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12:04 PM on 08.02.2012 // Elsa
I hope my surgeon is a gamer!



I've talked before about how gaming can help relieve post-operative pain and recovery from surgery (Gaming through the Pain ) and some evidence seems to additionally suggest that video games can not only help the patient, but can also help the surgeon.

The Oncology Game was developed to promote teamwork among the various specialties that can handle a single cancer case. Various patient scenarios were developed and the students worked in pairs from various disciplines to take the virtual patient through surgery, radiation and various oncology treatments in the best order. The results of the game were positive and the students additionally felt that the game improved their understanding of the principals of oncology and their appreciation of the various specialties that contribute to the patient's care.
There are other games that help medical professionals better spot drug abuse, there are games that help teach triage and disaster response, in fact there are so many games that help with training and learning in the medical field that it's almost impossible to list them all now. UMC even has a virtual skills lab where many different procedures are practiced in a virtual setting. Gaming as a teaching tool has long had proven results and the medical profession is no different, except that using games as a training tool allows for a safer environment than using real people... a key difference especially if you have an appointment with a newly graduated proctologist!



It's not just specific games being used, but gaming in general is increasingly being regarded as a tool for medical professionals that may help in developing specific skills. In a 2007 study with laparoscopic surgeons it was found that those who regularly played video games made 47 percent fewer errors and performed 39 percent faster. In a 2008 study done at the Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, it was found that surgical residents performed 48% better with tool control and performance during simulated surgery after playing on the Nintendo Wii console. Yet another study found that regular gamers had a sharper eye for finding target objects on a cluttered computer screen and it was suggested that radiologists searching X-rays for tumors might benefit from playing certain video games (specifically shooter games). The medical field is one area where fine motor skills, attention to detail, spatial skills and remote manipulation is increasingly part of the field... something that gamers tend to do as part of the hobby. Interestingly, the current record holder for Donkey Kong is Dr. Hank Chien, a plastic surgeon!

It's not just the games themselves, it's also the technology of gaming. Robotic surgery is growing quickly largely due to it's accuracy and the need for less invasive surgeries which usually lead to quicker recovery times and fewer complications. Robotic surgery done from remote locations is being tested and has future applications at disaster sites or where a qualified surgeon is simply not available. The patient could simply be wheeled into an robotics equipped portable surgery unit and qualified surgeons with various specialties from anywhere in the world could operate the unit. This is somewhat of interest for myself as there is only one local oncologist in my area, and frankly it would be nice to have a different surgeon. One of the current disadvantages to robotic surgery is that the surgeon has no force feedback or no sense of touch. Some enterprising engineering students have modified the Xbox Kinect unit to possibly send spatial information back to the surgeon, providing a reasonably priced solution to this issue. Other surgeons are actually using Kinect in operating rooms to allow doctors to quickly access computer information without leaving the sterile field. They are able to use hand motions to quickly access and view MRI's, CT scans and other medical information.


Personally I doubt my own Oncologist is a gamer. She has a poor bedside manner and I suspect that if she does game she's one of those people that's all about their KRD and not helping out the team.... and she probably teabags someone else's kill! Still, I don't have much choice as she's the only qualified specialist in my area and I suspect that she would be awesome at robotic surgery where she doesn't have to deal with the actual patient. Luckily my G.P. is a sweetheart and I'm betting she plays iPhone games! My surgery date got bumped around a bit, but is now set for tomorrow... so fingers crossed that it doesn't get changed again. I haven't been blogging a lot lately because I've been cleaning and cooking some meals for the freezer... and most importantly I've been prepping my game collection! One of the best/worst aspects to the surgery is the longer recovery time of limited mobility - but it gives me a great excuse to game - a lot. I'll also likely hang out on Dtoid a lot more after surgery and produce a lot more blogs (and comments) and I will apologize in advance if I piss anyone off with an inappropriate comment... being that I may well be on drugs.

Again, this surgery isn't a bad thing. It's been very effective at keeping my condition in check and preventing it's spread. I always get a bit nervous beforehand, and that's natural, even though I've had this surgery many, many times before. I just try to stay positive and think of this more as my gaming vacation rather than surgical recovery! I'll have my PS3, my Xbox, my iPad and my laptop. I've created my character in Dragon's Dogma and am looking forward to that game and additionally I started a second run through of Oblivion. Wow... Oblivion is a MUCH longer game than Skyrim! I have double the time into the game already and haven't even touched two of the major questlines. Also, has anyone else noticed that the character creator isn't all that accurate in Dragon's Dogma?? I created a slightly older lady with gray hair, a few wrinkles, average weight and slightly bigger boobs. In game I got a chunky old lady with boobs hanging down to her belly button! I yelled at my husband to come see what I'll look like in another few years - he was not impressed! LOL! I also finally caved and bought PSN Plus, so I now have Just Cause 2, Saint's Row 2 and a bunch of other games to play (and I just read that we'll be getting The Walking Dead episodes 1 and 2 for free as well!)

While 90% of what I do when recovering is gaming, I also do read a bit and managed to get all 3 of Dean Koontz's "Odd Interlude" series from the library for my iPad, and I have a couple of movies on Crackle that I'd like to watch. No, Striptease Samurai Squad didn't make the "must watch" list... but I had to laugh at the movie description of a "scantily clad, time-traveling female ninja who goes back 300 years to 18th century Japan". All I could think of is... "isn't this a video game??"! I might also jump in for my free trial month of Netflix. I don't generally watch a lot of TV and tend to game in the evenings instead - but one can only do so much gaming!

Try not to be jealous of my gaming vacation... and try to ignore me if I'm on the Dtoid too much or being obnoxious!.

... and maybe my next surgeon will be a gamer! They might be playing a game in New York while I'm on an operating table elsewhere... and their expertise might finally cure this form of cancer I have. Games may be just a fun pastime to most of us, but they do have amazing real-world applications that could some day save a life - yours or mine.


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