Children who spend long periods of time at home playing computer games could be in danger of developing hand-arm vibration syndrome (also called vibration white finger, a condition associated with certain occupations). The hands become white and swollen when exposed to cold, and red and painful as they warm up.
Specialists at the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital followed the progress of a 15-year-old boy who had a two-year history of painful hands for which no explanation could be found.
However, it was finally revealed that he spent up to seven hours a day on his Sony Playstation. He particularly enjoyed playing the driving games and using the vibration mode on his handheld control device. The sensation provides an element of realism when the game’s vehicle goes ‘off-road’.
Although such excessive use is more than the manufacturer recommends, the study suggests that such products should contain statutory health warnings to advise both users and parents of the possible risks involved (BMJ, 2002; 324: 301).