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Surgeons Use Gaming to Improve Skills

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the article-should-have-used-the-term-skillz dept.

Games 36

The New York Times (registration required) has an analysis of several surgeons at Beth Israel Medical Center who utilize video games to improve their operating room hand-eye coordination. From the article: "The complex manual dexterity required to be a stellar video gamer and minimally invasive surgeon are strikingly similar, said Dr. Rosser, chief of minimally invasive surgery and director of the hospital's Advanced Medical Technology Institute."

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Hmmm... (4, Funny)

general_re (8883) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796435)

So if your chart says "pwned!!!1!!1", that's a good thing?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796554)

Yeah. On the other hand, if it says "mad lagz0rz" or "I SHOOT THEM AND THEY DON'T DIE!!!" (anyone playing SOCOM II would know) you'd better prepare a lawsuit.

Re:Hmmm... (1)

FunkLord84 (838348) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796601) &client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&q I loved the first life and death as a kid. Never got anywhere close to successful as a surgeon, but I did like carving pictures in peoples stomachs.

Take that! (1)

Rs_Conqueror (838344) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796479)

And they say Halo 2 is bad for me. Well who's laughing now? I have a medical stamp of approval!1!eleven!

I've been hearing this on TV for a while... (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796506)

...or at least many similar stories about laparoscopic sugery and how video games improve the needed skillz*ahem*skills. There's a lot of precision involved in both surgeries and games, and I've seen many people suck at games (not that I'm any better) because they can't do things precisely. (You know, like aiming.*) I'm not surprised in this article's case.

*although lots of online games lag so much one wonders who or what, if anything, to aim at for that lovely moment of pwnage.

Not the first time games have been used for this. (1)

Celestial Avenger (826964) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796586)

... Oh, come on, you all know the Operation commercial theme song!

You just have to hope... (4, Funny)

Fitzghon (578350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796780)

...that they haven't been playing too much Doom 3.
DOCTOR (regarding the screen): Well, it is very dark.... And, OH MY GOD A ZOMBIE!!!! AAHHAAHH!!!111!!!1!! DIE MOTHERF*CKER!!!! oh, oops... (nervous laugh) don't worry, you can survive with only one kidney...

Re:You just have to hope... (1)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 9 years ago | (#11804120)

I wouldn't associate Doom 3 with a brightly lit operating theater. Not one bit.

as seen on wired, slashdot (5, Informative)

supersuckers (841107) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796790)

here [] and
here []

quick! (5, Funny)

Korgrath (714211) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796998)

"oh no! he's going into cardiac arrest! We must save him!" up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, SELECT, START. *random chime* "Phew! good work everyone!"

little kids (1)

zerkon (838861) | more than 9 years ago | (#11797134)

have been telling their parents this for years... I remember trying to pull that on them when I was still in high school

Improve what? (0, Troll)

melikamp (631205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11797207)

I read it as

Surgeons Use Gaming to Improve Kills

Re:Improve what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11799455)

Wait a few weeks until the next time a surgeon makes a really bad mistake, and this will be the headline!

Not the only ones.... (3, Informative)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 9 years ago | (#11797283)

The Air Force has known about the tendency for video games to improve reflexes and the ability to make quick judgments for years, now. Of course, it only works when the video games are hard.

Re:Not the only ones.... (1)

Nine Tenths of The W (829559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11800299)

So why do they keep killing the allies? Have they been training on Battlefield 1942?

Re:Not the only ones.... (1)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 9 years ago | (#11800408)

Killing the allies? Do you know what you're talking about? 'Cause I don't.

Re:Not the only ones.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11801405)

Maybe he's talking about the propensity of Patriot batteries to shoot down friendlies. This isn't really the units fault, but seems to be due to them sometimes not linking them together properly to take advantage of the distributed IFF crosschecking system.

Why dont they just use gamers? (1)

mnmn (145599) | more than 9 years ago | (#11797439)

With n00b surgeons standing around supporting one or two CS or doom or quake champs of the city, busy stitching arteries together, with red bulls in their bloodstreams.

Getting to a tumor can be called CTF.

