of touch sense feedback as critical a user experience as sight and sound.

Immersion's technology is deployed across personal computing, entertainment, medical training, automotive and three-dimensional simulation markets. Immersion and its wholly owned subsidiaries hold over 186 issued patents worldwide.

Immersion Medical designs, manufactures and markets computer-based medical simulation systems worldwide. The systems integrate proprietary computer software and tactile feedback robotics with new economical, high-powered computers to create highly realistic simulations. The company's three key product lines are the CathSim Vascular Access Simulator, the AccuTouch Endoscopy Simulator and the AccuTouch Endovascular Simulator. More news on Immersion Medical is available in the VMW January 2003 article Study proves medical simulators reduce number of patient-based procedures required to learn endoscopy skills.


Leslie Versweyveld

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