banner

News

Jun 13, 2023

Esports Athlete Injury Prevention and Physical Therapy

By Vincent Brinas, PT, DPT, Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center

Electronic competitive gaming (esports) is a popular form of sport involving electronic systems (PC or console) and a human-computer interface. Games such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Valorant and DOTA 2 have a global popularity with millions of gamers playing daily. Emerging are professional and competitive gamers who are considered top-tier in their respective ranks and compete seasonally in teams for upwards of millions of dollars. Professional leagues have sponsorships, training facilities and head coaches with the International Olympic Committee recognizing esports in 2017 with a speculative inclusion in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. In the USA, esports players have been recognized as professional athletes since 2013 with universities across the country setting up varsity esports programs under the National Association of Collegiate Esports.

As athletes, players are involved with games that involve high cognitive demand and functional integration often performing more keystrokes per minute than the average gamer. Teams spend countless hours practicing, developing strategy and reviewing footage in order to improve and compete at an elite level. The intensity of esports can lead to athletes developing musculoskeletal injuries that can affect their dexterity in addition to emotional or psycho-social factors. Other concerns that can negatively impact players are the sedentary nature of the activity, symptoms relating to excessive screen use or poor sleep health and the ergonomics of their desk and PC station especially in relation to posture.

This emerging field requires a dedicated interdisciplinary team to ensure the health and wellness of esports athletes. Physical therapy and rehabilitation can be an essential piece to that team to address injury prevention, symptom management, and performance considerations through emphasis on physical exercise, postural education and quality sleep and screen health. This article covers common conditions esports athletes may experience and how physical therapy can help alongside a dedicated medical team.

Overview of Common Injuries and Conditions:

Esports medicine is an emerging field that requires extensive research and advocacy from multiple disciplines: sports medicine/primary care, esports coaches, athletic trainers, physical/occupational therapists, sports psychiatry/psychology, nutritionists/dieticians and optometrists/ophthalmologists. There is currently no standardized esports training or return to play guidelines that address the health, injury prevention and optimal training plan for these athletes. This is an upward trend that has significant influence not only within esports, but the gaming community as a whole.

If you are currently experiencing any of the stated conditions, please contact your physician for further medical management or to determine if you could benefit from a physical therapy evaluation.

Vincent Brinas, PT, DPT, is a Doctor of Physical Therapy at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center. He primarily treats patients with vestibular disorders, concussions and runners with running-related injuries. He completed his bachelor's degree in health sciences and his doctorate in physical therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia in 2016. He received his certificate of completion in vestibular rehabilitation at Emory in 2022. Vincent is an avid recreational runner, participating in races throughout the country such as the Norvo Nordisk New Jersey Marathon, Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb NYC and the Red Bull 400. Outside of physical therapy, he enjoys hiking on the West Coast, board games such as Scythe and PC gaming such as DOTA 2 where he is a Level 30 Grandmaster Undying player.

The experienced and compassionate staff at Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center Rehabilitation centers, with locations in West Orange and Livingston, offers adults and children the specialized care they need to resume an active life after surgery, injury or illness. Staff is committed to providing patients with the most advanced services in a safe, caring and soothing environment. For high-risk patients who are unable to visit in person, telehealth is an option. Patients do not need a prescription for physical therapy services.

For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call 973-322-7500.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Citations

McGee C, Hwu M, Nicholson LL, Ho KKN. More Than a Game: Musculoskeletal Injuries and a Key Role for the Physical Therapist in Esports. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Sep;51(9):415-417. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2021.0109. PMID: 34465141.

DiFrancisco-Donoghue J, Balentine J, Schmidt G, et al Managing the health of the eSport athlete: an integrated health management model BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2019;5:e000467. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000467

Franks, R. Robert DO; King, Dominic DO; Bodine, Warren DO; Chisari, Emanuele MD; Heller, Alan ATC; Jamal, Faraz IV MS; Luksch, John DO; Quinn, Kate DO; Singh, Raunak DO; Solomon, Mary DO. AOASM Position Statement on Esports, Active Video Gaming, and the Role of the Sports Medicine Physician. Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 32(3):p e221-e229, May 2022. | DOI: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000001034

Joanne DiFrancisco-Donoghue, William G. Werner, Peter C. Douris, Hallie Zwibel, Esports players, got muscle? Competitive video game players’ physical activity, body fat, bone mineral content, and muscle mass in comparison to matched controls, Journal of Sport and Health Science, Volume 11, Issue 6, 2022, Pages 725-730, ISSN 2095-2546, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jshs.2020.07.006

Rossoni A, Vecchiato M, Brugin E, Tranchita E, Adami PE, Bartesaghi M, Cavarretta E, Palermi S. The eSports Medicine: Pre-Participation Screening and Injuries Management-An Update. Sports (Basel). 2023 Feb 1;11(2):34. doi: 10.3390/sports11020034. PMID: 36828319; PMCID: PMC9966106.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy for the Esports Athlete: Injury Prevention and Performance Considerations to Maintain Optimal Health and Gameplay Vincent Brinas, PT, DPT, Vincent Brinas, PT, DPT, Share This
SHARE