Interactive Video Games More Likely to Cause Shoulder, Foot Injuries

Interactive video games may get couch potatoes up on their feet, but watch where you swing that Wii remote controller. Games in which teens and children mimic throwing, running and jumping movements as they play can cause a range of injuries that differ from those sustained while playing traditional video games, according to a new study.

Games such as the Nintendo Wii are significantly more likely to cause sprains and abrasions, and injuries to the shoulder, ankle and foot in children than are traditional video games. On the other hand, traditional games are more likely to lead to seizures, eye pain and neck injuries, the researchers say.

And children watching others compete in a virtual tennis match or hockey game might want to keep their distance. Researchers found injuries to bystanders were significantly more common during interactive video games than during traditional video games, particularly for younger children.

"Children under the age of 10 should be supervised while video games are being played to prevent bystander injuries," said study author Dr. Patrick O'Toole, of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

O'Toole and his colleagues collected information on video-game related injuries in children between 2004 and 2009 from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, a nationally representative sample of about 100 hospital emergency departments in the United States. The average age of those injured was 16.5.

But on the whole, traditional video games sent more kids to the hospital. Of the 696 injuries the researchers identified as related to video games, 604 were sustained while playing traditional video games, compared with 92 injuries sustained during interactive video games.

The findings were presented Oct. 4 at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

Rachel Rettner
Live Science Staff Writer
Rachael has been with Live Science since 2010. She has a masters degree in journalism from New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in molecular biology and a Master of Science in biology from the University of California, San Diego.