Study shows playing video games could improve laparoscopic surgery performance

Veterinary students who play video games might actually be setting themselves up for better performances during laparoscopic surgery, says a new study published in the Feb. 1 edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA).

Twenty-nine third-year veterinary students from Purdue University participated in the study, which sought to determine whether there is a correlation between the students' video gaming skills and laparoscopic surgical skills, 3-D spatial orientation skills, and traditional surgical skills.

According to researchers, the 29 students who volunteered for the study had completed surgical skills training using inanimate objects but had not engaged in orthopedic simulator training or live-animal surgery. They were instructed to play three video games: a skeet-shooting game, an archer game, and a target-shooting game. Following their gaming sessions, they participated in a laparoscopic surgical skills simulation evaluation using laparoscopic surgical trainer boxes, as well as a traditional surgical skills evaluation and a 3-D spatial analysis evaluation.

After observing the students and analyzing their post-gaming surgical performances, researchers reported in JAVMA that, "Results of the present study indicated video game aptitude was significantly associated with laparoscopic surgical skills scores, but not with traditional surgical skills scores, for third-year veterinary students."

While the researchers indicated that more studies are needed on the subject, they also wrote that video games warrant consideration as an additional way to train veterinary students because they are portable, easy to set up and use, do not require a specialized skills laboratory, can be used in small spaces, and require no consumables.

"Use of video game training in addition to to benchtop models and surgical simulators should be considered for surgical training of veterinary students, interns, and residents. Further studies are warranted to determine methods for improvements of traditional surgical skills in third-year-veterinary students," they wrote.

Read the full study on the JAVMA website or in the Feb. 1, 2014, edition of the journal.

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