Wii Makes Surgeons Better

    January 17, 2008

The Nintendo Wii can help develop surgical skills according to Kanav Kahol and Marshall Smith of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

The two have found that surgical residents performed better during simulated surgery after playing on the Wii console. They say its due to the console’s "Wimote" control system, which allows players to direct on-screen action using a wireless remote that is sensitive to acceleration in three dimensions.

To test the impact of the Wii on surgical skill, the researchers asked eight trainee doctors to play it for an hour before performing a virtual surgery. Wii-playing residents scored 48 percent higher on tool control and performance than those without the Wii practice.

Now they are developing Wii software that will simulate surgical procedures. A training platform based on the console could be used to train surgeons in developing countries instead of traditional virtual training tools that are usually more expensive.

The researchers discovered that games such as Marble Mania, in which players navigate through a 3D maze worked well because it requires small, precise movements of the remote. "You don’t gain a lot from swinging an imaginary tennis racket," Kahol told New Scientist.

"The whole point about surgery is to execute small, finely controlled movements with your hands, and that is exactly what you get playing Wii," said Kahol.