In an alarming incident, a teenager from Hyderabad was admitted to the Sunshine hospital in the city after suffering from a stroke. Doctors say the 19-year-old had been addicted to the video game PUBG as the result of which his health had been impacted, to the point that the teen developed a stroke. This incident comes as the latest in a string of such stories coming to light, which is leaving doctors and mental health experts increasingly concerned about the role of video games and technology on health.
It all started on August 26 when the second year Bachelors’ student was rushed to the ICU of the private hospital in the city after he had complained of being unable to move his right arm or right leg. Doctors in the emergency room examined him and suspected that despite his age, he was showing signs which corresponded to a brain stroke. Upon further investigation, the doctors at the hospital were able to confirm that he had developed multiple blood clots (thrombi) in the brain, which rendered him unable to move his right arm or leg.
“It is extremely rare to see a stroke of this level in a person this young. However the teen had been leading such an inactive and unhealthy lifestyle. We were told by the parents that he spent at least 8 to 10 hours a day playing PUBG without eating, sleeping, or even drinking water properly. All of these factors combined have led to his condition,” said one hospital source.
Dr K Vinod Kumar, a senior neuro-physician at the hospital told ToI that the boy had lost 3-4 kgs of weight in a month.
A stroke is caused by disruption to the brain’s blood supply and is most commonly caused by a block to the blood vessels which are carrying nourishment and oxygen to the brain. This is called an ischemic stroke. These types of strokes are largely seen in the elderly, as a result of age related changes, however, leading a sedentary lifestyle without the proper diet and exercise can cause people to develop a stroke at much younger ages.
While the teen has made recovery and was discharged on Saturday evening by doctors, the increasing number of children and teens becoming addicted to video games is a cause of concern that doctors want to highlight more.
Seeing the rising trend of video game addiction, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the endemic of videogame addiction a mental health disorder in June 2018. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) it issued at the time listed gaming disorder as an addiction. The ICD states that any individual who prioritises gaming over all other activities in life, despite the consequences of such a lifestyle, should be treated.
The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru has been running its Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) Clinic since 2014 after mental health experts at the hospital took notice of the rising trend of video games and social media addiction. Dr B N Gangadhar, director of NIMHANS, has been vocal about the need for recognising the harmful impact of social media and gaming on young minds.