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Virtual Reality Users Suffering from Broken Necks and Other Injuries

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VR gaming is rapidly increasing in popularity. Due to the immersive, unique gameplay experience it provides, it’s easy to understand why that’s the case. Since there are aspects of VR gaming that are so different from traditional gaming, there are certain aspects of it that present unfamiliar risks to gamers. Among the biggest risks people face when playing VR games is physical injury due to the fact that players are required to move their body parts the way they want their characters in the game to. One German VR gamer found this out by breaking his neck while playing. According to Doctors, the 31-year-old man made repetitive movements that led to damage in the neck before he felt a part of the bone finally “crack”. He eventually made his way to the hospital once he started feeling a piercing pain in his shoulders. 

X-ray scans displayed that the man had a fracture in his C7 neck vertebrae. The experts at the University of Leipzig Hospital who treated him are of the belief that this is the world’s first documented case of VR-caused stress fracture. The researchers claim that the man’s injuries are more commonly found in marathon runners or soldiers. Even though this is the first recorded case of a VR-caused stress fracture, it likely won’t be the last. VR gaming headsets are becoming more popular by the day. Unfortunately for gamers that play them, so are the injuries that occur as a result of VR gaming. The cause of injuries that occur as a result of VR gaming can range from not having enough playing space to making too many fast, repetitive motions. There are numerous examples of people hurting either themselves or other people while playing VR games, too. For instance, one woman playing a VR game tried to escape an evil character by running and wound up crashing into a wall. Even though she luckily seemed to avoid a serious injury, other VR players may not be as lucky. 

In another example, a gamer playing a VR game called Beat Saber, which is similar to Guitar Hero or Rock band, banged his hand onto a nearby desk. After an audible gasp, he took off his headset to reevaluate the damage, which didn’t appear to be that severe. Those situations demonstrate the importance of making sure that there is plenty of space surrounding the area where gameplay is taking place. Physical injuries aren’t the only health risks presented by VR gaming. Other risks of playing VR games for an extended amount of time include nausea, dizziness, sweating, and loss of balance. People that play VR games for an extended amount of time also run the risk of developing skin irritation as a few gamers have reported. Some players have also reported instances of back pain, chest pain, and wrist pain. While the risk of serious injury is clear when it comes to VR gaming, that hasn’t had an impact on sales.

Even though the Oculus Quest 2 costs $329, research reveals that 12.5 million were sold in 2021, while more than $2 billion was spent on VR-related content. Another aspect of VR headsets that is unclear is whether or not the severity of injuries that are sustained while using them will increase as more headsets are sold. Another issue regarding VR headsets that remains to be seen is if the injuries and risk they present will be capable of causing a long-term negative impact on sales. As discussion about the metaverse continues to develop, the long and short-term ramifications of the use of VR headsets is a topic that is certain to gain more traction. 

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