Recently, I’ve been exploring technology from fields outside of medicine that may soon have an influence in the OR. In the September issue of Surgical Products, for example, you will read about a surgeon, Steven F. Palter, MD, founder and medical director of Gold Coast IVF where he specializes in infertility and reproductive endocrinology, who has helped transform surgical viewing in the OR. First, Dr. Palter helped introduce HDTV capability to the surgical suite, and now, he’s working to develop 4K Ultra HD, 3D Video and a new concept— “futurevision”—that uses autoflourescent technology to go beyond what the eye can see in the OR.
While much of these developments have yet to become standard surgical practice, it seems that step is fast approaching. In fact, Dr. Palter is not the only surgeon looking outside of medicine to develop technology in the OR. During my recent trip to the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons (SLS) annual meeting in Boston last week, I learned about other aspects of surgery are using advancements outside the realm of medicine to benefit the OR.
Case in point: surgical training and video games.
I met a surgeon at the meeting, James "Butch" Rosser, MD, FACS Chief of Minimally Invasive Surgery Director of the Advanced Medical Technology Institute, who explained to me his mission in developing a surgical training method that combines the technology—and the fun—utilized in video gaming with laparoscopy.
During our brief conversation, Dr. Rosser discussed how he is using video games as a way to train surgeons on laparoscopy. His program, the Rosser Top Gun Laparoscopic Skills and Suturing Program, helps introduce video games to medical training and conducts proficiency evaluations on surgeons to measure how they perform. Further, Dr. Rosser has expanded his Top Gun Program to kids, inspiring the younger generations to become surgeons when they grow up through the fun of surgical simulation. Check out his website to learn more.
This idea of bridging video games and surgery at first seems far-reaching, but once you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Much of the learning-curve behind laparoscopy involves a surgeon being to able watch what they are doing on a screen, while operating the instruments with their hands.
These are the same eye-hand motor skills necessary to successfully play video games. In playing a video game, all the action is with our hands, but we watch what we’re doing and react based on what we see on the screen. It’s fast-paced. It forces us to react quickly and efficiently. It allows us to measure how well we perform. Whether it’s a 60-year-old surgeon or a 6-year-old kid, a video game can help to hone skills necessary to successfully perform a laparoscopic procedure. In fact, Dr. Rosser practices what he preaches. In an article published by The New York Times, he says he “warms up” before a surgical case by playing his favorite video game, Super Monkey Ball.
I’ve never been much of a “gamer.” I’ve even previously deemed video games a waste of time. However, there is clearly a bridge being built between the video game and the surgical suite, and it’s allowing surgeons to learn minimally-invasive techniques in a fast, fun way while inspiring the younger generation to become surgeons—and showing that the multitude of hours spent playing Mortal Kombat, or any other video game of choice, may be worth it after all.
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