Background Excellent psychomotor skills are required by surgical trainees and many training programmes include simulated skills assessments as part of the selection process. Previous studies have demonstrated that practice using laparoscopic simulators improves psychomotor skills in the operating theatre. Some sources suggest that extraneous influences, such as video gaming experience, may improve simulator performance.
Methods We performed comparative analysis of dexterity and laparoscopic skills among medical students with a negligible gaming history and video game players (Gamers) with an average gaming history of 13.2 yrs and playing time of 20 hrs/week. Medical students were randomised to 10 hrs practice using a laparoscopic simulator (Lapsim), 10 hrs visuospatial skills training using Pictorial Surface Orientation software (PicSOr) or no practice (Control). Performance was objectively assessed by measuring the completion time for each task.
Results See Table 1
Conclusions and recommendations Students who trained for 10 hours on the laparoscopic trainer performed the best on skills testing. The Gamer group performed significantly better across all tasks when compared to the control group, even those who received visuospatial training. They also had a tendency toward increased dexterity when compared to controls. These findings suggest that pre-existing hand skills such as gaming, piano playing, sewing etc. are potential determinants of surgical psychomotor skill. Such factors may be considered during the selection of surgical trainees.
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