You’d be surprised how hard it can be going from always playing on the couch to competing in a game of video dance off. ~J.A. Laraque
Gamers Health: Gaming Injuries
In our last Gamers Health article we talked about small changes gamers could make to be healthier. This time we talk about some of the injuries and health issues that can occur during or due to gaming. The first thing that came to mind is my friend and Obsolete Gamer writer, Ashley Brito who after years of gaming sometimes wears a brace on his wrist to protect it. Often changing how you game and taking breaks can prevent issues down the line, but sometimes you just have to deal with them after they occurred.
The US National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reported that from 2004 to 2009 696 people were injured due to video games. Consider that is the number reported and counted as legit video game related injuries. How many of us have had back or wrist issues or other aches and pains due to gaming? Since then interactive motion games such as the Wii and Kinect has comes out leading to even more injuries not only of gamers, but of bystanders as well.
Repetitive stress injury is one of the most common health issues gamer’s face. Remember playing Mario Bros or Street Fighter for hours till your hands hurt? How about those 24 hour camps in Everquest for loot and your wrist begins to ache? It does not happen to every one and obviously the older you get the higher the chances you can sustain injury, but often simple measures can be taken to protect your body during game play.
Just try comparing a long gaming session to working out and you will be laughed out of the building, but just like an athlete a gamer needs to warm up before going all out in a video game. Stretching the fingers and hands along with flexing the wrist can help loosen your joints. These exercises can also be used during breaks in gameplay to relieve stress.
The same can be applied to motion games. Just because it is a video game does not mean it is not physical activity. If you are playing the Olympic Games on the Kinect and it involves a wide range of motion it is best to stretch and prepare your body for that activity. This is especially true for those who are not normally active. You’d be surprised how hard it can be going from always playing on the couch to competing in a game of video dance off.
For those of us playing computer games posture is extremely important. I remember on a message board people asked for a picture of World of Warcraft player’s computer stations. I was surprised to see people using hard wooden chairs or stools for their desk chairs. When working in an office you might see employers use ergonomic chairs. This is to try and protect the back and neck of employees who are sitting at their desks for long periods of time working. If you are a computer gamer or user of any kind the right back and neck support is vital to prevent pain and other chronic issues that can arise.
Believed it or not video games can strain the eyes. This can occur more frequently if the player is normally in a dark or dimly lit room with a bright computer or television screen. While you do not see it much now people use to buy visors for their computer screen to reduce glare and many swore it helped with eye strain. Today with so much going on in gaming one must pay even more attention to the screen and reading small text messages in games does not help either. However, taking steps like turning down the brightness, adding light to your room and turning away from your monitor to give your eyes a break are all ways to lessen eye strain.
In the past gamers used to talk about Atari Thumb or Nintendonitis. Classic gamers know all too well about getting blisters on their thumbs from playing games specially button heavy ones such as Track and Field. Years later the same injuries occur, but with knowledge we can treat and prevent many injuries and issues. Next time we will talk about the extreme health related issues and risks associated with gaming. Until then, tell us about your video game war wounds.