Take care when playing interactive video games to avoid injuries

Interactive video gamers should exercise some caution to avoid injury to themselves and bystanders, say researchers who have studied U.S. data on a broad range of injuries among traditional and interactive gamers.

TORONTO — Interactive video gamers should exercise some caution to avoid injury to themselves and bystanders, say researchers who have studied U.S. data on a broad range of injuries among traditional and interactive gamers.

“Interactive video games are becoming increasingly more popular with a wide variety currently available,” lead study author Dr. Patrick O’Toole wrote in an email to The Canadian Press. “These games are fun to play and differ significantly from traditional video games as the player must physically mimic movements in order to compete. Injuries sustained during these interactive games are likely to be similar to injuries sustained in real sports.”

Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia aimed to determine and define the types of injuries caused as a result of participation in both traditional and interactive video games. The findings were to be presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

Data on video game-related injuries from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System was reviewed between Jan. 1, 2004 and Jan. 1, 2009. Altogether, 696 gaming-related injuries were reported over the five years.

Of those injuries, 604 resulted from playing traditional video games. The remaining 92 injuries occurred during play with the more modern interactive games, the majority — 76 — from using the Nintendo Wii, researchers said. Specific interactive games were not mentioned as part of the data collected, O’Toole wrote.

Researchers found when compared with the traditional group of gamers, participants in the interactive group were significantly more likely to injure their shoulder, ankle and foot. The group of interactive gamers was also significantly more likely to sustain a contusion or abrasion, sprain or strain.

But there were reported problems among those playing traditional games that were notable too. All 65 seizures, all eight cases of eye pain or visual disturbance and all but one of the 24 reported neck injuries were sustained by those in the traditional group.

Researchers found there were significantly more bystander injuries in the interactive group, and that such injuries were more likely to involve those under the age of 10. O’Toole wrote that bystanders were injured in a similar way to how actual participants were injured.

Researchers encourage both participants and bystanders to exercise caution when involved with gaming.

“Video gaming is fun whether the participant is playing a traditional or indeed an interactive game,” O’Toole wrote. “Adequate space should be available when participating in interactive gaming and younger children under the age of 10 years should be supervised while video games are being played to prevent bystander injuries.”

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