Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

November 23, 2012

Slate: High-school video gamers match physicians at robotic-surgery simulation

The applicability of video game skills to modern warfare-in the use of drones, in particular-is well known. But a new study suggests, not surprisingly, that gamers might also have an edge in robotic surgery.

Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston tasked OB/GYN residents and 10th graders who regularly play video games to perform tasks on a robotic-surgery simulation-like suturing. On average, the high-school students, who played two hours of video games a day, performed just as well as the residents-a few individual teenagers even did better. (Some have reported that the study showed the teenagers did better than the residents, but the difference in their performances is statistically insignificant.)

UTMBG's Sami Kilic, the lead author on the study, says high-school students who played virtual doctor were devotees of first-person shooters (especially the Call of Duty franchise-"a wild game," Kilic says), as well as games featuring sports, strategy, and auto racing. Those who devoted their time to shooting games and sports games did the best at the robotic-surgery simulation-perhaps, he speculates, because the unpredictability of the gameplay was similar to surgery.

The question, Kilic says, is whether spending two hours a day at a game, as these high-schoolers did, might hinder other areas of their development, especially social skills. He hopes to explore that issue soon, with the help of behavioralists.

In the mean time, he says, "I'm not encouraging [teenagers] to spend countless hours in front of the computer games, because our job is not to create the best surgeon ever or the best soldier ever … in this age group. They have to have the fundamental human being skills in their developing age."

Of course, it's not exactly surprising that "video games are making us better at video games." Robot surgery will be increasingly common in the coming years-so it's important for people to understand that gaming skills may have real-world applications, or at least virtual applications with real-world consequences.

Text Only
Washington Post Features
  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 17, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • pizza-300x216.jpg VIDEO: Pepperoni, extra cheese and...pot?

    A Vancouver pizzeria has added a unique item to its menu: Customers with a prescription can order pizza infused with marijuana.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo