The best video gamers possess quick reaction times and expert hand-eye coordination, all similar qualities to that of a great surgeon. These similarities beg the question of whether or not gaming skills have any effect on basic robotic surgery skills, using the Intuitive DaVinci Robot, which we recently put to the test by using expert robotic surgeons, expert video gamers, medical students and lay people as subjects in a robotic simulation study. Previous research has shown that video game use could improve performance in basic laparoscopic surgical tasks. However the results from our study may be surprising to the scientific community.
The subjects, including students from University of Central Florida (UCF) College of Medicine and UCF Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, performed three perceptual tests on a computer and then the basic skill exercises on a robotic surgery simulator. The results found that video gamers do not have enhanced skills when performing basic robotic tasks, over medical students or laypeople. This may indicate that a gaming skillset does not necessarily produce an advantage to acquiring robotic surgical skills.
So why would a gamer perform better in laparoscopy, but not in robotics? One idea is that the two-dimensional view in a video game translates more appropriately to a laparoscopic approach as opposed to the three-dimensional view surgeons see in robotic surgery. Thus, it is important that surgical education continue to examine the nuances that may exist between surgical modalities, and measure competencies using other medical robots, and determine the best way to tailor educational experiences for optimal training benefit.
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