Evidence supporting the use of immersive virtual reality (iVR) training in orthopaedic procedures is rapidly growing. However, the impact of the timing of delivery of this training is yet to be tested. This study investigated whether spaced iVR training is more effective than massed iVR training for novices learning hip arthroplasty.
24 medical students with no hip arthroplasty experience were randomised to learning total hip arthroplasty using the same iVR simulation training either once-weekly or once-daily for four sessions. Participants underwent a baseline physical world assessment to orientate an acetabular component on a saw bone pelvis, and a baseline knowledge test. In iVR, we recorded procedural errors, time, numbers of prompts required and path lengths of the hands and head across 4 sessions. To assess skill retention, the iVR and baseline physical world assessments were repeated at one-week and one-month.
Baseline characteristics between the groups were comparable (p > 0.05). The daily group demonstrated faster skills acquisition, reducing the mean number of procedural errors from 76.8±37.5 (S1) to 11.1±10.1 (S4), compared to the weekly group improvement from 71.1±19.1 (S1) to 17.2±10.6 (S4), p < 0.001. The weekly group error count plateaued remaining at 16±6.7 at 1-week and 17.5±8.5 at one-month, the daily group however, showed poor retention with error counts rising to 17.8±10.5 at 1 week and becoming higher than the weekly group at one-month to (23.2±13.0 vs 17.5±10.5). A similar effect was noted for procedural time and the number of assistive prompts. In the real-world assessment, both groups significantly improved the accuracy of their acetabular component positioning, these improvements were equally maintained.
Daily iVR training facilitates faster skills acquisition, however weekly practice has superior skills retention. Skills learnt using both regimes demonstrate sustained transfer to the real-world.