E-sports & health: gamers as athletes

(NBC News) Hospitals are known to partner with professional sports teams to care for their athletes, and now major medical centers are allocating resources for professional video game players as well.

Reid Hill, known in the gamer world as “Reizey,” is with Magic Gaming, Orlando’s professional NBC 2K League.

“Even though it is a video game, it’s still pretty draining physically and mentally,” he says.

Even though players like Reizey spend all day sitting, they’re getting special attention from doctors at Orlando Health.

“They practice for eight to 10 hours a day, and if they don’t have a strong core, both their front and their back, they’re setting themselves up for injuries,” says physician Dr. Todd Sontag.

That includes injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and even problems with their elbows, neck and back.

The popularity of esports has skyrocketed in recent years, and is predicted to reach a global audience of more than 500 million by 2021.

It’s a lot of pressure for young gamers, making mental health care is just as important as physical health care.

“A lot of them don’t know how to deal with the stress,” Dr. Sontag says. “They know if they don’t win, they may be out of a job. This may be their only shot.”

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