In what has to have been one of the most fun research studies in the history of academia, 21 surgical residents had to play video games on the Nintendo Wii “for an hour a day, five days a week, for four weeks” during their residency. In an article on NPR, a group of Italian researchers fostered the project and then had the residents perform laparoscopic surgery with interesting results. I can only hope the many hours I’ve spent playing FIFA will one day have the same impact on my typing.
Laparoscopic, or “keyhole,” surgery involves the use of small video cameras to allow a surgeon to see what they’re doing without creating a large incision. According to the article, playing Wii five days a week actually served to improve surgical performance by allowing the students to gain experience in dealing with a screen image. As laparoscopic surgery involves looking at a monitor rather than the person, the residents who spent their time playing Wii proved to be more efficient in surgery because they were used to looking at a screen while moving in reality.
Gregorio Patrizi, MD, PhD, professor at the University of Rome Medical School, noted that the research was “fun,” saying “research doesn’t need to be boring.” Later on in the article, he discussed his students’ success, “you have to move in a three-dimensional space, but you have a two-dimensional image on your screen.”
What games were they playing, you ask? According to the article, “Patrizi and his team had surgical residents play three Wii games -- tennis, ping pong and one that involved shooting balloons from an aircraft.” These were chosen because “they all required strong hand-eye coordination and three-dimensional vision of a space.” While Patrizi pointed out that video games like these could potentially be used to “supplement surgical training at a low cost” in comparison to costly simulators, it was also noted that the benefits of the games stop being beneficial as a surgeon improves.
Video games aside, playing games has always been beneficial when it comes to learning. In school, we played flash card games, jeopardy and even chess to improve in our studies because they shared a connection to the work we were doing. With MLPW coming up, what can your laboratory do to improve work quality while keeping things upbeat?