Gaming skills give surgeons upper hand

By Monica Burke
March 15, 2007

The Record/MCT

Video games have established themselves as a permanent fixture in American society. These addicting games have won over teens and adults alike. However, they have also been proved to help some surgeons step up their game outside the gaming sphere.

Published in the February issue of the Archives of Surgery, surgeons who play video games excel in the skills needed to perform laparoscopic surgeries. These surgeries involve using small instruments inside the body through a small incision.

During a surgical skills test performed at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, the nine doctors who had played video games for about three hours a week, made 37 percent fewer errors, performed 27 percent faster and overall completed with a score of 42 percent better then their non-gaming counterparts.

One of the study’s authors, Douglas Gentile, said. “It was surprising that past commercial video game play was such a strong predictor of advanced surgical skills.”

The study claims that video games can improve “fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, visual attention, depth perception and computer competency.”

According to Dr. James Rosser, a doctor at Beth Israel and an author of the study, “Video games may be a practical teaching tool to help train surgeons.”

The authors of the study do not encourage the playing of video games as the sole source of entertainment for children. 94 percent of Americans play video games; however, they have also been linked to aggressiveness, poor grades in school and subsitite for exercise.

Gentile says, “Parents should not see this study as beneficial if their child is playing video games for over an hour a day. Spending that much time playing video games is not going to help their child’s chances of getting into medical school.”

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Monica Burke

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