Prolonged Use of Virtual Reality Can Cause Gorilla Arm Syndrome

shoulder injury
Source: Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata from Pexels

Most seasoned office workers and PC gamers are familiar with how taxing can prolonged sitting while hunched over a computer be on the body.

A quick online search is enough to reveal a huge number of research studies, blog posts, and discussions about computer-related repetitive stress injuries (RSIs), from the turtle neck syndrome to the so-called trigger finger.

Because virtual reality is yet to go mainstream, we still have a lot to discover about its effects on the human body. For example, we know that over three times as many women frequently experience motion sickness in VR than men (22.6% vs. 7.2%), but what about potential issues associated with prolonged use?

Jay Kim, an associate professor at Oregon State University’s Occupational and Biomechanics Research Laboratory, has warned virtual reality users about an injury dubbed gorilla arm, which can be developed by repeatedly sticking your arms forward far away from your body. “That creates shoulder strain that’s called gorilla arm syndrome,” says Kim.

The same repetitive stress injury has been previously observed among people who use mid-level screens or touchscreens for long periods of their time, such as retail workers.

Because VR users typically also hold controllers in their hands (a single Quest 2 controller weighs around 150 grams), it’s possible that gorilla arm syndrome will become an increasingly common problem as the average amount of time spent in VR goes up.

Of course, the manufacturers of VR headsets and accessories won’t let their customers suffer without doing anything about it. Over time, we can expect to see lighter, more ergonomic designs and brand-new technologies, such as brain-machine interfaces, that may one day completely eliminate health-related issues associated with the prolonged use of virtual reality.

VR Source