Esports medicine is a relatively novel field of research. In this systematic review, researchers evaluated the association between video gaming and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). A total of 16 studies were included in the analysis, with a total of 62,987 participants from 10 different countries. The majority of the studies were cross-sectional and involved school-aged children and young adults aged 5 to 20 years. The main body regions of reported musculoskeletal pain were the neck, back, shoulders, and hands. Most of the esports medicine and performance studies used self-designed non-standardized questionnaires to evaluate MSDs, and the risk of bias was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale.
The results of the studies indicated that there was a statistical negative impact of video gaming on the musculoskeletal system in 11 studies. Four studies found no impact or effect of video gaming on MSDs, and one study found a positive effect of video gaming on neck pain. Overall, the review suggests that there may be a potential association between video gaming and MSDs, particularly in the neck, back, and shoulders. However, the results may not be generalizable to other age groups or to individuals who engage in video gaming as a profession (esports athletes).
Protective factors against MSDs in video gamers may include physical activity and exercise, as well as considering other factors such as sleeping habits, psychosocial balance, socioeconomic status, and environmental and ergonomic factors. Future esports medicine research should consider a wider range of age groups and types of video gamers, and should also consider factors such as the type of video game being played and the specific gaming device being used.
Coaches and support staff should consider the following unique considerations based on the findings of this study:
Tholl, C., Bickmann, P., Wechsler, K. et al. Musculoskeletal disorders in video gamers – a systematic review. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 23, 678 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12891-022-05614-0 https://bmcmusculoskeletdisord.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12891-022-05614-0
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