June 4th, 2006

Video Gamers Make Better Surgeons

The next time your mom tells you that you'll never get into medical school if you don't stop playing video games, tell her about research data that says surgeons who play games perform faster and with fewer mistakes than their colleagues who shun games.

A Reuters article recently brought our attention to a new study that supports those findings.

Conducted by Beth Israel Medical Center in conjunction with the National Institute on Media and the Family, this study used a respectable sampling of 303 surgeons who were observed performing a standard laparoscopic training exercise. Laparoscopic surgery involves a fiberoptic instrument inserted through a small incision and then used to observe and manipulate the body's interior. Laparoscopic procedures take a deft touch and are described by Dr. James Rosser as "trying to tie your shoe laces with three-foot-long chopsticks while watching on a TV screen."

Hmmm... That does sound like it would make for a rather fun game.

Researchers found that surgeons who played video games for at least 20 minutes before surgery completed the exercise 11 seconds faster than those who didn't play.

Rosser, the study's lead investigator and the director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute at Beth Israel, understands that patients are not appropriate guinea pigs and has worked for well over a decade to provide surgeons with the tools they need to practice, loosen up their fingers, and get into the right mindset.

After all, opera singers warm up their voices before a performance and big league hitters take practice swings before stepping to the plate. Wouldn't it be nice if the guy removing your spleen could do the same thing?

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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