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Physical Therapists Caution Pokémon Go Enthusiasts to Ease into Game-playing

September 1, 2016

Physical Therapists Caution Pokémon Go Enthusiasts to Ease into Game-playing

[Kenosha, WI Aug 2016] –Quickly becoming a global phenomenon, the popular mobile game Pokémon Go has given inactive Americans everywhere a reason to lace up their sneakers, head outside, and leave their recliners collecting dust. But some physical therapists say not so fast. Though applauding game adopters for their renewed – or even first-time – interest in being physically active, physical therapists urge players to take it slow.
The mobile-app based game requires players to go out into the real world on foot to find and capture virtual Pokémon characters. A Slant Marketing survey found that 57% of players use the game between one and three hours a day, on average; and 14% say they play for more than three hours a day. For formerly inactive people, that ramp up of activity could prove to be too quick.
Physical therapists recommend scheduling a PT evaluation or speaking with a physician before grabbing a mobile phone and heading out to search for Pokémon at the local park. In addition to the long distances covered, inactive Pokémon Go hunters may encounter challenges they are unaccustomed to such as stairs, hills and uneven terrain. Each of these factors can potentially spell trouble for exercise first-timers.
According to physical therapists, some of the risks include muscle soreness and strains, stress fractures and even neck strain from peering down at a smart phone screen. These injuries don’t even account for those incurred by falling, tripping, walking into objects, scraping appendages on tree limbs, and teetering on ledges. By scheduling a consult with a PT, Pokémon Go players can learn how to slowly increase activity levels and how best to avoid injuries that ultimately could sideline them from participating in the hot new leisure activity.
Games that encourage exercise are hardly new. Remember when Nintendo’s Wii saddled up next to TV cable boxes across the country in 2006? The home video game console gained appeal for its fitness component, however, the physical activity achieved on a Wii doesn’t hold a candle to the activity levels prompted by Pokémon Go. In fact, the Pokémon Go app is helping many adults reach the CDC’s minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, each week.
Physical therapists applaud the new obsession for encouraging people to become more physically active and genuinely feel the benefits outweigh the risks. They’re interested to see if Pokémon Go will be the beginning of a trend of activity-boosting mobile games.
About The Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association Founded in 1956, the Private Practice Section of the American Physical Therapy Association champions the success of physical therapist-owned businesses. Our members are leaders and innovators in the health care system. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) represents more than 85,000 physical therapists, physical therapist assistants and students of physical therapy nationwide. For more information, please visit www.ppsapta.org.