Did You Know? Video Games Make for Better Surgeons

Are you a clinical nerd? In case you’ve never heard this term before, a clinical nerd is someone who loves video games and other geeky things, but also enjoys the world of medicine. You might be studying for a medical profession or maybe you already work in one. These two passions don’t often go together, though. The world of medicine is grounded in science, and rarely crosses over into the fictional world.

However, studies have shown a fairly strong connection between video games and medicine. According to these studies, not only do certain video games prepare you for real-world scenarios, but the stamina, eye-hand coordination, and dexterity required to play these games gets you physically ready to be a surgeon and perform other procedures.

Florida Hospital Uses Video Games to Prep Before Surgery

In fact, one hospital in Florida is taking this study so seriously that they actually keep a large screen TV in the breakroom for surgeons to use during their prep time. It’s standard procedure to prepare for complex medical procedures by warming up with a few video games. They’re doing this based on the findings of one study that showed that physicians who played video games for at least six minutes before a surgery performed faster, and more accurate procedures, resulting in better outcomes for their patients as a whole.

The study was performed by the Florida Hospital Celebration Health in Kissimmee, Florida, under the direction of general surgeon Dr. James “Butch” Rosser. He monitored 300 surgeons while they performed a simulated laparoscopic procedure. Half the doctors had played a variety of video games directly before the surgery, including Super Monkey Ball and Super Monkey Ball 2, on both the Wii and the GameCube.

Each surgeon played three tasks within these game platforms that totalled approximately six minutes. The tasks tested factors such as motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time. The other 150 surgeons performed their usual pre-surgery prep.

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In almost every case, the surgery results were better for those who had spent time playing video games beforehand. “Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than three hours per week made 37-percent fewer errors, were 27-percent faster and scored 26-percent better overall than surgeons who never played video games,” the study found. “It is the error reduction that will have the most significant impact on patient safety.”

Bringing Technology Into Medicine

These results are pretty exciting because it’s just one more way that the oversaturation of technology can actually do society some good. Video games often get a bad rap for being time wasters, but it’s good to know that they’re doing some good in the world, and that their invention is aiding in modern medicine.

“We grow up with computers, with PDAs, with video games systems, with the Internet, with handheld video games, with cable TV, with remote controls,” said Dr. Paul J. Lynch, a Beth Israel anesthesiologist who has been studying the effects of video games on the brain for decades. “We’ve grown up saturated in this technology era that we are in and now we are bringing these skills into the medical profession.”

So if you’re worried about going into pre-med and not having any time for video games, there’s no need to fret. Not only will you get to do what you love, but you’ll be able to justify it as homework. You’re just working on improving your hand-eye coordination, motor skills, and reaction time!

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