Careful When You Wii

Doctors report seeing an increase in Wii-related injuries.

ByABC News via logo
January 10, 2009, 9:25 AM

Jan. 10, 2009 — -- There was a time when playing a video game meant sitting still with your eyes transfixed on the television screen and the worst damage you could do was possibly a sore thumb, but that was before Nintendo's Wii.

The Wii, which continues to become more and more popular each year, involves getting up off the couch and exercising those muscles.

Elise Bacolas was so excited to get a Wii for Christmas she played the boxing game nonstop for hours. "I was playing eight games in a row and I was punching so hard that I threw my shoulder out," she says. For the next two weeks, she couldn't move her arm without flinching and went to an orthopedic surgeon.

"I went to Dr. Neil Roth and he told me that I had overextended my shoulder and that I had inflammation in that area," Bascolas explains. "I should stop all physical activity in the arm at this point and start physical therapy … that too is embarrassing."

Maybe embarrassing and a little strange, but her situation is actually increasingly common. Roth, who practices at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said "over the last couple months, I've seen anywhere from 10 to 12 new Wii injuries, most of them related to a little exuberant overuse."

Our society's virtual addiction has led to a certifiable affliction. First reported in the June 2007 New England Journal of Medicine in an article titled "Acute Wiiitis," common Wii-related injuries are said to stem from the repetitive motion of too much wii-ing.

Roth advises not to become a "Wii worrier" though. "Be smart about how you play and stretch," he said. If you do get hurt he recommends taking "some time to recover … and take some anti-inflammatories, ice it if it flares and seek your local orthopedist if the symptoms don't go away."

Nintendo tells "Good Morning America" that it "is committed to the safety of its consumers and always includes comprehensive health and safety guidelines with its products." And the Wii has positive uses, the company says, like helping people in therapy recovering from strokes.