Video Game Seizures

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Who is at Risk for Seizures While Playing Video Games?

It has been determined that approximately one in every 130 to 200 people worldwide have varying degrees of epilepsy, while only 3-5 percent of those diagnosed with epilepsy are photosensitive. Photosensitive epilepsy is far more common in children than in adults. Combined with the fact that children and adolescents represent the majority of video game players, that means this group is at the highest risk for experiencing photosensitive seizures.

The typical age at which photosensitive epilepsy emerges is between 9 and 15 years. Female children and adolescents are more affected by photosensitive epilepsy than boys. This type of photosensitivity is thought to be genetic in origin. By the age of 20, the risk for experiencing photosensitive seizures drops off dramatically.

The type of photosensitive seizure experienced while playing video games seems to vary with each person; however, a tonic-clonic seizure seems to be the most common. A tonic-clonic seizure is characterized by clenching of the teeth and a jerking of the arms and upper body while the legs remain stiff. Other symptoms of photosensitive seizures include lightheadedness, memory loss, confusion, and vision problems.

New Guidelines to Prevent Video Game-Induced Seizures in Children

The general consensus among experts is that exposure to computer and video games does not cause epilepsy. Rather, children with undiagnosed epilepsy may also be photosensitive, and may experience their first seizure while playing a video game. Furthermore, some children may experience photosensitive seizures in response to a certain video game, but may not have this response to another video game or stimuli.

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