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Could Video Games Give Aspiring Surgeons An Edge?

In recent years, video games have made headlines for their negative impact on children. But now we're hearing a different side of the story; the idea that video games could help create the next generation of doctors.

"Just like video games, with robotics, you actually have no feeling about what's going on and the patient is totally disconnected from you," said Dr. Zane Kevin Basrawala.

Dr. Basrawala, a local urologist, performs surgeries with machines that use interfaces similar to those in video games. Machines like the DaVinci Surgical System use joysticks and buttons to complete laparoscopic procedures in the abdomen or pelvis.

Like traditional video games, the device requires on point hand-eye coordination.

"I wouldn't be surprised if I got on this robot machine with my 10-year-old son, and we did a task together, that he would be able to keep up with me simply because it is made for your hand-eye coordination," Dr. Basrawala said.

This theory is leading doctors and even some medical school educators to believe that today's video game generation will have an edge when it comes to training for these evolving robotic-assisted surgeries.

"So how have video games helped?" asked NBC Charlotte's Sarah French.

"I think that transition may indeed be easier for those people who have had a long run of video game experience," said Dr. Basrawala.

In fact, one study found that better video gaming skills resulted in fewer laparoscopic surgery errors and faster procedures.

"Surgeries where you used to have to contort your body in certain directions and use your hands and so forth, but now the robot actually does a lot of the heavy lifting, so to speak," Dr. Basrawala said.

Video games are already being used to train surgeons at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine. Doctors trained on video games have been shown to outperform their peers.

Dr. Basrawala said while video games can't replace years of training, they appear to be a permanent part of a new healthcare landscape.

"My mentors who were great and really brought me along within our group, they are not video game players. So that's where I think the value of course experience, but the value of the technology is bridging the gap," said Dr. Basrawala.

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