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Interactive Video Games Linked to Injuries

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Sports injuries are commonplace, but injuries from playing interactive video games such as Nintendo Wii are now on the rise, new research shows, with even children who are bystanders sometimes getting hurt.

However, one expert said the odds of being injured while playing an interactive video game, or of being injured while watching someone else play, are small and probably not a serious problem.

"It would not appear right now that interactive games put anybody at more risk than traditional gaming," said Dr. Judy Schaechter, associate chair of pediatrics and director of the Injury Free Coalition for Kids at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.

In fact, interactive games may be more beneficial than traditional video games, she added. "I am happy to get people up and moving. I prefer them to do an interactive game if it means that they are physically moving."

Schaechter noted that most of the bystander injuries were among young children. "Know where the children are," she said. "Remember it's only a game."

And Schaechter still believes it's better to go outside and play a truly interactive game with children that's "more healthful, better for relationships and doesn't lead to those kind of injuries."

The results of the study were to be presented Monday at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco.

For the study, a team led by Dr. Patrick O'Toole, from the division of orthopedics at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, used the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System to collect data on all video game-related injuries from January 2004 to January 2009.

During that time, the researchers identified 696 video game-related injuries. Among these, only 92 injuries were tied to interactive video games, including 49 among males and 43 in females.

Compared with traditional video games, those playing interactive video games were more likely to injure their shoulder, ankle or foot. In addition, they were also more likely to have cuts or bruises, strains or sprains, O'Toole's group found.

However, the 65 reported seizures, the eight reported cases of eye pain or visual disturbance, and 23 of the 24 cases of neck injuries were all among those playing traditional video games, the researchers found.

Injuries to bystanders occurred in both traditional and interactive video games, but happened significantly more often with interactive games. Most of these injuries were among children under 10, the study authors found.

"This study details the different injuries sustained while participating in interactive and traditional video games," O'Toole said in a statement. "Younger children under the age of 10 should be supervised while video games are being played to prevent bystander injuries, which are more common with interactive games."

More information

For more information on sports injuries, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Judy Schaechter, M.D., associate chair, pediatrics, associate professor, pediatrics/adolescent medicine, and director, Injury Free Coalition for Kids, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Oct. 4, 2010, presentation, American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition, San Francisco

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