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Wii for surgeons

Q&A with Dr. Mark Smith and a news report regarding use of Nintendo Wii to train surgeons from News 8 Austin.

Mark Smith, M.D., a gynecological surgeon at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, explains how the Nintendo Wii is helping train new surgeons.

Q: Part of your job is to train residents learning to be surgeons?

Smith: Yes. I have been in teaching for over 20 years and one of my responsibilities is training residents in surgery.

Q: When you started your job did you ever think you would be using video games to train?

Smith: I have never thought I’d be in video games to this extent. We have surgical simulators in virtual reality, but this has taken it to a whole new level, which is exciting.

Q: What have you found that the Nintendo Wii can do for practicing surgeons and for people learning how to perform surgery?

Smith: One of the problems we’ve had over the years is we had no method to teach surgeons surgical skills without going into surgery. We now have simulators that help them develop those skills. The problem is they are incredibly expensive — like a flight simulator for a pilot. This gives us a much less costly way to train these fine motor skills that the surgeons employ during surgery.

Q: Can a video game really help somebody improve as a surgeon?

Smith: We used cyber gloves which computerize hand movements of surgeons and we put those on surgeons. We have data on that. We put them on people playing the Wii. There is a very, very high correlation between the two and this is documented statistically.

Q: What did you find happens to the skills of people when they train this way as opposed to those who don’t train this way?

Smith: They develop an increased efficiency, less errors, more fluid movements … they’re just better.

Q: What has been the traditional method of training?

Smith: Up until the last ten years, they learned in actual surgery … what’s called the apprentice method — standing beside an expert surgeon, watching and helping to do it.

Q: Does this generation of doctors, having grown up playing video games, tend to be better at this training?

Smith: Actually, they tend to be better, but that’s not all of it. We can expand the skills that they have developed growing up. They certainly jump in a lot quicker. There is less training to start. For instance, in laparoscopy, which has differences than the more traditional type surgery, but it’s really as much an innate ability as it is for what they’ve grown up with.

Q: Have you adapted the Wii to use actual surgical tools?

Smith: We are using the actual tools. What some people don’t realize is there are very basic skills we have to teach. If you teach someone to drive a car, you first have to teach them how to put the gas down … put the break down. You have to learn all these skills before you can drive a car.

Q: What kind of skills are they learning by doing this?

Smith: Very fine motor skills … very precise, exact movements that surgeons need to know and have the ability to do. This teaches them those fine movements — fine motor skills — so that they are very proficient in those types of skills when they go into surgery.

Q: What did your study on this new training technique show?

Smith: Our initial pilot study … we showed a 50 percent improvement in their surgical skill level just by playing on the Wii.

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Top three free iPhone health apps

More and more health iPhone applications are available each day in the App Store. Most of them are for sale, but there are some which you can download for free. Here is my current top three of free health apps.

1. Epocrates Rx

Includes the drug guide, formulary information and drug interaction checker. Also offers continual free updates and medical news.

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2. Eponyms (for students)

Offers a list of 1,600 common and obscure medical eponyms (e.g., Rovsing’s sign, Virchow’s node) with descriptions.

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3. OBWheel

A simple pregnancy calculator to determine the estimated delivery date and gestational age.

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Blogging from my iPhone

I’m sitting on my balcony, sun is shining, Miles Davis playing on my stereo, cold drink in one hand, iPhone in the other, writing this post.
Ever since Apple launched it’s App Store I’ve been testing numerous third party apps on my iPhone. So far this one from Word Press, which I’m using to write this post, is one of my favorites.
I can manage my old posts, write new ones, assign them to categories, tag them, everything I normally do on my computer. All in a nice and intuitive interface. I can even post photos, take a look….

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If you are using some other blogging software rather then Word Press, do not despair. Just visit the App Store, there is a great chance iPhone app for you blog engine already exists.

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Two Medical Winners of Apple Design Awards 2008

The Apple Design Awards is a special event taking place at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. The event is meant to recognize technical excellence, innovation, and outstanding achievement in software development. This year, two medical applications managed to win awards.

MIM for iPhone, which I presented in an earlier post, is Best iPhone Healthcare & Fitness Application.
MIM software for iPhone

MIM for iPhone is a revolutionary medical imaging application that provides multi-planar reconstruction of fused data sets such as PET/CT, which are crucial in diagnosing cancer. MIM lets physicians retrieve patient images wirelessly on their iPhone or iPod touch, manipulate and adjust them using simple gestures to isolate crucial pieces of data, and gather important data for a patient diagnosis on their rounds. MIM’s features include true dynamic multi-modality image fusion, multi-planar volumetric image reconstruction, linear measurement tools, Quantitative Standardized Uptake Value ROI, fusion blending between PET/CT and PET/MR, and display of PET, CT, MR, and Nuclear Medicine images. MIM takes advantage of technologies including Core Animation, Foundation/Core Foundation, UIKit, WebKit, and the accelerometer.

Macnification 1.0 won the award of Best Mac OS X Leopard User Experience.

Macnification

Working with scientific images has never been easier or more rewarding than with Macnification 1.0, the new scientific image management solution for Mac OS X Leopard. Analogous to an Aperture for digital microscopy, Macnification helps scientists, engineers, and academicians import, organize, annotate, analyze, modify, compare, and publish huge volumes of microscopic images in a wide variety of formats. Macnification takes advantage of the advanced capabilities and efficiencies of Objective-C 2.0 and leverages an abundance of Mac OS X frameworks, including Image Kit for image handling and display, Core Image for fast, non-destructive image modification, QTKit for the creation and display of time-lapse Quick Time movies, Core Animation for live-updating stack views, and Core Data for automatic data saving and the implementation of Macnification’s complex relational data model.

Macnification also goes the extra mile and integrates with numerous Mac OS X technologies allowing users to search for images using Spotlight, preview images using Quick Look, export image measurements to Numbers (and Excel), and back up their entire image library with Time Machine. What really puts Macnification over the top is its gorgeous, easy-to-use user interface. Closely adhering to Apple’s Mac OS X Human Interface Guidelines, Macnification focuses on exactly what its audience needs, while surprising and delighting users with its subtle use of animation, appropriate use of transparency, and unwavering attention to aesthetic details.

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Native medical applications for iPhone

Apple Worldwide Developers Conference is taking place this week in San Francisco. Today, as a part of it, we saw yet another legendary keynote from Steve Jobs. It was all about the new iPhone, which is now faster, richer with new features and more affordable. Substantial part of the keynote was dedicated to the developers of native applications for iPhone, who had the chance to demonstrate their applications soon to be available through the iPhone app store. App store is launching in a month and will enable you to download and install third party applications to your iPhone. These are some great news for all iPhone users, but especially to those interested in medicine. It seams that we have a lot to look for, as some great applications will be awaiting for us as soon as the app store opens.

Two applications presented at today’s keynote were related to medicine, and you can see a video of these demonstrations at the end of this post.

Modality will offer interactive flash cards for medical students, but also a lot more. On their website they also prepared a lot of other interactive learning applications for medical students, as well as healthcare professionals. What a great way to learn!

MIMvista has, on the other hand, presented a really powerful radiology application. It is incredible that such an application can run so smoothly on a phone. Currently there are no additional information on their website about this iPhone application, but you can learn more about their applications for PC’s to give you a general idea what to expect.

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