Games Linked To DVT - Immobility

by Steve Potts

The press has reported cases of teens and young adults experiencing DVTs and even a DVT death after sitting and playing video games for long time periods.

In May of 2011, the BBC reported that Chris Staniforth died from DVT, a condition that often occurs after sitting for extended periods of time. Twenty-year-old Staniforth had a habit of playing Xbox video games for up to 12 hours a day. In the new millennium when playing video games is as standard as wearing t-shirts, for teens and young adults, a parent may wonder if his or her child is at risk for a DVT death.

What is DVT and What is a DVT Death?

The letter DVT stand for “deep vein thrombosis”. According to the Mayo Clinic website, a deep vein thrombosis is a blood clot located in a deep vein and is usually found in the legs. A deep vein thrombosis can dissolve on its own and cause few or no problems, or a DVT can cause permanent damage to a leg’s circulation. In addition, a DVT can travel to the lungs where it blocks the flow of oxygen and cause a DVT death. Once the deep vein thrombosis has traveled to the lungs, the clot is labeled a pulmonary embolism.

Who is at Risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis?

According to health information posted by staff at the Mayo Clinic, a mix of variables puts anyone at risk for developing a DVT. Risk factors for DVT that are significant to teens and young adults include

•Sitting for extended periods of time
•A blood clot disorder

A list of more specific risk factors can be viewed at a Mayo Clinic webpage dedicated to educating the public about DVT and DVT deaths.

Walking and moving the legs use the calf muscles in the legs which in turn stimulate movement in the large veins of the legs. So sitting for long periods of time can cause a back up of blood flow in the leg veins and can contribute to a deep vein thrombosis.

How Does Playing Video Games Put Teens and Young Adults at Risk for DVT?

In January of 2004, the BBC News reported that a 14-year-old boy diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis had been playing video games for an extended time while sitting on top of his legs. The boy was treated with blood thinners for months after release from a British hospital.

In the instance, the BBC reported commentary from Dr. Russell Keenan stating "The fact that Dominic was kneeling down with his feet beneath his bottom without moving for several hours is the most likely cause of the DVT.” In the BBC article, the boy’s family reported that Dominic is a very active child and they were surprised that their child had a DVT. It seems that a single risk factor might be responsible for Dominic’s DVT.

Playing video games is usually done while sitting. As revealed in the risk factor list above, sitting with one’s legs in the same position for hours at a time puts teenagers and young adults at risk for developing a DVT. Also teens and young adults who play video games, instead of engaging in sports or other physical activities, are at risk for obesity, an additional risk factor related to DVTs.

So what can parents do if they are worried about extended video game play as a risk factor for DVT? Obviously taking routine breaks from playing video games and engaging in physical activity can help prevent a DVT or DVT death related to playing Xbox and other video games. Parents can set limits for the number of hours teens play at a time. Parents may also choose to invest in Wii games that require teens and young adults to stand, move and dance while playing video games.

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