More gamers suffering 'Wii-itis'

November 25, 2009 10:03:54 AM PST
"Wii-itis" is the condition of having pain and sore muscles from playing simulated sports with video games. Wii-itis is not the first condition caused by rapid video gaming. In 1990, a Wisconsin doctor characterized a soreness of the thumb from a 35-year-old woman who played a Nintendo game nonstop for five hours. Nintendo received attention in the medical field and coined the condition "Nintendinitis." In 2008, up to 10 people a week were being hospitalized with injuries caused by playing Wii in Great Britain, thus coining this new era of "itis" with Wii-itis.

Wii-itis is caused by extended play on the Nintendo Wii video game system. It could lead to rheumatism or arthritis. Patients often experience inflammation of the shoulder or the wrist.

Doctors say don't blame the game. People who don't typically exercise for extended periods of time should only use the Wii for about a half-hour to get a good workout. They also suggest stretching before using the game and taking breaks in between sessions even if you don't feel tired.

There are several warnings that pop up on the screen before and during the games to warn players about overexertion.

Experts say, in some cases, Wii-itis is caused by a lack of resistance when playing the game.

"When you have a bowling ball or racket in your hand, you're holding an object, and I think the problem with the Wii for some people is this deceleration force. So, people are swinging sometimes rather aggressively with the console. Whereas you would normally hit a tennis ball with the racket, in this, there's nothing really to resist the force, and I think it's some of those deceleration forces that really cause the muscle strain that causes the discomfort that we see with what we term as Wii-itis," John Sperling, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told Ivanhoe.

"I think there are a tremendous number of benefits to being involved in this and playing Wii. It gets people up and active, but in terms of the usage of this, I think moderation is the key in that regard. If it starts to hurt, backing away is the important thing, but I think the concept, in general, is a really great idea," Dr. Sperling said.

For More Information, Contact:

Dana Sparks
Mayo Clinic
Rochester, MN
Sparks.dana@mayo.edu
www.mayoclinic.com


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