Research Project

Medical training simulator design and testing

Practice in clinical physical exams

January 11, 2021

Angela Lee, Ninghuan "Miki" Wang, William Carson, Leigh Baumgart, Loi Huynh, Sarah Rigsbee, Tracey Krupski, Seth Yarboro, Reba Moyer Childress, Marcus Martin, Gregory J. Gerling

Prostate examination simulator

The use of medical simulators has become increasingly widespread as the use of animals and patients for the training of novices has come under scrutiny and as medical errors (44,000-98,000 unnecessary deaths per year) are becoming better understood by the Institute of Medicine. We have worked with clinicians and medical and nursing educators to create human-machine interfaces to train health care practitioners. Specifically, we designed, built, and evaluated a physical-computerized simulators to train clinical palpation skills in breast and prostate screening. The goal is to ensure that clinicians’ skills are systematically trained, time-effective and highly accurate. We built the simulators after collecting measurements of prostate tissue stiffness obtained in the clinic as well as psychophysical evaluation of the tactile detection and discrimination thresholds of those who perform these exams.

A mobile device to quantify the forces and angles required to overcome knee arthrofibrosis in the clinic

Knee arthrofibrosis, a condition where scar tissue limits motion of the knee, is encountered after 4 - 35% of ligament surgeries. We designed, built and evaluated a means of quantifying the forces and angles required to overcome arthrofibrosis during knee manipulation. To quantify relevant cues, the device was built to be mobile and attach to a common knee brace. Fixtures were designed to afford normal physician postures and manual control of torque. The device utilizes load cells, rotary potentiometers, 3D printed parts and integrated circuits. Graphical user interfaces on a mobile phone allow in-the-loop evaluation and a database was used for subsequent, offline analysis.


  • Huynh, L., Yarboro, S.R, and Gerling G.J. A mobile device to quantify the forces and angles required to overcome knee arthrofibrosis in the clinic [DOI][PDF]. IEEE World Haptics Conference, 2017.
  • Kowalik, C.G., Gerling, G.J., Lee, A.J., Carson,W.C., Harper, J., Moskaluk, C.A., Krupski, T.L. Construct validity in a high-fidelity prostate exam simulator [DOI][PDF]. Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases, 2012.
  • Carson, W.C., Gerling,G.J., Krupski, T.L., Gundersen, C.A., Harper, J.C., and Moskaluk, C.A. Material characterization of ex vivo prostate tissue via spherical indentationin the clinic [DOI][PDF]. Medical Engineering & Physics, 2011.
  • Wang, N., Gerling,G.J., Moyer Childress, R., and Martin, M.L. Quantifying palpation techniques in relation to performance in a clinical prostate exam [DOI][PDF]. IEEE Transactions on Information Technology in Biomedicine, 2010.
  • Baumgart, L.A., Gerling,G.J., and Bass, E.J. Characterizing the range of simulated prostate abnormalities palpable by digital rectal examination [DOI][PDF]. Cancer Epidemiology, 2010.
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