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Cedars-Sinai Brainworks Conference features 'Robot-Doc'

Middle-school students participated in the Brainworks conference at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for Brain Awareness Week.

Monday marked the seventh year of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's "Brainworks," a conference for over 100 local seventh and eighth graders as part of a commemoration of Brain Awareness Week.

Students participating in Brainworks Conference at Cedars-Sinai (ATVN)
Students participating in Brainworks Conference at Cedars-Sinai (ATVN)

The students who attended Brain Week had the chance to learn about the intersection of the fields of health care and science as they visited interactive stations in the hospital's Department of Neurology. The stations ranged from a rehabilitation and healing station where students had the opportunity to learn what it is like to apply and receive therapy, to a research seminar where students could see and participate in DNA, tumor, and laser experiments.

Fourth-year neurosurgeon resident, Debraj Mukherjee, was invited to speak and believes that it is a "wonderful conference for the kids to learn how to go from being in middle school to how to get into the health care field, particularly the sciences."  The Department of Neurosurgery joins with the Rehabilitation Center at the Medical Center to organize the conference each year. 

Amy Bender, a supervisor of the Rehabilitation Center who helped organize the conference for the seventh year in a row,  noted that Brainworks is "such an important event" and added that "our role is to educate the students who come through to treat those who have had a head injury and those who have had a brain tumor."

According to Issa Mussen, mother of a seventh grader who brought her son to the conference,  was impressed by the talk that Patrick D. Lyden M.D., chair of the Department of Neurology relating to his leading research in stroke research.

"It's important to inspire the kids," said Mussen, "for whatever they wanna do." Mussen's son, Gomez Sandoval, thoroughly enjoyed each of the stations he visited. Although he thinks he would rather be a psychologist than a neurologist, he was fascinated by the new technology that enables one to "help put your socks on if you have had hip surgery," as well as "how to increase your swallowing ability when it is hard for you to swallow."

Finally, the students were able to meet "Robot-Doc" - a dependable machine powered from a computer interface and joystick who seems to be capable of performing tasks 24 hours a day. The robot enables doctors to teleconference and collaborate in the Critical Care Unit at Cedars-Sinai, and has multiple ports for plugging in instruments that enable doctors to view a patient's vital signs.

Brain Awareness Week will go on through Saturday, March 16.

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