Video game-related health problems are more prevalent than we may realize. Unless your child or someone you know has ever been diagnosed, you’ve probably never given it any thought. They can cause repetitive strain injuries and believe it or not even skin disorders! Who would have ever thought that we would see the day when doctors would diagnose their patients with names like, PlayStation thumb, Nintendinitis, acute Wii-itis and X-Boxitis? I’m not joking, these really exist. But, let’s not exclude the adults too that are being diagnosed with things like tech neck and other neck and shoulder straining issues due to overuse of their cell phones, tablets and other handheld devices.
As the names would imply, these injuries are caused by overuse of each of these gaming consoles and the repetitive injuries related to each of them. Playstation thumb is usually described as numbness in the thumb caused by friction between the thumb and the controller from rapid game play. Acute Wii-itis is simply a term used to indicate an injury of the shoulder or knee after playing Wii. Doctors are seeing a high number of these types of injuries in adults as well as kids, but if you’ve ever played Wii, especially after getting a new game, I’m sure you can totally relate.
Did you know that there have been several instances of skin disorders in children that have occured as a result of overuse of playing video games using handheld controllers? Dermatologists have called the condition, Palmar hidradenitis. It’s the development of painful lesions on the palms of the hands. Physicians have said that the condition has been known to clear up after the patient stops paying altogether for about ten days. (This can be an eternity for a true gamer)
Other physical signs, mostly seen in children that have been linked to excessive video game playing, include extreme fatigue, eye strain, black rings under the eyes and muscular stiffness in the shoulders, possibly caused by a tense posture or sleep deprivation. (Hmmm…kinda sounds like being a mom to me, but I digress.) Dr. Jeff Manning, a leading expert on a new technology-related discomfort called ‘tech neck’, says that a rule of thumb for this disorder is: “Don’t type for more than 3 minutes straight. Get up and walk around to stretch your muscles. One simple exercise is to tilt your head to one side (ear to shoulder) then to the other side, back to neutral, turn to look all the way to the right, then left. Go back to neutral, then lean head back and back to neutral. Do all without raising shoulders. Don’t stretch forward…this only accentuates the poor posture you are trying to avoid. Do it slowly, without straining. Repeat.”
So, if your gamer starts having complaints in any of the above mentioned areas, it may be worth a second look to see if its possibly a video game related injury which can most likely resolve if the person takes a break from game play for an extended amount of time.
BMWK – do you have any gamers in your family that have experienced any of the aforementioned problems? How have you dealt with this?