Playing video games can be bad for your health, researchers claim

Two patients have had a stroke after playing on Nintendo Wii

Even the keenest gamers generally suffer nothing more than sore thumbs or tired eyes from their hobby. But scientists looking into the health effects of video game consoles have linked overplaying to dozens of injuries – some even life-threatening.

The cases were uncovered after a team of Dutch researchers gathered all reported cases of Nintendo-related injuries, spanning 30 years.

The findings, published in the Christmas issue of the British Medical Journal, include early reports of seizures, dubbed “Nintendo epilepsy”.

Two patients were rushed to hospital having had a stroke after playing on a Nintendo Wii console, while another needed surgery for a hernia after exercising on the Wii Fit game.

In another case, a 55-year-old woman was found to have suffered a massive chest bleed after falling on to her sofa while playing tennis on her Wii.

There were also two cases of Nintendo-related incontinence, where children were so engrossed in playing Super Mario Bros they ignored the need to go to the toilet.

A case of “Nintendo neck” was reported in 1991 after a child played his Game Boy for 30 minutes in a hunched position, while “Nintendo elbow” was diagnosed in a 12-year-old who played his console “a lot” for more than a month.

After searching two medical databases the researchers found 38 reports of injuries and problems ranging from neurological and psychological to surgical.

Nintendo-related problems in the thumb, hand and wrist are referred to as “nintendonitis”, and were associated with strenuous game play.

Tennis was found to be the most dangerous Wii sport overall, and the most common injuries were hand lacerations and bruising.

The researchers, led by Dr Maarten Jalink of the University of Groningen, said: “Overall, a Wii U is a relatively safe Christmas present.” But they added that players “should be careful about where they play, and they should take frequent breaks”.

A spokesman for Nintendo said: “The Wii is often credited with getting people up off the couch. But, as with any activity, people should pace themselves and not overdo it.”