When you’re playing Nintendo you may be learning more than how to control a voracious gorilla, rescue a kidnapped princess or negotiate a go-cart course, according to a new study.
You just may be learning skills to help you perform laparoscopic surgery.
In a study posted online Wednesday in the open access journal PLOS ONE, researchers from the department of surgical sciences at the University of Rome measured the surgical skills of students who trained on a Nintendo Wii.
Across four tasks measuring 16 skill-sets on a simulator, such as locating objects with a camera and photographing them, and touching flashing, colored balls with its corresponding tool, Wii team outshone their traditionally trained colleagues in 13 of them. Dr. Mario indeed!
“Laparoscopic simulators represent a satisfactory response to this request but their high costs have limited their spread,” the study authors wrote. “Video-games may be a cheap and widely available product, helping to develop cognitive skills that, apparently, can be transferred in improved surgical performance.”
Laparoscopic gallbladder removal requires surgeons to remotely operate tools inside the patient’s abdomen, including a fiber-optic camera. Using a surgery simulator, students were graded in four tasks involving camera movement, locating objects, moving objects and completing the procedure.
According to this new study, the students who played on the Wii showed greater efficiency and accuracy in handling surgical tools. The study involved 42 first- and second-year graduates studying general, vascular and endoscopic surgery. Half the group was trained on regular simulators and the other half spent one hour a day, five days a week for four weeks playing on a Wii.