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Preventing Injuries When Playing Video Games

By Stephen R. Farris

Video gaming has been around since the early 1970s with early single-game consoles invading the family living room. By the late '70s and early '80s, arcade rooms became popular for young people and adults, but the video gaming industry really exploded when more games were developed for the home console models. More and more young people and adults would soon find themselves drawn into the modified gaming systems, with their flashy graphics and multi-level games, spending hours on end playing them.

So now that you've been briefed a little on the history of the gaming industry, now comes the sad part of it. With more kids and adults spending time pushing buttons and staring at TV screens for hours and hours, going outdoors and enjoying activities became somewhat secondary. To prove my point, just sit outside on any given evening, close your eyes and listen. Other than the sound of passing cars, or those bumping, thumping sound systems, you'll hear an eerie silence. Unlike when most of us were growing up, and before those modified gaming systems took precedence, you could hear kids outside playing up until dark, or see them riding their bikes, or walking around with their friends. That's a sight you just don't see much anymore, if at all in certain locales.

It's no wonder with all of this physical inactivity that new types of injuries are beginning to pop up in gamers, such as arm and wrist problems, leg, ankle, and foot problems, knee problems and lower back problems, and in some cases, vision problems.

However, studies show that there are at least three things that can be done to keep a lot of these injuries in check.

Set Time Limits

Parents (including themselves) should set time limits for younger kids and teenagers that play video games for prolonged time periods. While it may be somewhat hard to enforce with teenagers, instilling this in younger kids could become a mindset as they progress into their teenage years, thus reducing their risk of developing injuries when it comes to gaming.

Comfort Is King

Simple ergonomics can play a factor in preventing gaming injuries, similar to people who have to sit and work at a desk all day. Use a chair that provides good support for the back, and with padded or cushioned arm rests, practice good posture, and keep screens at eye level.

Take Breaks

Encourage your kids (or yourself if you are a gamer) to take at least a 15-second break every 15 minutes. During the break eyes should be away from the screen, stand, walk around, stretch out your arms, legs, back, etc. 

The bottom line is that we wouldn't want our kids or ourselves to develop injuries that could end up being permanent later on in life. Stay safe and keep moving!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Melbourne, Fla.

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