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Surgery residents practice using Hollywood special effects

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ATLANTA -

Some young surgeons in Atlanta are getting a taste of Hollywood to help them get ready for the operating room.

Surgery isn't for the faint of heart. To be good at it, you can't be squeamish or easily spooked. You have to be steady and practiced. But finding a volunteer to be practiced on is not so easy.

Surgery residents at Atlanta Medical Center have found the next best thing: Hollywood-style body parts that feel like the real deal.

"Doing is a lot more important for us than seeing," said Mike Clark, a resident at Atlanta Medical Center. "You can see something 100 times, but if you're not actually doing it, it's totally different when you're the one holding the knife."

Most residents train on cadavers, but they're expensive, and in short supply.

Atlanta businessman Mark Maloney and his son Jay - an art school graduate trained in special effects - created and donated Symbod cadaver simulators.

They're donating some of them -- things like feet, ankles, knees and even simulated skin -- to Atlanta Medical Center to give surgery residents hands-on experience sewing up wounds and setting broken bones.

"This eliminates all of the risks that go along with having a body part that has come from somebody that has donated it to the lab," said Dr. Stephen Cane.

Inside the artificial knee are the bones, cartilage ligaments and tendons that allow residents to practice for everything from traumas to common sports injuries.

"Getting into a joint in an actual patient can be tough; 10 seconds of carelessness can lead to 10 years of cartilage damage," said Casey Spivey, a second year resident. "So using this knee to try to triangulate, to get your instruments in and do it in a safe, careful fashion -- I think anything that helps you do that is a good thing."

Atlanta Medical Center is a level one trauma center -- one of only two in metro Atlanta --  so when a major medical emergency occurs, they'll need to be able to respond, quickly.

Research shows simulator training can improve patient outcomes.

Most medical training programs now use simulators. They give future doctors and nurses hands-on training on how to handle a pediatric emergency: what to do if a patient's heart stops beating.

They can even learn how to deliver a baby on a simulator.

A study published last year found training with simulators can make a difference in patient outcomes.

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