The aim of this project was to understand the changes in motor skill that take place during the early phases of learning a new fine motor skill task. For this project specifically, that motor skill was suturing, which we measured by attaching sensors to the surgical suturing instruments that the participants (medical students) used, in order to track and record movements of instruments while participants practice suturing. The participants were trained in the correct technique by use of a video demonstrating the task, as well as an information sheet that described the steps. They were then asked to perform the suturing task. We also captured hand movements during the tasks with a video recording device.

A novice group of participants who had no prior training in suturing were used to carry out the study, in order to allow us to record motor skill acquisition with practice of a novel task. We also used an ‘experienced’ group of participants: this was composed of medical students who had been shown the technique before.

The suturing was carried out with proper surgical instruments and suture material. We used the same artificial suture pads that are frequently used for training purposes in hospitals.

Date: Nov 2010 – July 2011

Funding: EPSRC: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (KTA) £27,074

Researchers: Patrick Olivier (PI), Andrew McCaskie (CI) – Institute of Cellular Medicine, Nils Hammerla, Thomas Ploetz, Roisin McNaney, Sandeep Deshmukh -Institute of Cellular Medicine.