Nothing new... (2, Insightful)

Wraithfighter (604788) | more than 9 years ago | (#11798165)

I"ve seen this kind of thing before, actually. Basically it was about how some kind of brain surgery that uses tiny robots to do the work, and how the surgeons were using video games as practice, so to speak.

The fact that video games improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time isn't anything new, its just that there haven't been a lot of applications for it.

Well, besides the military at least.

Most jobs rely on careful, methodical actions and thinking, rather than quick reflexes. So twitch games don't really boost many crucial job skills.

Re:Nothing new... (1)

Bongo Bill (853669) | more than 9 years ago | (#11799364)

That's where strategy games come in.

Re:Just to be sure.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#11815538)

You are talking about "olde school" (even older than old school) turn-based strategy games, not the real-time strategy games right? The RTSs are just as twitchy as FPSs, the only real difference is you have to multitask more in a RTS.

Dammit (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 9 years ago | (#11799589)

I've never been quite the same since my surgeon found the big-head code.

Do the slashdot editors even read these things? (4, Funny)

cgenman (325138) | more than 9 years ago | (#11799777)

It's spelled "Skillz"

hmm (1)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11800497)

I wonder if the doctors get to use their favourite game controller for the surgeries...

I'm so used to the PS2 controller, that I suck at any game played with the Xbox controller(s).

I can't even play GTA3 and VC on the PC because I'm so used to playing it on the PS2.

And I tried those adapters to plug a Ps2 controller in a PC, but GTAVC for PC doesnt allow some controls (including some helicopter commands) to be remapped...

Re:hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11804039)

Try this thing: /US/EN,CRID=2225,CONTENTID=8674

It a blatant rip-off of the PS2 controller, and it comes with software that lets you reconfigure all the buttons, plus default configs for most popular games. Playing GTA Vice City with that feels exactly like playing it on the PS2.

It is interesting that this comes as any surprise- (2, Insightful)

Master_T (836808) | more than 9 years ago | (#11800555)

It is interesting that this comes as any surprise because we have known forever that things of that nature improve hand-eye cooridination and reaction. Simulators are rarely even close to the real thing yet we use them. Not just because they train actions, but because they build up a pattern of reaction and expectation. In the same way, video games build motor-specific muscles and synapses that any reaction or hand-eye based activity can benefit from. True playing madden football isn't going to teach you to catch, but it could certain help you to improve your cooridination when using your fingers and thumbs. It is the same as suspecting that a talented pianist might be either quicker to learn, or quicker period, at typing.

I play a stringed instrument, but I was a gamer first, and my ability to play in tune and to use vibrato (place my fingers in the exact right place to produce desired pitches and vibrate my fingers back and forth to create a warm sound respectively) is much better than average and is sometimes better than the abilities of those who are overall much better players than I. I don't think it is a coincidence that I am a gamer and I was quicker to develop skill at precision movements like these.

Someday.... (1)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#11801036)

...someone will program an emulator for Slashdot. Then the editors will be able play all their favorite old stories without duping them. []

You know ... (1)

ogonek (833611) | more than 9 years ago | (#11801039)

if you get caught gaming when you are supposed to be working, don't expect your boss to believe you are in fact improving your work-related skills.

I know mine didn't believe it. So now I am improving my 1nva51v3 sur93ry sk1llz full-time. :(

Alpha and Beta brainwaves (4, Insightful)

FirienFirien (857374) | more than 9 years ago | (#11801594)

I read an article somewhere reputable (no idea where, it was about 7 or 8 years ago now) about computer gamers and enhanced skills. The factors involved were

Coordination - better than average fine motor control skills (small-scale precision), but average large motor control (eg swinging the entire arm to a point on the wall)
Tracking - gamers can track on average around 8 items in their field of view simultaneously, more than the general average of 5-6
Concentration - staying focused on a task without distraction for (sometimes significantly) longer times than average.

The study had worked with brain scans to test alpha and beta brain activity levels - alpha waves are indicative of more automatic control, beta waves are more complex. A link had been found with the skills listed above being seen in computer gamers; the gamers were far faster than average at settling from beta to alpha waves when introduced to an activity.

