Video Games Beneficial for.. Surgeons?

Trainee surgeons playing video games before they head into simulated surgery? Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the Bannar Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix has found it may be time well spent. The Nintendo Wii video game system uses a novel "Wiimote" control system, which allows players to direct on-screen interaction using a wireless wand that detects three dimensional movement. New software is now being designed to accurately simulate surgical procedures, which might be more practical than traditional virtual training tools, which are typically more expensive.

To test how the Wii affected surgical skill, researchers asked eight trainee surgeons to play it for an hour before preforming simulated surgery. The doctors who played the Wii scored 48 percent higher on tool control and performance than those without the Wii warmup.

Researchers also found that games that required small, precise movements of the wand were most beneficial, while other games using broad motions were less so. Researchers of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York had also found video games to boost dexterity crucial to performing minimally invasive surgery.

 Head researchers, Kanov Kahol and Marshall Smith, believe the Wii has the most potential of any console for trainee surgeons. They claim, "The whole point about surgery is to execute small, finely controlled movements with your hands, and that is exactly what you get playing Wii.


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