Surgeons Who Play Video Games
NEW YORK (AP) -
All those years on the
couch playing Nintendo and PlayStation appear to be paying off for
surgeons. Researchers found that doctors who spent at least three
hours a week playing video games made about
37 percent fewer mistakes
surgery and performed the task
27 percent faster
than their counterparts who did not play video games.
"I use the same
hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery,"
said Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, 49, who demonstrated the results of his
study Tuesday at Beth Israel Medical Center.
Laparoscopic surgery — using a tiny camera and instruments controlled
by joysticks outside the body — is performed on just about any part of
the body, from an appendix to the colon and gall bladder.
The minimally intrusive surgery involves making tiny keyhole
incisions, inserting a mini-video camera that sends images to an
external video screen, with the surgical tools remote-controlled by
the surgeon watching the screen. Surgeons can now practice their
techniques through video simulations.
Rosser said the skill needed for laparoscopic surgery is
"like tying your
shoelaces with 3-foot-long chopsticks."
"Yes, here we go!"
said Rosser, sitting in front of a Super Monkey Ball game, which
shoots a ball into a confined goal.
"This is a nice,
wholesome game. No blood and guts. But I need the same kind of skill
to go into a body and sew two pieces of intestine together."
The study on whether good video game skills translate into surgical
prowess was done by researchers with Beth Israel and the National
Institute on Media and the Family at Iowa State University. It was
based on testing 33 fellow doctors — 12 attending physicians and 21
medical school residents who participated from May to August 2003.
Each doctor completed three video game tasks that tested such factors
as motor skills, reaction time and hand-eye coordination.
"landmarks the arrival of Generation X into medicine,"
said the study's co-author, Dr. Paul J. Lynch, a Beth Israel
anesthesiologist who has studied the effects of video games for years.
Kurt Squire, a University of Wisconsin researcher of video game
effects on learning, said that
"with a video game, you
can definitely develop timing and a sense of touch, as well as a very
intuitive feel for manipulating devices."
Squire, who was not involved in Rosser's project, said applying such
games to surgery training
"could play a key role in
preparing medical health professionals."
Beth Israel is now experimenting with applying the findings.
Rosser has developed a course called Top Gun, in which surgical
trainees warm up their coordination, agility and accuracy with a video
game before entering the operating room.
"It's like a good
Rosser said, "you
have to warm up first."