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Lehigh Valley

Robotic Surgery Simulation Olympics shows off LVHN's surgical robots

Competition let kids test machines

Robotic Surgery Simulation Olympics

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - A high-tech competition of a different kind took center stage at the Promenade Shops in Center Valley Wednesday night. And no, it had nothing to do with shopping. This competition was all about surgery, and you didn't have to be a doctor to scrub in.

A robot carrying a torch signaled the start of the competition. Wednesday night was the finals for the first ever Robotic Surgery Simulation Olympics.

Going head to head, the competitors used the same simulator used to train surgeons at Lehigh Valley Hospital.

"You have two straps strapped around your fingers and then you control it with the straps," explained Brenden Beck.

The 10-year-old faced off against teens and adults in the senior competition. After completing a task, the challengers received a score.

"We had to stack blocks on each other and then if we got the blocks on in time we could put dominos on," said Beck.

"This is actually very sophisticated software," said Glenn Carstater with Mimic Technologies. "Using virtual reality software as if they're actually moving objects around, but it's being recreated through a computer 3D stereoscope."

About 300 students and adults came out to two qualifying events. They were narrowed down to the 24 who were at the Wednesday night finals. And it was tense competition.

Brenden wasn't the winner of his category, but the first, second and third place contestants in the senior and junior competition took home prizes.

The event was designed to educate and promote robotic surgery.

"We can go through small incisions and we can have fine dexterity and fine precision on our movements," said Dr. Martin Martino with the Lehigh Valley Health Network. "It's dramatically changing what we do."

Dr. Martino hopes to make the Simulation Olympics an annual event.

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