From Slacker To Surgeon: Do Video Games Make For Better Doctors?

A recent study points to potential benefits offered by the so-called video game generation. According to the study, surgical residents and medical students who played more than three hours of video games per week were less likely to make errors during laparoscopic surgery and suturing drills. In addition, the study showed that certain video games, when used as a “warm-up” prior to performing laparoscopic suturing, actually reduced errors and helped surgeons work more quickly.

Some video games require the player to demonstrate hand-eye coordination and timing to successfully complete. Video game players gain a familiarity with fine hand movements used to control a virtual world. With the rise of robotic surgical procedures where a doctor operates a robot surgeon through remote control, it is no surprise that video games would help some people adjust more quickly. The ability to perform surgery through an interface is a skill that will likely grow more important in the coming years.

The study showed that doctors who were regular game players committed 37 percent fewer errors and scored 42 percent better in laparoscopic surgery and suturing drills than their non-playing counterparts. They also performed the drills 27 percent faster, on average. It was not clear if the advantage held by those with video game experience extended beyond surgical residency.

Source: WCVB.com, “Can Video Games Help Train Surgeons?,” by Tracy Hampton, 4 April 2013