The aim of this study was to investigate whether acquiring basic knee arthroscopic skills via a spaced retraining schedule could prevent skills deterioration and achieve further skills improvement.
In the learning phase, sixteen residents with no previous hands-on experience in practicing arthroscopic skills were asked to perform basic arthroscopic tasks on a simulator until they attained perfect scores in each task. Immediately after completing the learning phase, a pretest was performed to assess their performance. Next, they were randomly assigned into two groups. The spaced retraining group, which undertook a spaced repetitive training phase with a fixed-time interval, returned on Day 2, 4 and 6 to repeat the same tasks for 20 minutes per day, while the control group did nothing. On Day 7, all participants performed a posttest. A 2 × 2 mixed ANOVA model was used for statistical analysis.
Significant differences between the 2 groups were found in task completion time ( P=0.003) and camera path length ( P=0.043) but not cartilage injury ( P=0.186). Residents in the spaced retraining group decreased their task completion time (163.2 ± 23.9 s) whereas the task time in the control group increased (351.3 ± 25.5 s). The same pattern was found with the camera path length.
Implementing a spaced retraining schedule in 1 week resulted in a reduced task completion time and camera path length, but no significant reduction in cartilage injury. It appears that introducing a spaced retraining schedule in order to retain arthroscopic skills acquired through massed learning may be advantageous.