Thursday, April 26, 2007

PC & Video Gaming

Tips for avoiding injury while playing computer games ...

"Away from the formal constraints of the work environment, we may find ourselves relaxing at home in front of the computer or television or on the couch in positions that are not necessarily healthy for our bodies. Does anyone run through the checklist of proper ergonomic positioning and practices prior to beginning a leisure activity? It just doesn’t seem right that activities we enjoy should increase our risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) or a tendonitis. But, as many gaming enthusiasts have discovered, repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) do not occur only during work hours.

The gaming industry is currently in a period of explosive growth. According to a Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2004 – 2008 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, the video game business was accurately projected to outsell both the movie and the music industries by 2006. A compound growth rate of 20% annually projects 55 billion USD in video game revenue by the end of 2008. It is estimated that 50% of the population plays video games

Gamers are at increased risk of developing RSIs. Games are most often enjoyed after work or school activity when muscles may already be fatigued or when tendons and nerves may already be stressed or inflamed. The gaming environment may be spontaneously chosen and is not likely to be set up for ergonomic comfort. Players may unwittingly end-up in awkward and unhealthy positions (for example, lying on the stomach with the neck craned up to see the television screen). The practice of playing is repetitive. Achieving game tasks and goals may promote nervous and muscular tension. The controllers may cause mechanical pressures with sustained holding and with additional features such as force feedback (for example, vibrating to enhance the game in relation to the activity on the playing screen). And pain signals may be ignored because the enjoyment of the game overshadows them.

...Here are some ergonomic tips for remaining pain-free while playing the game:

First and foremost, if you are having pain while playing, you need to rest from the activity. If painful, use cold packs for 10-15 minutes after play to control inflammation and spasms.

• Take 10-15 minute breaks for every hour of play.

• Stretch often.

• Perform 15-20 minutes of cardio activity daily to improve circulation and increase oxygen flow to the arms.

• Use pillows to support the arms when playing.

• Use the lightest touch possible when activating the controller.

• Try to keep the arms relaxed and the controller positioned close to your lap rather than having your arms fly up towards your chest."    (Continued via Bella Online)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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