The popular Nintendo Wii video game system is helping radiology students reach new levels! Faculty from Weill Cornell Medical College have coupled the motion-sensitive Wii remote with the same computers used to analyze scans, and have found that the Wii remote makes examining CT and MRI images more ergonomic, heightens the interactivity during classes, and may potentially improve the ability to interpret scans.
"The remote is very intuitive — cycling through the scans is a matter of rotating your wrist," explains Dr. George Shih, a radiologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College, who, along with his colleagues, helped develop the system that links the Wii remote to the diagnostic computer. Their research was presented recently at the 2009 American Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS) Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass.
Traditionally, radiologists might spend hours at a time, with only short breaks, reading scans using a typical mouse and keyboard. Many of the movements are repetitive and require precise mouse-clicking and scrolling, which can be taxing on the body and may lead to repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
"The easiest way to avoid injury is to change positions," says Dr. Shih, and that is exactly what using the Wii remote allows. By simply holding the remote in their hand and rotating their wrist, radiologists can gradually inspect the scans, while sitting in any position they find most comfortable.
Dr. Shih demonstrated that a person using the remote could sit back and relax in his seat, with his arms draped to the sides, and still maintain the same ability to interpret scans as compared to rigidly sitting at a desk using a mouse and keyboard. Within the remote lies a device that measures 3-D motion, called an accelerometer, which allows the user to advance through the scan with simple movements.
"We are not currently using the Wii remote in actual clinical diagnosis," says Dr. Shih, "but we're hoping to show that it can become an alternative that is at least as accurate as using a traditional keyboard and mouse."
Currently, the Wii is being used in radiology courses at Weill Cornell as a tool for teaching students. Since the Wii remote is wireless, with a wide range, instructors can hand the controller to students sitting in the lecture hall to scan images themselves. He says this boosts the class' interactivity, allowing the students to interpret scans rather than simply observe the instructor.
"It's exciting to see faculty members creating innovative tools to push the boundaries of not only education, but also technology that has the potential to change the entire field of radiology," says Dr. Robert Min, radiologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center and the chairman of radiology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
To create the device, Dr. Shih collaborated with a longtime friend and colleague Dr. Michael Brown, and with Lu Zheng from School of Computing at the National University of Singapore. Drs. Matthew Amans and Cliff Yeh, radiology residents at Weill Cornell, were also involved in the development and design of the system.