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Wii Popularity Leads to New Kind of Gaming Injury
Date:2/3/2010

Instead of hand pain, some injure their feet on Wii boards, report notes

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Following the introduction of Wii to video gaming in 2006, more than just the ligaments and tendons in the hands of players are getting injured these days: a new report details foot injuries that have been incurred while playing with the Wii.

"Before these types of games were introduced, patients typically presented with ligament injuries of the hand from intensive use of [video game] hand-held controls," noted Karen A. Eley. A plastic surgery resident and doctoral candidate at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust in Great Britain, she outlined the specific nature of what is now known as "Wiiitis" in a letter in the Feb. 4 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Now, the injuries seem to affect any region of the body," Eley added.

In her commentary, Eley said that the so-called "Nintendinitis" of the 1990s -- involving thumb tendon pain -- has given way to an increasing number of foot-related injuries in conjunction with the rise of the popularity of the Wii.

Such injuries can result, for example, when otherwise healthy players fall off special pressure-sensitive "balance boards" that are raised two inches off the ground and are designed to read the body movements of gamers without the need for hand controls.

This type of fall has been seen to result in soft-tissue swelling, dislocations, muscle pulls and even small fractures -- as highlighted by Eley in recounting the case of a 14-year-old girl who sought emergency medical care for such injuries at a British hospital.

Head injuries are another aspect of Wiiitis, Eley pointed out, resulting from the grouping of gamers in confined spaces, prompting unintentional bumping and striking.

Her observations notwithstanding, Eley said that Wiiitis injuries are not yet a frequent hazard of gaming.

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