Can a virtual-reality game played on mobile phone really cause physical injuries? Yes, “Pokemon Go” can. The craze for the game is resulting in more and more accidents. Using Google Maps, it creates a world that mirrors the user’s own reality. Gamers use their mobile devices to find and capture virtual Pokemon characters at real-life locations. This requires more focus, resulting in the player becoming distracted from real-world dangers like traffic. The recent incident reported in Los Angeles Times is the case of two California men who fell 50 to 100 feet off a bluff while trying to catch Pokemon. Both these men suffered moderate injuries.
For physicians as well as coders in medical billing companies that have to document Pokemon related injuries there are ICD-10 codes that are relevant to such injuries. Some of these codes are:
- E86.0 – Dehydration
- W18.0 – Fall due to bumping against object
- Y04.0 – Assault by unarmed brawl or fight
- V48.0 – Car driver injured in non-collision transport accident in non-traffic incident
- G56.00 – Carpal tunnel syndrome, unspecified upper limb
- R41.82 – Altered mental status, unspecified
- L55.0 – Sunburn of first degree
- R53.83 – Other fatigue – lack of energy, lethargy, tiredness
- X01.1 – Exposure to smoke in uncontrolled fire, not in building or structure
- T23.0 – Burn of unspecified degree of hand, unspecified site
Ranging from sore feet and sun burnt neck, to sprains, fractures and broken bones a number of health issues were reported within days of the game’s release. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) has issued a warning for those playing this game to stay focused on their surroundings including street and landscapes, thus avoiding serious injury.
As per the association’s recent study, nearly four out of 10 Americans have personally witnessed a distracted walking incident, and just over a quarter, 26 percent have been in an incident themselves. Certain tips offered to help pedestrians and gamers stay injury free include focusing on the people, objects and obstacles in front and around, looking up when walking or approaching on stairs or escalators, and stop crossing into traffic while looking at a phone or any electronic device.