Pedestrian Inattention Blindness While Playing Pokémon Go as an Emerging Health-Risk Behavior: A Case Report

Background: Cases of trauma resulting from the use of mobile phones while driving motor vehicles have become quite common in recent years. Road injuries incurred by people playing video games on mobile phones (or other media devices) while walking have also become a cause for concern. Pokémon Go has been the world’s most popular game since it was launched in July 2016, with more than 15 million players trying to catch all Pokémon available in the game; however, the case detailed here is the first reported accident in the medical literature caused by a pedestrian distracted by the game while crossing a street. Objective: We aim to provide additional information on the innovative nature of distractions that generate risks in road-users, and to explore the underreporting of pedestrian-motor vehicle collisions due to mobile device usage. Methods: We included in this case report a 25-year-old male who suddenly crossed a road while playing Pokémon Go and was hit by a van, reporting several injuries and being assisted by the Emergency Medical Service of our hospital (Padova, Italy). The patient’s history, the circumstances in which the collision happened, imaging data, and clinical course information were recorded per our hospital’s privacy policy. Results: The patient hit by the van was playing Pokémon Go on his mobile phone while crossing a street, despite red traffic lights, which he did not notice due to of the distraction induced by the game. Conclusions: Mobile videogames that imply movement (ie, walking, running, cycling) to play are an effective way to improve physical activity practice, especially in adolescents and young adults. Nevertheless, cases like the one presented here point out that these games could pose a significant risk to users who play while walking, cycling, or driving in unsafe areas such as city streets, because players become distracted and may ignore surrounding hazards. Comprehensive, multilevel interventions are needed to reduce accidents caused by distraction, and to stress findings on the positive and negative effects of video games, which are becoming a source of public health concern. Health care providers should be aware of their chief role in these possible prevention strategies, based on their direct interactions with road incident victims.
Journal of Medical Internet Research

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