Wiitis Is Not Just a Funny Name

Once in a while discussions about injuries resultant from playing Nintendos games are published. Ailments have humorously been labeled “Nintendinitis” and recently more specifically as “Wiiitis,” referring to Nintendos Wii video-game system. The Wii games console includes a wireless remote that detects movement in three dimensions for players participating in sports such as tennis, golf, boxing, baseball, and bowling. Wiitis may become a more prevalent problem because adults are more likely to use the Wii than Nintendo.

The current issue of The New England Journal of Medicine (Karen A. Eley, M.R.C.S.(Ed)) reports that a 14-year old in Oxford, England was diagnosed as having sustained a small fracture of the base of the fifth metatarsal after falling off of a Wii Fit balance board. The Wii Fit uses a pressure-sensitive board about 2 in. off the ground in the place of handheld controls. It is believed that the foot fracture probably resulted from the pull of the peroneus brevis muscle during inversion of the ankle. A common condition resulting from overuse of a handheld control is pain over the extensor tendon of the players thumb.

Levine & Slavit has experience handling numerous cases involving fractures of the base of the fifth metatarsal (the bone on the outside of the foot). The impact of these fractures on a persons daily life is often underestimated. The injury is very painful and makes ambulation very difficult. Union of the fracture is often delayed, and sometimes does not occur at all. Bone stimulators are often employed to try to get the bone to heal. On occasion, surgery is required to insert hardware such as a pin. One of our clients even sustained nerve damage as a result of the fracture, and had to undergo 3 surgeries, including one to remove part of nerve to relieve him of pain that wouldn’t stop.

But the Wii can have health benefits, not only risks. For example, interactive gaming has been used to aid in the rehabilitation of patients after fracture. It can also help with balance. Other reported injuries from playing the Wii include traumatic hemothorax, dislocations, and head injuries (8-year-old girl accidentally hit by a Wii remote control swung by her brother).

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