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Using the Wii to View Patient Images

When you stop and think about it for a moment, the most logical and intuitive way to view a collection of pictures - which is what most radiology scans consist of - is to reach out with your hand and sift through them.

Yet, ever since scans were digitised, radiologists have been interacting with them via keyboard and mouse only. That is, before the Wii came along.

The thought of combining a console gaming platform and attempts to improve healthcare, may lead to horrific visions of medical practitioners whittling away hours, gaming in the staff room. These thoughts would be the ones commonly summoned by those who have no real idea of the potential of the peripherals that accompany such systems.

In the case of the wii, it's the wiimote, which is for all intents and purposes, a very, very cheap to acquire 3D motion pointer system. If it could be co-opted, and used to flick through patient data in 3D, it would be a very useful addition to any worker's toolkit.

Well, that is what a study performed at the New-York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Centre in New York has done.

"We have developed a new fun and exciting way for radiologists to navigate through patient images using hand movements instead of basic keyboard and mouse clicks," said Cliff Yeh, MD, Matthew Amans, MD, and George Shih, MD, lead authors of the study. "The device from the Nintendo Wii gaming system has both an infrared sensor and an accelerometer, which when used together, can allow for flexible ways to interact with radiology images."

"The traditional keyboard mouse user interface limits the way a radiologist can interpret images and manage an ever increasing workload. The Wii remote may alleviate those limitations. In addition repetitive motion injuries may be mitigated by altering usage between a device like the Wii remote and the traditional mouse because they use different sets of muscles. Small movements can manipulate the image on the screen and buttons can change windows and move between different series'. It is a lot more flexible than just a simple mouse."

The equipment, which is not used on actual patients yet, allows the radiologist to stand there, pick up a wii-mote and point it towards the display screen, then sort through images with a flick of the wrist, selecting and enlarging desired images, or desired parts of images.


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