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Children experience wrist and finger pain when using gaming devices and mobile phones over time

For the first time, results on the impact of gaming devices on finger and wrist pain in children were presented today at the EULAR 2011 Annual Congress. Data comparing two schools in the USA demonstrate that young children experience high levels of pain following long term use of gaming devices and mobile phones indicating that excessive gaming may negatively impact on joint health.

The study, involving 257 students, highlights that a higher degree of pain was experienced with the use of gaming devices compared to mobile phones. Pain reported by children using Xbox and Gameboy was statistically higher than pain reported for the iPhone (p=0.036 and p=0.042 respectively). Importantly, the length of time spent on the devices heightened the pain suffered, as the data demonstrated that length of time was independently associated with the pain reported, with the odds of reporting pain increasing by two (95* CI [1.50, 2.89, p<0.001) for every one hour of play.

"Our study has shown the negative impact that playing computer games and using mobile phones can have on the joints of young children, raising concerns about the health impact of modern technology later in life," said Professor Yusuf Yazici, Rheumatology, NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, New York. "We hope that further research in this area will shed light on what could be a serious health concern for today's gaming children, in later life."

The study also investigated pain attributed to mobile phone usage for the sending of text messages, the number of texts sent, the use of abbreviations, and the type of keyboard used, according to age and gender. The results indicated that female students reported twice as much pain as male students (0.37 [1.0] and 0.15 [0.5] respectively, measured using the 10cm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS, a pain measurement scale) and gender was the only independent variable associated with pain.

The study involved 257, nine to 15 year old students from two schools in St Louis, USA. They were administered with a questionnaire to aid researchers in determining the possible association device type, age of children and hours played may have on wrist and finger pain. A multivariable generalised linear model examined whether reported pain was associated with game device usage adjusting for age, gender, school and duration of game play per game device.


Contact: Rory Berrie
European League Against Rheumatism

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