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Gamer Fractures Spine Following Regular Use Of VR Headset

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Gamer Fractures Spine Following Regular Use Of VR Headset

A German gamer fractured his spine following regular use of his virtual reality headset.

Rather than the horrifying injury resulting from the gamer falling over while using the headset, instead it occurred following his ‘repetitive’ and ‘intense’ movements from playing up to four hours a day. 

Medics revealed that the repeated strenuous movements wore down one of the vertebrae in his neck, eventually forcing it to crack. 

The case, which has now been detailed in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, is thought to be one of the first ever instances of stress fracture caused by virtual gaming, and probably won’t be the last. 

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According to the report, the unidentified man went to hospital after experiencing a sharp pain between his shoulders while playing the game that required him to move his body to ‘rhythmic visual and musical triggers’. 

Stock image. Credit: Alamy
Stock image. Credit: Alamy

The man assured doctors he had not fallen or collided with anything, which prompted a round of tests that eventually revealed a fractured neck vertebra, situated near the base of the neck. 

Fortunately the healing process was pretty straightforward, as the man was required to wear a neck brace for six weeks, and he was active and able to return to sports after 12 weeks. 

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Medic Dr Baur noted: “Since the patient had been playing VR games for many hours weekly with lightweight devices in his hands and on his head, we conclude that a stress-type fracture seems to be the more likely reason for the dislocated fracture of the spinous process from the seventh cervical vertebra. 

Stock image. Credit: Alamy
Stock image. Credit: Alamy

“The repetitive movements and intense gaming habits could have led to a fatigue fracture.” 

The injury has been likened to ones seen in runners, volleyball players and horse riders. 

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The authors also suggested this type of injury is common among soldiers on long marches. 

Dr Baur said, to his knowledge, this was the first documented injury of its kind related to virtual reality gaming; he added that more cases needed to be documented before researches could determine the potential risk of these type of injuries.   

The UK Government's Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy does warn of some of the dangers associated with virtual reality headsets. 

In its review of the devices, the department says users of the headsets are most likely to injure themselves due to falling over or colliding with real world objects they are unaware of whilst immersed in the game. 

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Gaming, Virtual Reality, News

Abbi Murray
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