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Surgeons should do warm-up exercises

February 9, 2009 | 12:23 pm

Surgery1The increasing use of robotic and minimally invasive surgery means doctors today need to have superb manual dexterity and fine-motor skills. These operations involve inserting a tiny camera and instruments into small openings in the body to cut, remove or mend tissues. A new study suggests that surgeons may benefit from pre-operative warm-up exercises to prepare them for the cognitive and physical challenges ahead.

The study, from researchers at Arizona State University, found that 15 to 20 minutes of simple exercises leads to a substantial increase in the proficiency of surgical skills by raising alertness and protecting against fatigue. The study involved 46 surgeons who practiced a series of standardized exercises involving such things as hand movement, tool movement and cognitive skills. The surgeons were then tested by performing a difficult procedure in a simulation. The study is published in this month's edition of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

"Warm-up exercises are a 'common sense' practice in many high-stakes professions, such as professional sports or dance," said the lead author of the study, Kanav Kahol, in a news release. "This study begins to lay a scientific foundation for adopting this approach in routine surgical practice, which has become increasingly rigorous and demanding."

-- Shari Roan

Photo: A surgical instrument that is attached to a robotic arm. The robotic arm represents the surgeon's hand. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times