Canadian Space Technology to Help Sick Children


Uploaded on January 15, 2015


Canadian Space Technology to Help Sick Children

2015-01-22 - Researchers at the SickKids Hospital Centre for Image-Guided Innovation & Therapeutic Intervention (CIGITI) in Toronto, Canada, turned to the technology behind Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency's robotic handyman on the International Space Station, to build a new robot capable of performing delicate procedures on little patients more accurately and faster than a surgeon's hands. This new application of Canadian space technology is set to pave the way for new pediatric surgical tools that will make procedures safer and less invasive. The third version of the robot is currently being tested and shows promising applications for fetal, neurological, cardiac and urological surgeries.

(Credit: Canadian Space Agency)


Launched on March 11, 2008, Dextre is the most sophisticated space robot ever built. This extremely advanced, highly dexterous dual-armed robot carries out delicate maintenance and repair tasks on the International Space Station. Dextre, a descendant of Canadarm, has "hands" equipped with special sensors that give the robot's computers the ability to detect how hard it should push or pull, and in what direction, within millimeters of its target.

Now, the technology behind Dextre is finding its way back to Earth.

Researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto partnered with MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates (MDA) to develop the initial prototype for KidsArm, the first image-guided robotic surgical arm in the world specifically designed for pediatric surgery.

The new prototype is currently being tested, and researchers are hoping that the technology might soon lend a helping hand to pediatric surgeons around the country.

The surgical robot is operated using a pair of hand controllers in conjunction with high-precision, real-time imaging technology.

Equipped with miniaturized dexterous tools that can cut, coagulate, apply suction, or use a laser, KidsArm is capable of working 10 times faster and with more accuracy than a surgeon’s hands to perform intricate procedures such as the suturing of blood vessels and tissues.

While more testing is needed, the robot is promising for fetal neurological, cardiac and urological surgeries.

One day, this technology may help children by making medical procedures less invasive and less painful, allowing them to return home faster so that kids can be kids.

The Canadian Space Agency: Thinking Outside of the Globe


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