Nintendo is selling the Wii game system like hot cakes. The company, which introduced the Wii in November 2006, sold more than 10 million of the game systems in the United States last year. It’s been largely touted for getting people active while playing video games. But with that activity comes a hefty medical price.
There’s an interesting New York Times article on the widespread injuries inflicted upon Wii enthusiasts. The author even reports a pop in his left shoulder after playing Wii tennis.
If you’re not familiar with the Wii phenomenon, gamers use a handheld, wireless remote where you mimic the motion of the activity in the video game. This could include tennis, boxing, bowling, among others.
“It’s great in the concept that it gets people active and involved,” said Dr. Brian Halpern, a sports medicine physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan. “It’s not great in that you get lost in that and are overloading areas that you haven’t worked out in a long time, if ever.”
Dr. Halpern says he’s treated two types of injuries: traumatic injuries like twisted knees and sprained ankles from playing Wii in confined spaces, and repetitive stress from lengthy play.
If you’re interested in purchasing a Wii Fit system, or currently own one and have been fortunate enough not to fall victim to an injury, here’s some handy advice: you don’t need to exactly mimic the real-life motion. You don’t need to make a full swing when a flick of the wrist is usually enough.