- Type of article: research review and summary
- Article name: Finger and Wrist Pain in Children Using Game Consoles and Laptops: Younger Children and Longer Time Are Associated with Increased Pain
- Basic anatomy of the shoulder: finger and wrist flexors allow us to grab and hold things
- Mechanism for injury: tissue overload of the finger and wrist flexors due to repetitive stress created from fingers and wrists being constantly flexed while holding/using technology
- Why is this significant? Because of how young all these participants are (9-14 years old) and how prevalent the use of these basic technologies is in activities of daily living. If they're hurting now, what happens with another 50+ years of usage?
This study introduces the first study of its kind examining the impact of handheld technology, including gaming controllers, phones, and laptops, on the development of wrist and finger pain in children. It has been found previously in smaller studies that excessive smart phone use has led to tendon rupture due to usage and tendinopathy in video game players. This study aimed to determine if there is a potential link between duration of usage of these devises and wrist pain.
Participants and Methods
Students attending two schools in St. Louis, Missouri participated in this study. Basic demographic information and device use exposure, as well as pain assessments on a 0 to 10 numerical rating scale were collected. Two separate questionnaires were utiized; the first explored view game system exposure; the second captured laptop computer usage. Summary statistics of demographic variables, electronic device usage, and pain levels were estimated. Beta regression models were estimated associating pain with demographic and exposure variables.
In study 1 (171 children), which examined video game play, any combination of console usage, age, and hours of play were associated with increased odds of pain presentation as opposed to not playing any device. Gender was not a determining factor.
For study 2 (307 children), examined laptop usage, results show that usage of five or more hours demonstrated a significant correlation with increased odds of wrist pain, particularly in comparison to those that used this resource less. Other time frames of usage were found to be not statistically significant. Again, there was no difference in genders.
Over two-thirds of the participants used at least one device, and over half used more multiple devices for more than one to two hours per day. Longer use was predictably associated with increased pain. The findings of this study suggest that there can be a musculoskeletal impact in children with more access to these devices.
The results of this study are reasonably predictable, but what stands out as particularly informative is the fact that children are developing pain responses due to overuse at such a young age. This study was a short-term study, but the implications for long-term ramifications could lead to a rise in wrist and finger related injuries. When considering the excessive usage of finger and wrist flexion, it might be worthwhile to start implementing students address this concern through multi-planar wrist and finger movement, with special focus given to creating extension.