Rothman Orthopaedics, Cleveland Clinic & more: Orthopedic partnerships growing in $1B esports industry

Alan Condon -   Print  |

A growing number of physicians are studying for orthopedic and overuse injuries in esports players, which recent data has shown them to be highly susceptible to.

In a 2019 study in the British Medical Journal, esports players were found to be just as susceptible to overuse injuries as players of traditional sports.

Researchers found that esports players frequently reported physical injuries, including neck pain, back pain as well as hand and wrist pain. 

However, of the 65 esports players surveyed across nine universities in the U.S. and Canada, only 2 percent sought medical attention. Players commonly spend three to eight hours per day on their consoles and eight to 10 hours a day during competitions.

Esports players experience similar upper extremity injuries to those of traditional athletes and in extreme cases, total body deconditioning, Vonda Wright, MD, chief of Northside Hospital Sports Medicine, told Becker's Spine Review. 

"Sitting in a chair for long hours leads to low back pain, weak cores, weak butts. We can be completely and totally deconditioned," Dr. Wright said. "Six elite South Korean gamers had what was described as lung collapse. I think what happened was they sat in one place so long that they got blood clots in their legs, drew pulmonary embolisms into their lungs and their lungs collapsed."

In the last year, several orthopedic institutions, including Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and Rothman Orthopaedic Institute in Philadelphia, established partnerships in the esports industry, which is anticipated to reach $1.8 billion by 2022, according to a market report from Newzoo.

In January, Rothman Orthopaedics teamed with esports network Nerd Street Gamers to promote healthy habits for gamers and became the official team physician for the Philadelphia Fusion — the city's first professional esports team.

CCSH became the medical provider for Akron Esports at the University of Akron in Ohio in an initiative that provides research data to medical professional and students with specialized care.

Northside Hospital also partnered with Skillshot Media last year to enhance medical research in the esports industry. 

Led by Dr. Wright, the hospital's esports program, focuses on preventative injury measures and educating players on nutrition, performance food and overall physical health.

The program also provides pre-performance screenings and a team or league physician for tournaments, where some prize pools are reported to be more than $30 million.

As the esports industry continues to develop, expect a whole new area of orthopedic care and partnerships to grow with it.

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