As Interest in Esports Rises, So Will Student Injuries

Today, schools and universities are witnessing a resurgence of technology-related injuries related to esports, where players reportedly spend more than 4-8 hours daily in front of their gaming PC.

Prolonged play without monitoring of health habits can expose young people to physical injuries. A 2018 peer-reviewed study from BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal found that, among collegiate esports players, 56% report eye fatigue, 42% report neck and back pain, 36% and 32% report wrist and hand pain respectively. Despite these high numbers, the journal reports that only 2% of players sought medical attention.

In addition, related player health is of growing concern, involving both unhealthy eating habits and lack of physical activity. It’s not uncommon to see players sit for hours without break, digesting only candy bars and energy drinks. Just recently, USA Today reported on League of Legends star Jian “Uzi” Zihao, who retired at the age of 23. Uzi shared to his 5 million followers that he suffers from obesity, irregular diet, Type-2 diabetes, and a recurring hand injury – all the result of excessive game play.  

Academic institutions can take proactive steps to ensure student esports athletes avoid injury and maintain a balance for a healthier lifestyle going forward. In addition to NASEF resources on healthy gaming, NASEF has partnered with Healthy Player ONE, the first and only software to help prevent and track esports injuries.

To prevent injuries, the software empowers coaches to limit game time, enforce breaks, provide exercises for players during breaks, and use online “check-ins” to document the appearance of any injury-related symptoms. Documenting symptoms early can reduce repetitive strain and eye-related injuries. Most importantly, the software helps schools proactively demonstrate oversight into their esports programs, reducing their exposure to liability lawsuits.

Taking steps today to address the health and welfare of gamers is not merely a choice for academic officials... It’s our responsibility.