The Unexpected Activity That Can Enhance A Surgeon's Performance

Picture the scene: You arrive home from school on a Tuesday afternoon. Teachers, principals, bullies, and hall monitors have tested your nerves for nearly six hours straight. You're exhausted, you're frustrated, and you're fed up. You also can't stop dreading that massive pile of homework waiting for you in your backpack like some ravenous creature just aching to suck more peace of mind from your tired brain. For the next few hours, you decide to kick back and play some video games in an effort to decompress. Just as your PlayStation starts to boot up, your mom bursts into the room and starts hounding you to turn off the console and get your school work done before dinner. When will it end? 

Now imagine an alternate scenario where you're actually doing your homework like a responsible little kid who wants to get good grades and eventually land a solid job upon entering adulthood. Instead of patting you on the head and remarking on how good a boy/girl you are, your mom snatches the assignment from under your pencil and asks, "Did you remember to play your video games today?" For some kids, that's nothing short of a dream come true, but for an aspiring surgeon, it could actually be considered a practical investment of one's time, as NBC News reports. 

Video games can make you a better surgeon

That's right. According to various experts, playing video games can actually improve your surgical skills. While most people have been told throughout their lives that virtual gameplay is nothing short of a waste of time that will undoubtedly rot one's brain away, researchers have accumulated an astonishing bulk of evidence to suggest otherwise. "Surgeons who had played video games in the past for more than three hours per week made 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster, and scored 42% better overall than surgeons who never played video games," Jama Network reported in 2007. 

Of course, sitting in front of a game console isn't as crucial to one's medical aspirations as studying doctor's books and learning how to actually perform surgery, so don't get too excited. All the same, the precision and hand-eye coordination utilized during gameplay is actually conducive to the kind one uses while wielding a scalpel (via NBC News). A history of virtual violence might actually come in handy, as those surgeons who have only been playing video games for a few years make 32% (as opposed to 37%) less errors, while those who have been gaming throughout the majority of their lives perform just a tad bit better, as Jama Network reports. Perhaps there was more to Dr. Mario than we initially assumed. 

Laparoscopic surgery: A real life video game?

According to WebMD, laparoscopic surgery utilizes a tiny video game camera that's inserted into the body to help doctors make more tactful, accurate incisions. "Laparoscope, a slender tool that has a tiny video camera and light on the end. When a surgeon inserts it through a small cut and into your body, they can look at a video monitor and see what's happening inside you," they explained on their website. 

NBC News shares that certain medical experts, including one Dr. James "Butch" Rosser, believe strongly that adept video game players who are also surgeons perform laparoscopic surgery more effectively and with far more confidence than those who don't participate in recreational gameplay. As it turns out, those skills also translate to general surgical practices as well. "I use the same hand-eye coordination to play video games as I use for surgery," Rosser explained (via NBC News). You can read more about an extensive study performed in 2002 that explored the supposed correlation between video games and surgical skills here