Doctors call for warning on vibrating game controllers

Doctors call for warning on vibrating game controllers

Vibrating handheld game controllers should carry health warnings because they can cause damage to hands, British doctors said Friday.

The doctors cited the case of a 15-year-old boy who spent up to seven hours a day playing games on a Sony PlayStation suffered from pain and swelling in his hands, symptoms of hand-arm vibration syndrome, according to the doctors in a letter to the editor of the British Medical Journal.

The hand-arm vibration syndrome, caused by prolonged use of industrial tools, was classified as an industrial disease in 1985 and sufferers qualify for compensation and disability benefits, according to the doctors. The boy particularly liked a racing game where the controller vibrated when the car came off road, the doctors, of the Royal Liverpool Children's Hospital in Liverpool, England, wrote.

"We believe that, with increasing numbers of children playing these devices, there should be consideration for statutory health warnings to advise users and parents," the doctors wrote.

Playing seven hours a day is excessive and exceeds the console maker's recommendation, the doctors wrote, but contend that the case they have observed is likely not an isolated one. They call on pediatricians encountering effects of vibrating controllers to report them.

Sony Computer Entertainment is investigating the report, said Bernard Groeneveld, product manager PlayStation at Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment BV, which sells PlayStation products in Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg (Benelux).

"We want to know if this happens more often. If so, we will see what we can do about it and placing a sticker could be an option," he said.

PlayStation games already carry warnings. Users are advised to take a 15-minute break after an hour of playing, to play in a well-lit room and not to play when tired, among other things. The instruction manual supplied with the games also warn users with epileptic conditions to take special care.

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