World health day

Doctors and video games, a healthy mix? 

On World Health day, during a time when we turn our attention to the saviors of the medical workforce, it has emerged that there's a wide-scale community of doctors that enjoy playing video games just as much as the average player base does.

Med school doesn't mean burying your head in a book

Taking a trainee surgeon from the United Kingdom, for example, Saied Froghi used his spare hours at med school to enjoy games like Halo and Age of Empires. Froghi found that, instead of negatively impacting his learning, his surgery skills were benefited thanks to the time spent playing video games. Froghi is not alone. There's a growing network of doctors and health specialists who argue with a view from a professor who believes ''swiping'' is causing medical students to lose their manual dexterity skills. They say that video games can sharpen the time we take to react in specific scenarios, positively impact manual dexterity, and improve your focus for particular activities. A great "warm-up" session is one way video games are referred to in helping surgeons, or so it is claimed.


Can video games improve consistency?

His concentration saw a significant improvement while playing games. Saied said "If you take the example of keyhole surgery, your eyes focus on a screen, and your hands move synchronously with what you are doing," He further added, "That's a similar scenario to when you are playing football with a games console. Your hands know where the buttons are and how to rotate the instrument." According to an anesthetic Registrar at Sheffield Teaching hospital, Rajin Chowdhury believes video games have enabled him to become "more dexterous." Procedures that are performed remotely via a screen and hand-eye coordination had both been improved thanks to gaming, Chowdhury said. "For example, in an appendectomy, because of the way the camera is inserted in the abdomen when you move it down [in the body], you move it up on the image. When I want to move right, you have to move it left. He added, "It's not intuitive.

Texting improves reaction speeds

"very, very little evidence" is in place to suggest continued smartphone usage negatively impacts students' manual dexterity, says physiotherapist Ashley James. "There's not that research out there," he said. "I'm not saying he [Professor Kneebone] doesn't have a point, but the likelihood is the authority and certainty of which he speaks is probably not based on fact or any evidence." Alluding to a study that took 100 medical students, with half of them as light users, and half of them were more frequent. Mr. James added, "The researchers didn't find anything different in terms of dexterity," He adds, "But another thing they tested in that study was reaction time. "Mobile phone frequent texters had improved reaction time." Mr. James further commented, "It's just one small study. I wouldn't hang my hat on it, but I wouldn't be as forthright on my conclusion as the surgeon is."

Skills ARE transferable

There was a story that circulated following a tweet from a Leeds United Kingdom consultant surgeon that told of a junior doctor citing his Nintendo skills while successfully performing an operation. Vice President of the Royal College for surgeons Susan Hill said, "I have not noticed any great difference in the dexterity of the medical students or junior doctors I come into contact with when compared to other generations. She added, "In fact, I can recall finding some surgical techniques extremely difficult to master myself even though I trained well before the IT revolution," Miss Hill continued: "Although it may be useful for a surgeon to be naturally dexterous, the skills required to operate can be taught. Much of surgical training is about practicing skills such as cutting and sewing over and over until they are perfected. "It's also worth recognizing that some of the skills individuals pick up from their time on screen can be useful to their work as surgeons. We're already seeing the beginnings of a future where a surgeon's ability to interact with technology, be that surgical robots or augmented reality, will become increasingly important."


Repetition brings results

A senior professor in surgery from Edinburgh University suggests that there's research that shows that gaming "is a good warm-up" to carrying out laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery. he said "I think the quality of the trainees is down to the quality of the training," NHS surgeon and the Chairman for the UK and Ireland MRCS exam (the exam which junior doctors have to pass to become a surgeon) Peter Brennan said: "We are not going to let people pass that exam if we don't think they have the skills." He continued to say those trainee surgeons that are "good with their hands" might choose the surgery career path for that reason. Stitching and suturing skills are often improved with practice, and this applies to older generations of medical students as well as current-gen students. Mr. Froghi joked as a modern-day surgeon: "do you think gardening will contribute to the acquisition and maintenance of new skills?"