Warming up with Wii makes surgeons level up

The popular media has long sensationalized video games for its violent content acting as so-called “murder simulators,” but perhaps now some will see the other side – video games being a life-saving simulator.

Games series such as Trauma Center for the Nintendo DS and Wii allow gamers to play the role of a surgeon to save the lives of patients in dire need of help. According to a recent study, real-life surgeons may be able to boost their life-saving skills with the Wii.

Dr. Kanav Kohel and Dr. Marshall Smith, of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Centre in Phoenix, Ariz. found that surgeons who “warmed up” by playing games such as Marble Mania for an hour scored 48  percent higher on a virtual 3D training tool called ProMIS than those who were did not play the Wii beforehand.

The researchers attribute the increase in performance to the fine movements with the Wii Remote required to control certain types of games. On the other hands, games that called for less specific, intricate movements were less helpful.

"You don't gain a lot from swinging an imaginary tennis racket," Kahol said in a New Scientist story. "The whole point about surgery is to execute small, finely controlled movements with your hands, and that is exactly what you get playing Wii."

The research team is currently designing Wii software that will be even better suited in training surgeons, potentially leading to a low-cost training system for doctors located in facilities unable to afford high-end simulators.

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