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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Computer Games continued

First Post of 2008 - a New Epidemic in children: Playstation thumb!

First of all, a happy and prosperous New Year to everyone! We hope that 2008, an Olympic Year, brings everyone some Olympian success and prosperity!

I trust that all are recovered from their New Year celebrations, perhaps you've even jotted down some resolutions for 2008? Here's to making them last at least a week!

Just a short filler post today, to follow on what we have been discussing recently - health and computer games. A few days ago, we did some posts on the somewhat bizarre potential of Nintendo Wii to contribute to weight loss in children, since it is a more active form of computer game than Playstation and X-Box 360. A case of trying to gloss over a problem and justify inactivity perhaps? Or an admission that "If you can't beat them, join them"?

In any event, it reminded me of an article I came across a few years ago, while still a student. I used to share an office with three other PhD students who shared my sense of humour, and we all had a humorous appreciation for some of the more bizarre scientific research publications that our field sometimes produces (for example, check out this very bizarre case study from an Indian Medical Journal - accidental condom inhalation, anyone?).

Playstation thumb - a new epidemic in children

So here's one I came across in 2004 (don't remember how), detailing the emergence of a new "epidemic" - it's called Playstation Thumb. The condition was first mentioned in a letter written to a prestigious journal Lancet, and was followed by a synopsis in the South African Medical Journal. The condition develops due to (you guessed it) excessive use of the thumb during play - the problem is partly a dermatological one, with the formation of a blister, which can be accompanied by fatigue of the thumb. There is tendon pain (whether or not there is inflammation is debatable) which ultimately limits pain - a forced "rest" period...

In fact, there's a whole body of literature about this condition now. One of the more recent ones, in Archives of Dermatology, details "The Use of Dermoscopy to Visualize Punctate Hemorrhages and Onycholysis in "Playstation Thumb". (I don't know exactly what that means either...!)

Nintendo are not immune to this affliction. In June 2007 (last year, funnily enough!), the New England Journal of Medicine had a report detailing the condition "Wiitis". Here, a 29-year old medical student woke up with shoulder pain, had it checked out and was diagnosed with "acute tendonitis isolated to the right infraspinatus" as a result of playing too much Wii the day before! So forget Achilles tendonitis, tendinosis, ITB, patellofemoral pain and the like - computer gamers are just as injury-prone as all the runners and cyclists! Not to mention the risk of obesity, and the resultant disease - the games will one day carry a warning sticker!

But wait there's more - how about "Playstation Lip"?

If that wasn't enough, how about this letter, that was sent to the British Medical Journal in June 2000? It describes two dentist's experiences with children who apparently concentrate so hard that they damage their lower lips...

Sir, - It has come to our attention that an unusual consequence of children concentrating whilst playing their computer games of PlayStation games appears to be that of trauma to the lower lips.

We have recently seen two children who have attended Newcastle Dental Hospital children's department with severe trauma to their lower lips. On questioning it was clear that this trauma had occurred whilst playing on their PlayStations and consequently we found it necessary to provide them with lower soft splints to prevent any further damage.

Therefore, we would be very interested to know if any other readers had noticed this interesting phenomenon and had seen any other cases recently of what we have called 'PlayStation lip'.

R. L. M. Inglis
R. R. Welbury
It seems that we are on the verge of a new branch of science - computer games exercise science and medicine! First we had the possibility of studies on Wii Economy (see the comments section), now a division of medicine, even dentistry, on physical afflications caused by too much gaming! Who said that science stands still? And as for human evolution continuing to this day...

Preview of forthcoming posts

OK, so today was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek post to kick off the year. But tomorrow, I thought it would be interesting to do the "Nostradamus Post" and make some predictions for sport (and science) in 2008.

Hope you've hit 2008 running (or cycling, swimming, rowing, and figuratively!)



Anonymous said...

I do not know how much more of a cooincidence it could have been that a New York Times article was posted the same day as your Wii article, but it's fairly amusing to read the justifications for allowing games to substitute exercise:
"Exercise: Better Than the Couch, but Not Equal to the Court"