Gaming injuries ‘same as basketball players’, says doctor

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Injuries as a result of intensive eGaming are rising at an alarming rate, leading doctors have warned.

Despite the often-ridiculed stereotype of gamers sitting for hours on end operating nothing more strenuous that a QWERTY keyboard, injuries akin to those being suffered by top athletes are often reported.

It is believed the bizarre increase may be in connection with the growing number of eSports teams being formed by colleges and universities.

The remarkable escalation in hospital admissions from gaming-related ailments at school has even prompted one top physician to demand gamers are treated the same as college athletes.

Another – accident and emergency senior doctor Rohit Agarwal – claims the range and severity of injuries from gaming could easily be mistaken for those expected with contact sports.

“The strain being placed on wrists, lower arms and almost every muscle and bone in the neck and back from playing for hours in a bad posture position is not unlike the physical strain the body would suffer during a high-impact sport,” he told the eGaming Desk.

Terrible pain

“Only a few months ago we received a patient by ambulance in the early hours who was in terrible, terrible pain and was screaming at the top of his lungs as the team attempted to move him onto a bed.

“My immediate assumption was that he had been in some form of road traffic accident but, no, he was in fact suffering immense trauma in his spine from sitting badly while playing computer games for 10 straight hours.”

Players too are taking the warnings seriously.

Varsity eSports competitors Ryan Harran and Daniel Singh recently discussed their various medical complaints with CBS News.

“Some days I don’t play at all because of school and work, but when I do play, it could be anywhere from three hours to six hours,” Harran told CBS News.

“It is pretty mentally draining,” added Singh.

“There’s definitely eye strain from just looking so hard.”

Hand, wrist, neck and back pain injuries were the most common problems found through recent research by the British Journal of Medicine which examined almost 70 college eSport players who averaged anything between five and 10 hours of training each day.

Exponential forces

“Poor posture can produce exponential forces on your neck, back and shoulder,” reported the NYIT Center for Sports Medicine’s Dr Hallie Zwibel – author of the report.

“Eye fatigue is the most commonly reported complaint from these pixelated images that you see when you are playing on a computer.

“They’re making 500 action moves per minute. So there’s a lot of high-speed thinking, and I think that fatigues the eyes even further.”

Although technically not an injury, doctors are also warning of a rise in complaints of insomnia.

This, highlights Dr Zwibel, is down to the issue of blue light from computer screens suppressing the release of sleep hormone melatonin.

Around 100 universities and colleges in the US boast eSport teams and this, says Dr Agarwal, is reason enough for educational establishments to offer better information and treatment plans for injuries in the same way they would for more traditional athletes.

“This approach will seem extremely strange for people who perhaps don’t view eSports in the same frame as they would football or basketball, but the principal is the same – because some of the injuries are identical to those we treat in football and basketball,” he explained.

“Warming up before competing in eSports, for instance, should be taken as seriously as field sports.

“Stretches for the back, neck, arms, hands and fingers should be part of a routine – as should eye exercises.”

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