Entertainment

6 Real-Life Video Game Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Joe Keeley Updated 14-04-2020

Video games offer a wonderful escape from the real world, and are a great way to have fun and relax. There’s no doubting the benefits of playing video games. However, video game injuries, if suffered, take the enjoyment out of gaming.

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While your characters will often die or be badly injured, it’s also possible for gamers themselves to suffer an injury while gaming. Some are more severe than others and common video game injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome and neck pain.

In this article, we list a number of video game injuries and explain how to avoid them.

1. Computer Vision Syndrome

Man looking at screen
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Computer vision syndrome isn’t specific to video games, but rather any extended periods of time spent looking at a screen close-up. However, since many games have that addicting “just one more turn” feeling, it’s likely that you will experience this: around 90 percent of people who spend more than three hours at a screen will.

It’s a condition caused by looking at a screen for so long without letting your eyes relax. Focusing on something nearby for so long puts tension on your eyes. You might notice dry or irritated eyes, blurred vision, headaches, and more as a result.

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The best solution is to not play games for hours on end. You should also consciously blink if you feel your eyes getting tired and employ the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet (6.1 meters) away for 20 seconds. This allows the eyes to relax.

2. Neck and Back Pain

Physical therapy
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Sitting is a major killer 4 Serious Health Issues From Sitting Too Long (And How to Avoid Them) Sitting too long at your desk or on your couch is a modern epidemic. Here are four deadly risks to a sedentary lifestyle. Read More and you won’t help the situation by slouching in your chair or couch. Sitting increases the pressure on your lower back at the best of times—if your posture is poor, that pressure is greater.

This increased pressure will wear down the bones and joints. You’ll feel the pain all over your body, but primarily in the back and neck.

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Ideally, you should do some exercise every day to keep your body fit. If this isn’t possible, at the very least take a break every half hour or so to get up and walk around. It will stop your body seizing up.

While gaming, ensure your posture is correct. Sit up straight, keep the TV or monitor at eye level, arms at 90 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor. You should also invest in a supportive chair if you can afford one.

3. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Holding games controller
Image Credit: Deeana Creates/Pexels

Carpal tunnel syndrome is when the bones and ligaments in the wrist have narrowed. This then causes the median nerve, which runs through the tunnel from your upper arm to the palm of your hand, to be pinched.

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This is an issue because that tunnel is very slim. Any strain is going to be felt in your hand and cause a tingling sensation. This will then progress to numbness and pain.

One way that carpal tunnel syndrome occurs is due to repeatedly bending the wrist, like when typing or clicking the mouse, or from holding a controller for a long time.

You can wear a wrist splint at night to help keep the wrist straight. Also, you can try wrist exercises, though there’s limited evidence to their usefulness. Ideally, buy ergonomic equipment such as vertical mice The 7 Best Ergonomic Vertical Mice If you experience wrist pain, a vertical mouse might be for you. Here are the best vertical mice to get you started. Read More to reduce the wrist strain.

4. Seizure

LED lights
Image Credit: Tayla Jeffs/Unsplash

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You might have noticed that many video games come with an epilepsy warning. This is because video games were medically recorded as causing seizures in the early 1980s, after which console manufacturers were required to include epilepsy warnings with their systems.

You are only at risk of a seizure if you suffer from photosensitivity. In video games, the seizure can be brought on by aspects like lights flashing repeatedly or stripes of contrasting colors. Some games do have a setting to turn off specific elements that might cause a seizure, so do check for this.

The chance of suffering a seizure is small, but it’s still a risk. You should know if this applies to you. Speak to a doctor if so. Advice they might give you, short of not playing video games at all, is to sit further back from the screen, adjust the screen’s brightness, and be surrounded by natural light.

5. Full-Contact Injuries

Playing VR
Image Credit: David Dvorácek/Unsplash

Gaming used to be a sedentary hobby, but the advent of the Wii took many people off their couch… and swinging their bodies around wildly. News reports at the time talked of gamers who had fallen over or whacked someone in the face with a controller.

It wasn’t just people that were being damaged, but TV screens too! In fact, Nintendo had to issue advice on how to use the Wii controllers safely and started packing them in protective silicone to try to limit damage.

While the Wii is an old console now, similar physical injuries are still a risk. With virtual reality growing, it’s still possible to have a full-contact injury while gaming. Before playing, ensure that you have enough space around you and that you hold on to the controllers properly.

If you’re about to play an intense game, you might even want to stretch and warm up.

6. Obesity

Fast food
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Being obese means that you’re severely overweight. While it isn’t an injury in itself, it is a condition that will lead to problems.

Children are spending less time outdoors and more time inside playing games. Leading a sedentary lifestyle is more likely to cause obesity due to the lack of physical exercise. There’s also some evidence to show that obsessive gamers eat more while gaming, even if they’re not hungry.

The easiest way to combat this is to get outside and work out. Go for a run, play a sport, or hit the gym. To ease into this, you could try some physical fitness video games, like those that get you dancing or exercising.

Work Out and Stay Active

While there’s no doubting the joys of gaming, it isn’t a hobby you should do all of the time. Many of these injuries can be avoided simply by spending less time playing games and more time being physically fit.

To help keep yourself fit and healthy, use the best workout apps to get in shape The 10 Best Workout Apps to Get in Shape We've rounded up the best workout apps for Android and iPhone. Get fit anywhere with plans, tips, training, and more. Read More .

Related topics: Ergonomics, Health, Repetitive Strain Injury.

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  1. Jason
    June 30, 2016 at 10:06 am

    love the memes

  2. Shaun
    June 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Thanks for the tips. Im a gamer so it helps

  3. Steve
    June 15, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Superb article! I'm an Occupational Health RN and often do post-hire physicals. As part of hand wrist assessment I'll do a test for de Quairvain's tendosynovitis. You tuck your thumb into the middle of your hand and lightly make a fist holding the thumb in place. This stretches and stresses the extensor tendon that the thumb uses. If within 60 seconds it produces pain/numbness or tingling then that's a + de Quairvain's sign. I've run into positive tests three times in my life and each time I'd say: So you're a gamer, what do you play. Every time the cause is obviously gaming. As you say, the most important part is to take a break. Also it seems that the game companies such as Blizzard are clearly making an effort to reduce such injuries though I'm not sure if it's to protect users or simply to make the game more fun (such as auto-close-find target and not having to press for each "shot" (turning the shooting into machine shooting. Ryan, why not write a similar article on our painfully designed Qwerty keyboard versus the Dvorak (exponentially more ergonomically correct keyboard (by the way the one that I use).

  4. Sam
    February 20, 2016 at 2:59 am

    I found these posture braces at StabilityAce.com. You might want to try one of those out for use during playing to help maintain some posture.

  5. dragonmouth
    September 19, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    After 30+ years working on terminal/PC, I have chronic CTS. Sometimes the tingling gets so bad that I cannot hold a fork/spoon. At other times, I cannot sleep because of the intense burning sensation in my wrist.

  6. Shafat
    September 19, 2013 at 10:16 am

    Thanks for these tips. Hope to follow them.