Video Game Strains

If you've ever gotten a wrist cramp from too much typing, you know that lengthy periods at the computer can cause hand problems. If your kids play video games, they may risk similar injuries. In fact, the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) warns that frequent gaming may cause lasting harm to children's hands and upper arms if they don't take the proper precautions.

"The repetitive motions associated with playing video games can lead to future ailments," especially given "excessive play time," says ASHT President William Walsh. Extreme gaming may cause "Nintendo Thumb," a swelling at the base of the thumb. If the stress continues, Walsh adds, children may develop more long-term conditions, including tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

To prevent hand injuries, ASHT offers the following advice to video gamers (and computer users) of all ages:

  • Use a neutral grip when holding a game controller or mouse. In a neutral grip, one's wrist is straight, rather than bent in a particular direction.
  • The keyboard should be high enough so that, when one is typing, one's wrists are parallel to the keys.
  • Take a break each hour, or at least shift position. Keeping one's hands in the same position for an extended period while typing or pressing game buttons can lead to tendonitis of the elbow or carpal tunnel syndrome.

© Parenthood.com, used with permission.

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