Is yours one of the millions of families that had a game station under the Christmas tree this year? Interesting gaming statistics show that the average gamer plays over 18 hours/week; 65% of American households has at least one member who plays video games; 3 out of 5 gamers are male; and the Sony Playstation 2 has been the biggest selling console up to now, with over 138 million units sold.
Video games represent 80% of entertainment in American homes. With this much gaming going on, it’s inevitable that repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), or “overuse” injuries of the hand and upper extremities, have begun showing up in gaming individuals. In fact, names such as Playstation thumb, and Nitendoitis are showing up in the medical community.
The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) has issued a national education alert for parents and is offering injury prevention tips to help the millions of children and young adults playing video games avoid hand and upper extremity problems later in life.
“The repetitive movements associated with playing video games can lead to future ailments – given the excessive hours of play time. Video games are immensely popular and professional hand therapists are working to educate parents and children on how to avoid potential injury risks and keep young hands healthy,” said ASHT Past President William W. Walsh.
According to Walsh, video games involved intense grips, repetitive punching motions on small buttons and sharp wrist movements. Continued stress on tendons, nerves and ligaments in a child’s hand and arm could potentially lead to long-term ailments such as lateral epicondylitis, also known as tennis elbow, tendonitis, bursitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.
The ASHT offers these tips for safer gaming:
1. Use a neutral grip when holding the controller.
2. Take breaks or switch to another activity.
3. Make sure the monitor is at the correct height.
4. The keyboard should be at a height so that wrist/hands are straight.
5. When using a hand held device, a pillow should be placed the lap to rest arms on pillows.
6. Whenever possible sit in an appropriate chair with feet flat on the floor and the back supported.
7. When using a single control device (like a mouse), switch hands frequently.
8. Hold the game pad or joystick lightly.
9. Utilize any “programmable” features of the game pad to reduce repetitive action.
10. Frequently focus on a distant object to reduce eye strain.
As with other RSIs and hand conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, etc., it’s best to reduce strain on the hand, thumb and fingers whenever possible. This includes any time you are writing. Using my ergonomic pen is one of the best solutions. The UGLee Pen has been scientifically designed to reduce writing strain, and offers an extremely comfortable writing experience.
Photo Credit: boyvideogames.com