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Rae Bontekoe, OT, Certified Hand Therapist

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Video Game Craze can lead to Hand and Wrist Injuries in Children

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Video Game Craze can lead to Hand and Wrist Injuries in Children - by Rae Bontekoe, OT, Certified Hand Therapist

Video games encompass 80% of entertainment in American homes and children spend hours in front of the television and computer monitors playing video games. Rae Bontekoe, OTR/L, Certified Hand Therapist, states that engaging in these gaming activities can lead to over use injuries of the hand and upper extremities.

“It is important for children to take the proper precautions when playing video games as it is for them to warm-up and safeguard against injury before a basketball game,” comments Rae.hand

Video games are very popular and hand therapists are working to keep young hands healthy as they enjoy this activity. Playing video games involves holding the controller with an intense grip, punching small buttons repetitively, and sharp/quick wrist movements.

When our children play excessively it may lead to musculoskeletal disorder or repetitive stress injuries such as “Nintendo Thumb,” an injury that causes swelling at the base of the thumb. Continued stress on tendons, nerves, and ligaments in children’s hands and arms could lead to long term ailments such as lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), tendonitis, bursitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome.

The American Society of Hand Therapists recommends hand and wrist exercises to reduce the risk of future injuries. Handouts of these simple stretches may be obtained at our Cheboygan and Indian River Clinics.   Rae also offers free 15 minute screenings for anyone who may have concerns with their wrist, hand, elbow, or shoulder pain or symptoms.

Tips and healthily guidelines for video gamers of all ages:

  1. Use a neutral grip when holding the controller.      
  2. Keep wrist straight and do not hunch toward the screen (good posture).
  3. Holding the controller close to your lap will mean less work against gravity and less stress to your muscles.
  4. Take breaks – frequent breaks allow muscles to rest & recover. Kids often fall into “video game trance” not realizing how many hours they spend playing.
  5. When using a single control device, switch hands frequently to reduce hand fatigue.
  6. Hold joystick or game controller lightly and try to hit keys with lighter pressure. As the game gets more exciting, the tendency is to grip the controller too hard, causing wrist and hand discomfort.
  7. Look away from the monitor frequently to reduce eye fatigue.

“We stress the importance of developing good, healthy video game habits early on in children to prevent hand and wrist injuries in adulthood,” comments Rae. This can also carry over into other aspects of life where there is similar injury risk such as computer and musical instrument use.

For more information about prevention and professional Hand Therapy, please visit or call our clinics in Cheboygan and Indian River.

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Petoskey, Petoskey East & Boyne City

Our Petoskey clinic is located within the Bay Street Orthopedic building, 4048 Cedar Bluff Drive. 231-347-9300 [map]

Our Petoskey East clinic is located on the corner of Mitchell & Division, 345 N. Division 231-348-7950.[map]

Our Boyne City Clinic is located in the SOBO district, 210 S Lake Street 231-459-4750 map

Charlevoix & Cheboygan

Our Charlevoix clinic is located in the Kmart Plaza, at 06510 M-66, 231-547-0380 [map] 

Our Cheboygan clinic is located south of town, 9445 N Straits Hwy, 231-627-7201 [map]

Harbor Springs & Indian River

Our Harbor Springs clinic is located next the Harbor Springs airport, 8452 M-119 Harbor Plaza, 231-348-7002. [map]                                        

Our Indian River clinic is right in the heart of downtown, 3805 South Straits Hwy, 231-238-4880. [map]