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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 11:34 GMT
'Wii warm-up' good for surgeons
Nintendo Wii
Wii players use a wireless wand that detects acceleration in three dimensions
Playing computer games such as the Nintendo Wii can improve a surgeon's performance in the operating theatre, a US study shows.

Only certain games are effective - those requiring delicate movements.

The fine hand control required to play these games acts as a warm up and hones scalpel skills the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Centre team claim.

Now they are designing Wii software that will accurately simulate surgical procedures, New Scientist reports.

They asked eight trainee surgeons to spend an hour playing the games on a console before performing "virtual reality" surgery on a computer system.

Wii warm-up

Game players scored nearly 50% higher on tool control and overall performance than other trainees.

Marble Mania, in which a ball is guided through a 3D obstacle course - was particularly effective in the study.

Researcher Kanav Kohel explained that the type of game play was crucial.

"You don't gain a lot from swinging an imaginary tennis racket.

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

The fine control needed to move a virtual marble around a 3D maze is similar to the skills needed to perform keyhole surgery, for example.

Colleague Mark Marshall said the games consoles were cheap enough to be used to train surgeons in poorer countries where cutting-edge virtual reality systems were not available.

The researchers will present their work at the Medicine Meets Virtual Reality conference in California later in January.

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