Over the past thirty years, video games have become omnipresent in American popular culture. Children and adults alike get involved in gaming for entertainment and social engagement, as well as to take part in learning opportunities as varied as the technology itself. Reading primers are brought to life with colorful graphics and catchy, cartoon-filled comprehension exercises; guitar techniques are divulged by the hottest rock musicians; and precise hand-eye coordination is mastered by the surgeons of tomorrow. The latter is made possible with the help of not the latest console, but rather with game-inspired virtual reality (VR) laparoscopic surgical simulators.
Today’s surgical residents are tech-savvy. Indeed, they're more than likely to have a gaming console at home: according to a 2012 Neilson study, 56% of American households own an X-Box 360, Nintendo Wii, Playstation 3, or similar current generation gaming platform. And so residents are predisposed to appreciate the possibility of training through game-based simulation. VR laparoscopic surgical simulators allow residents to develop motor skills, including tool usage, dexterity, and carpal range, within a software program. During a training exercise, residents use realistic laparoscopic instruments to manipulate virtual objects by following along on a computer monitor. A wrong move immediately prompts the program to notify them through visual or physical cues, enabling understanding and correction of skill deficiencies.
Like video games, VR laparoscopic surgical simulators encourage users to practice until they receive a high score. Residents can complete exercises repeatedly, move on to higher levels requiring more skill and expertise, and see how they rank in comparison to their peers. It becomes an appealing – and even fun – challenge to master the virtual laparoscopic program and rank locally, regionally, nationally, and beyond. And because increasingly advanced educational tracts may be available, residents will always be motivated to continue their training.
Laparoscopic surgical simulators also give residents the opportunity to develop skills in a safe environment. They're free to make mistakes – and learn to improve on them – without running the risk of harming an actual patient. And when it's time to perform an actual laparoscopic procedure, they'll have clocked many hours of training, making them better able to perform at a higher caliber from the start.
Gaming technology can lead users into new worlds, help them unlock artistic potential, and sometimes even educate them in a specialty as delicate, attention-demanding, and intense as surgery. When coupled with traditional surgical training program curricula, laparoscopic surgical simulators allow residents to develop their skills – and have fun in the process.