In the June 7 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), Dr. Julio Bonis reported that he awoke one morning with a sore shoulder. He was initially puzzled since he hadn’t played sports recently — but then he remembered that he had played several long sessions of Wii tennis. Bonis, who is a resident with the Research Group in Biomedical Informatics in Barcelona, Spain, decided to send in a summary of the new condition to NEJM after a friend and fellow Wii owner complained of a similar injury.
In an e-mail to the news agency Reuters, Bonis said that he was not familiar with any other cases of Wii-itis, but suspects that the condition may be underdiagnosed. The treatment is just a matter of common sense: some pain relievers and a break from Wii sports.
In an e-mail interview, David Riley, a Senior Manager at the NPD Group (which tracks the video console market), questioned the need for a new medical condition.
“If it’s only one case,” Riley said, “I highly doubt it deserves its own diagnosis. And ‘Wii-itis’? Technically, Wii-itis in Latin means inflammation of the Wii, which doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense. In fact, it sounds like sensationalism to me.”
Riley pointed out that there has been a long list of medical conditions that have arisen out of video game use. “Some of the most common hand problems,” he said, “include arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, ganglion cysts and tenosynovitis.”
“When I was a child, I remember being glued to the television playing with my Atari 2600 and Intellivision,” Riley said, “and I have to tell you, the hand pain I suffered from too much gameplay was unbearable at times. But I also recall my shoulders aching from spending too much time in the swimming pool, and my knees aching from jumping out of one too many trees. As with everything in life, if we all repeat the mantra, ‘all things in moderation,’ perhaps we’d all be a little better off.”
Dubious Honors for Nintendo
This is not Nintendo’s first brush with medical fame. In 1990, the NEJM received reports of a similar condition dubbed “Nintenditis,” and other doctors have reported conditions including “Nintendo elbow” and “Ulcerative Nintendinitis” (a lesion in the palm from hitting the joystick repeatedly).
According to the NPD Group, which tracks console figures, the Wii sold 360,000 units last month and 2.5 million since its release. Industry analysts in Japan report that the Wii outsold the PS3 by a ratio of 5-1 in May.
As more weekend warriors pick up the game’s Wiimote controller, it will be interesting to see if more Wii-curring injuries are reported.