Dr. Lajam is the Chief Safety Officer and Adult Reconstructive surgeon at NYU Langone Orthopedics, An Associate Professor of Orthopedics at NYU School of Medicine she trained at the Mayo Clinic and completed her fellowship at the ISK Institute at Lenox Hill Hospital.
While we use all five senses to experience the world, the sense of touch is one to which we give little thought. However, touch integrates with the other senses in complex and powerful ways – every second of every day. We receive innumerable signals from touch; the glide of fabric across the skin, a breeze on the face, the touch of a keyboard, the resistance of water in a lake.
“Touch,” or somatosensation, is divided in three parts: tactile, proprioceptive, and temperature. “Haptics” includes tactile and proprioceptive feedback. The field of haptics in technology was created to replicate these senses. Research has shown that the human finger can discriminate between surfaces patterned with ridges as small as thirteen nanometers in amplitude1,2, where one sheet of paper has a thickness of 100,000 nanometers. This is astounding when we consider trying to replicate this through technology.
In surgery, touch is crucial to the surgeon’s ability to learn and carry out tasks. Surgery is a multi-sensory skill, where successful outcomes rely on the ability of the surgeon to experience and process somatosensory feedback. What the surgeon sees interfaces with tactile and proprioceptive feedback to allow her to perform and adjust movement during surgery.