Video Games and Repetitive Strain Injury

Kids who play video games, such as the PlayStation 3 or XBox 360, need more than just hand-eye coordination and gaming skills. They also need to watch out for "Video Gamer's Thumb," according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). The repetitive motion of video games can cause swelling at the base of the thumb, and can have long-term effects on kids' hands and upper arms with symptoms that range from weakness and fatigue to pain, burning and tingling.

To keep themselves in the game, kids should:

• Keep their wrists straight, rather than letting them bend downward, when holding the game controller.

• Sit in a chair that provides good back support, and maintain good posture with both feet comfortably on the floor.

• Get up, stretch and move every 20 minutes to rest the head, neck and shoulder muscles.

• Take an extended break if they feel headache, fatigue, pain or cramping.

For a downloadable sheet of simple exercises that will keep the hands, wrists and arms stretched and limber, visit the APTA online at www.apta.org/consumer.

Of course, parents will also want to limit the time their kids spend playing video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to recommend that kids spend no more than two hours per day in total screen time (TV viewing, computer use and video game playing).

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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