Playing too much Wii can lead to injuries

It's happening around TV sets in more than 10 million households across the US.

An interactive video game is connecting grandparents with their grandchildren and providing a great workout.

But is there such a thing as too much Wii?

Doctors say “yes.”

For the young, or just young at heart, Wii is the workout happening in living rooms across the country.

Noel Blair got hooked on bowling.

"Almost daily, I was doing it, game after game after game, and then you lose track of how many games you played," says noel Blair.

She pulled the muscle that sits over her sciatic nerve.

"I went to get out of bed, and I had the worst pain," says Noel.

It's not your typical sports strain.

Orthopedic specialists call it Wii-itis.

"Sort of sparked a whole other type of injury that we've actually never even seen before," says Dr. John Sperling, orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.

It's an injury that made its way into the New England Journal of Medicine. Doctors in Britain say up to 10 people are hospitalized each week with Wii-itis.

"For most people, they would play maybe an hour of tennis and stop after that, but with the Wii, there's an unlimited amount of time you can play, and there's really not the same feedback of getting tired playing a sport," says Dr. Sperling.

In normal sports, the force of impact slows the arm. With Wii, no ball means no force, and swinging through air causes strain.

"In this, there's nothing really to resist that force," says Dr. Sperling.

Doctors say don't blame the game. Just don't overdo it.

A simple flick of the wrist is enough to bowl a strike or return a serve.

Thirty minutes should get in a good workout without causing pain. Make sure to warm up and take breaks, even if you don't think you're tired.

After physical therapy, Noel is back in the game. Only now, she hits her strikes sitting down.

There are health and safety warnings that pop up during many of the Wii games.

Doctors say the most common injuries are to the elbows, knees, back and forearms.

"Wii-itis" is the condition of having pain and sore muscles from playing simulated sports with video games. Wii-itis is not the first condition caused by rapid video gaming. In 1990, a Wisconsin doctor characterized a soreness of the thumb from a 35-year-old woman who played a Nintendo game nonstop for five hours. Nintendo received attention in the medical field and coined the condition "Nintendinitis." In 2008, up to 10 people a week were being hospitalized with injuries caused by playing Wii in Great Britain, thus coining this new era of "itis" with Wii-itis. Wii-itis is caused by extended play on the Nintendo Wii video game system. It could lead to rheumatism or arthritis. Patients often experience inflammation of the shoulder or the wrist. Doctors say don't blame the game. People who don't typically exercise for extended periods of time should only use the Wii for about a half-hour to get a good workout. They also suggest stretching before using the game and taking breaks in between sessions even if you don't feel tired. There are several warnings that pop up on the screen before and during the games to warn players about overexertion. Experts say, in some cases, Wii-itis is caused by a lack of resistance when playing the game. "When you have a bowling ball or racket in your hand, you're holding an object, and I think the problem with the Wii for some people is this deceleration force. So, people are swinging sometimes rather aggressively with the console. Whereas you would normally hit a tennis ball with the racket, in this, there's nothing really to resist the force, and I think it's some of those deceleration forces that really cause the muscle strain that causes the discomfort that we see with what we term as Wii-itis," John Sperling, M.D., an orthopedic surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., told Ivanhoe. "I think there are a tremendous number of benefits to being involved in this and playing Wii. It gets people up and active, but in terms of the usage of this, I think moderation is the key in that regard. If it starts to hurt, backing away is the important thing, but I think the concept, in general, is a really great idea," Dr. Sperling said. * For More Information, Contact: Dana Sparks Mayo Clinic Rochester, MN

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