Archive for the ‘Therapeutic applications’ Category

Gamernode News – Gamer uses virtual medic training to help save a life

This is the second post today adding to the mounting evidence that skills acquired in simulated environments does get translated to real life situations.

Quoting from site above:

Twenty-eight year old Paxton Galvanek was driving home on the I-40, about 25 miles south of Raleigh, NC when he witnessed an SUV lose control a flip over several times. While his wife called 911, he stopped the car and ran over to see if he could help.

He then used skills he acquired from playing America’s Army, to save a stranger’s life.

“I have received no prior medical training and can honestly say that because of the training and presentations within America’s Army, I was able to help and possibly save the injured men. As I look back on the events of that day, the training that I received in the America’s Army video game keeps coming to mind,” he wrote to the makers of America’s Army.

“I remember vividly in section four of the game’s medic training, during the field medic scenarios, I had to evaluate the situation and place priority on the more critically wounded. In the case of this accident, I evaluated the situation and placed priority on the driver of the car who had missing fingers. I then recalled that in section two of the medic training, I learned about controlled bleeding. I noticed that the wounded man had severe bleeding that he could not control. I used a towel as a dressing and asked the man to hold the towel on his wound and to raise his hand above his head to lessen the blood flow which allowed me to evaluate his other injuries which included a cut on his head.”

A clip from America’s Army game ‘Hostages in a hospital’, the graphics is not that great, not at par with the best games out there (but this was in 2006). Thought I would include the clip here so that you can get some idea of what the game looks like.


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Serious studies as far back as 2004 showed that video game players may in fact be better laparoscopic surgeons than non-gamers (See the cognitive neuroscience of video games). And now more recently,

Dr Kanav Kohel and Dr Marshall Smith, of the Banner Good Samaritan Medical Centre in Phoenix, Arizona, asked eight surgical residents to play games on a Wii for an hour before their performed virtual surgery using a training tool called ProMIS, which simulates a patient’s body in 3D and tracks the surgeon’s movements as they operate.

Those who warmed up using the console scored 48 per cent better for tool control and performance than those who did not.

Certain games, such as Marble Mania, in which players guide a marble through a 3D obstacle course, were found to be particularly good because they involved small, precise movements of the controller.

Others were less useful. Dr Kohel told New Scientist magazine: “The whole point about surgery is to execute small, finely controlled movements with your hands, and that is exactly what you get playing.

“But you don’t gain a lot from swinging an imaginary tennis racket.”

Surgeons ‘are better after playing Nintendo Wii’ – Telegraph

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Jaron Lanier: "Here’s a happy example of me being wrong. Other researchers interested in Virtual Reality had been proposing as early as twenty years ago that VR would someday be useful for the treatment of psychological disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

I did not agree. In fact, I had strong arguments as to why this ought not to work. There was evidence that the brain created distinct "homuncular personas" for virtual world experiences, and reasons to believe that these personas were tied to increasingly distinct bundles of emotional patterns. Therefore, emotional patterns attached to real world situations would, I
surmised, remain attached to those situations. The earliest research on PTSD treatment in VR seemed awfully shaky to me, and I was not very encouraging to younger researchers who were interested in it."

Actually it came as a surprise to me that Jaron Lanier did not believe that Virtual Reality Therapy could be a viable option to augment or supplement mental health applications. As he explained, this probably has to do with his understanding of how the brain works at the time. I have very little understanding of how the brain works but I find that it is easy to convince myself that the real world is really a simulation in our brains. So there is no such thing as ‘virtual reality’ in the sense that is commonly understood. The degree of solidity of a reality only reflects the degree to which it can be shared. As we move towards more solid ‘virtua realities’ through better rendering technologies for dynamic and persistent virtual worlds, there will be little difference between the solidity of the real and the virtual. So doing therapy in safe virtual worlds to explore mental dysfunctions will provide better opportunities for patients to decouple who they really are from their ‘avatar’ representations and its problems that they have learnt ‘unconsciously’ to identify with. Living in the virtual will provide patients the time to rewire their brains, or let their brains get rewired into a more functional state.

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The game industry for some years have pointed the way towards more innovative and engaging teaching methodologies. It is clear that ‘engagement’ is something successful game designers know about. Before long, we will certainly see those elements injected in ‘serious’ education efforts. Are we anywhere close to having physicians, doctors, residents, nurses and other health care professionals learn using such tools? What are the barriers that are still currently in place that slow down adoption of these tools? Are the barriers really more technical than cultural? What do you think?


Review of the ‘game’ on amazon.com

Cure a cold, or amputate an arm, all without cracking open a bottle of pills or getting bloody. The latest in the Trauma Center series of games by Atlus, Trauma Center: Second Opinion lets you play the surgeon in an exciting medical drama simulation game. You’ll need to cure patients of

Your the doctor. Time to heal the sick! You might even save some lives. View larger.

Make life or death decisions. View larger.

Fix those broken bones. View larger.

There’s even hospital gossip. View larger.

everything from routine medical maladies to life-threatening designer viruses.

Game Storyline
Sure, we’ve all imagined what it would be like to become a doctor. Years of medical school, residency, and clinic duty eventually pay off in a rewarding position saving people’s lives. Or, you could skip all that and just put in a few hours after dinner. Trauma Center puts you in the position of having to make life or death choices at the operating table.

Heart surgery and tumor removal might look easy from the morphine end, but how do you think the doctor feels? Well, you’re going to find out! In Trauma Center, patients’ lives are in your hands. You’ll experience all the drama we’ve come to expect from the medical field. So go ahead, toss on some scrubs and step into the O.R.–it’s time to play doctor.

Trauma Center: Second Opinion, is a robust “Wii-make” of the game “Under the Knife,” and features a totally revamped medical toolkit that includes scalpels, forceps, defibrillator paddles, syringes, and more–all designed specifically for use with the Wii Remote.

Other game features include new graphics and animation, new and remixed musical themes, new surgical implements (including a defibrillator), and operation types, a second playable character with all-new missions, multiple difficulty modes for gamers of all skill levels, and a revised control system that takes full advantage of the revolutionary Wii Remote.

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Playing video games has never been considered exercise, but researchers at the Mayo Clinic have issued a study expressing tacit approval for the concept behind Nintendo’s new Wii video game console. The researchers concluded that, if kids are going to spend hours playing video games, it’s better for them to play games that require them to move, rather than just sit on the couch. The study is published in the current issue of the medical journal Pediatrics.


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