Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Nintendo Wii and virtual surgery

From New Scientist -- A Wii warm-up hones surgical skills -- an excerpt:

You might think it a bad idea for trainee surgeons to play games on the Nintendo Wii when they should be studying, but it might be time well spent.

Kanav Kahol and Marshall Smith of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, have found that surgical residents performed better during simulated surgery after playing on the Wii console. They put it down to the console's
novel "Wiimote" control system, which allows players to direct on-screen action using a wireless wand that detects acceleration in three dimensions.

Now they are designing Wii software that will accurately simulate surgical procedures. A training platform based on the console, which costs about $250, might be more practical for trainee surgeons in the developing world than traditional virtual training tools, which typically cost a great deal more.

To test how the Wii affected surgical skill, the researchers asked eight trainee doctors to play it for an hour before performing a virtual surgery. They used a training tool called ProMIS, which simulates a patient's body in 3D and tracks the surgeon's movements as they operate. They fed the movements to an algorithm which scores the virtual surgeon on a range of factors. Wii-playing residents scored 48 per cent higher on tool control and performance than those without the Wii warm-up.
(More on virtual surgery in this past post and on the Clinical Cases blog - virtual knee and hip replacement)

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