Public Release: 

Vibrating computer games should carry health warnings

BMJ

Letter: Hand-arm vibration syndrome may be associated with prolonged use of vibrating computer games BMJ Volume 324, p 301

Prolonged use of vibrating computer games by children may be linked to a condition known as hand-arm vibration syndrome and should carry health warnings, suggest researchers in this week's BMJ.

They describe a case of a 15 year old boy who visited hospital with a two year history of painful hands. His hands became white and swollen when exposed to the cold and then red and painful on warming.

The boy spent up to seven hours a day playing computer games, and particularly enjoyed driving games using the vibration mode on the hand held control device.

His symptoms are typical of the hand-arm vibration syndrome caused by the prolonged use of industrial tools, such as gas powered chain saws and pneumatic tools, say the authors. This syndrome was recognised as an industrial disease in 1985 and has led to changes in working practices.

Injuries associated with the use of computers or their accessories include joystick digit and mouse elbow, but no cases of hand-arm vibration syndrome linked to prolonged use of vibrating hand held computer devices have previously been reported, they add.

"We believe that, with increasing numbers of children playing these devices, there should be consideration for statutory health warnings to advise users and parents. We encourage paediatricians encountering health related effects of using these devices to report their findings," they conclude.

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