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UpSurgeOn Academy: A multilevel educational platform for neurosurgical training.

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The first hi-tech/affordable hybrid simulation platform for neurosurgical training

The UpSurgeOn Academy project developed an educational platform to improve global neurosurgical education through hi-tech and affordable technologies.

Health

Neurosurgery is a medical specialisation that includes diagnosis and treatment of disorders affecting any part of the nervous system. It is considered a highly competitive medical field that requires a minimum of 7 years of training in addition to the basic level of undergraduate and medical education. It has been estimated that there is a shortfall of 23 000 neurosurgeons and that 5 million neurosurgical cases go unattended each year worldwide. Training future neurosurgeons effectively, affordably and in a safe environment is a Herculean endeavour. The Italian small and medium-sized enterprise UpSurgeOn was founded by two neurosurgeons in 2017 to improve global neurosurgical education. Partly funded by the EU, UpSurgeOn focused on developing the educational platform ‘UpSurgeOn Academy’ to facilitate the learning curve of future neurosurgeons. Fast track learning tools for future neurosurgeons "Since neurosurgery is considered one of the most difficult disciplines to learn, we designed solutions to speed up the standard learning curve focusing on specific mental and manual skills," says Dr Nicolosi, UpSurgeOn founder. The structure of the platform includes a complete series of apps so neurosurgery students can study all types of procedures and it benefits from the most realistic physical neurosurgical simulation device available (the Brainbox), replicating human intracranial anatomy in morphology and consistency. The platform is extended further through the use of augmented reality, a real-world environment experience, where the objects that reside in the real-world are ‘augmented’ by computer-generated perceptual information with regard to multiple sensory modalities. Project members also worked on the validation of this platform and its introduction to the scientific community via a multidisciplinary team to support every aspect of development, from manufacturing to scientific validation. "Thanks to Horizon 2020 we focused on all the stages of future development and reinforced our aims and our initial team," adds Raimondo, UpSurgeOn Academy project coordinator. Commercialising an affordable, accurate training platform Current simulation techniques are limited by the lack of accuracy in 3D micro-neuroanatomical models, and the need for life-like materials at an accessible price. UpSurgeOn Academy overcomes these hurdles through the implementation of detailed and accurate anatomical 3D models and the use of ultra-soft materials that result in one of the most realistic resemblances of a neurosurgical scenario on the market. Moreover, the very low price makes it highly affordable for its identified and verified key target customers. This includes medical students, neurosurgery residents, neurosurgeons and medical schools. The team plans to make the contents of the platform also available in environments with limited facilities (low/middle income countries). The project will proceed with the commercial development of a potential series of products and their scientific validation and integration in a standard curriculum. "This solution will in turn boost the growth of our company, generating, by the fifth year after phase 2 execution, a cumulative turnover of EUR 15.4 million, with EUR 5.2 million in gross profits, 15 new people hired by the fifth year after phase two execution and a return on investment of 3.3 per cent invested," concludes Raimondo.

Keywords

UpSurgeOn Academy, education, neurosurgery, learning curve, healthcare, anatomical 3D model, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality, hybrid simulation platform

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