The article finished off by mentioning the groups most likely to display alpha patterns - Transcendent aspirants (eg Buddhist zen masters), Sportspeople who get to The Zone (intense physical activity, all pain is completely suppressed - very useful), and high-activity computer gamers.

It has to be said... (1)

elrick_the_brave (160509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11802285)

I for one.. do not want to be the one who gets the surgeon who says "Game Over" when there's no more to be done...


One question (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803494)

Before I start the operation, do you by chance have an extra life?

Wow (1)

tommyth (848039) | more than 9 years ago | (#11803934)

I knew doctors were smart, but to convince the higher-ups that playing video games on company time improves their skills, I am amazed.

Of course I'm joking, I have excellent hand-eye coordination from years of video games. It's the arm-eye, leg-eye, foot-eye and pretty much every other body part-eye coordination that leaves much to be desired.

Re:Wow (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11804354)

I am one of Dr. Rosser's medical students who has helped him with his video game studies. Dr. Rosser is an excellent surgeon who does do a lot of these "think different" types of medical research (along with research in "traditional medicine"). I've written or helped write a number of powerpoints/abstracts/papers that he has presented to medical conventions and scientific meetings. As you correctly alluded to, I have seen myself that his video game papers and findings can often be initially viewed as not valid of an M.D.'s research time. But when he throws them the p-values of 99.99% significance and t-tests showing almost pure significance, stating how these $99 machines can generate the same (or better) results than the $100,000 simulators (along with increased participant desire to actually use them), and combined with his very good presenting skills, he usually gets the loudest applause of the conventions.
For our studies, we used:

Games that are non-violent. While technically GTA might have been usable for our study (i can't say for sure it would have), there are too many people in the media and politics who want nothing better than to blame every ill (Columbine, high school dropouts, etc) on video games. I doubt Super Monkey Ball can generate the same hatred.

This particular study specifies that "3 hours of video game play" a week demonstrated higher skill (fewer errors and faster times) in surgery. Any more time than 3 hours showed NO MORE IMPROVEMENT over those who played only 3 hours. We DID state studies showing negative effects of video games, but those involved MUCH more than 3 hours per week (~25 minutes per day on average) gameplay. Thus Dr. Rosser concludes that no more than 3 hours a week is necessary for these benefits.

Anyone from the New York City area wanna maybe help out a teeny bit with a future video game study (statistics, web page creation, etc)? I'm not in any position to give a job or anything, but if you wanted some medical/math/research/programming credit on your resume, something might be arrangable. Gimme a buzz (not an ad or solicitation. we don't "need" more people, but whenever these stories get out there is SO much positive buzz and people finally happy for some non-hatred of video games that we get people asking how they can help).

Any other questions about the study? Reply here or email me.

Re:Wow (1)

tommyth (848039) | more than 9 years ago | (#11805515)

I'm not exactly sure why you replied to my comment, but I did say that gaming has given me very good hand eye (or finger-eye, I suppose) coordination. I just think it's awesome that they get to game at work. Now if only I could convince my boss that games help improve my typing skills...

Anyway, are the $100,000 simulators you speak of simulate surgery? Because as much as I'd want my surgeon (sp?) to have good coordination and finger movement skills, I think also having simulated surgery training would be a benifit as well. Is the 25min/day gaming break intended to replace the simulated surgery, or suppliment it?

And just out of curiosity (because I didn't RTFA), what console was used in these studies?

Re:Wow (1)

BTWR (540147) | more than 9 years ago | (#11805574)

At first I replied to quickly say how you were right that doctors in general do not take this research very well.

To answer your first question - yes, the simulators DO simulate surgery. But they are not very good in simulating actual surgery conditions. Ever been to a dave and busters or Jillians? Ever use that arcade game "Goal!" where you kick an actual soccer ball and it shows up on screen? While in theory it simulates a kick, i highly doubt it would allow a professional to improve his or her skills. Same with the surgical simulators. It doesn't really help surgeons at that level. The effects of video games can be as helpful.

And for your second question, we used all 3 consoles (Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube).

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