Catching a Pokemon a day does not keep the doctor away. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has issued a warning for those who are walking around transfixed with the mobile game sensation “Pokemon Go” — be aware of your surroundings and walk carefully to avoid serious injury.
“We love that these games are bringing children and adults outdoors and encouraging exercise,” Dr. Alan S. Hilibrand,” AAOS spokesperson and a Philadelphia-based orthopedic surgeon, said in a press release. “But we also want everyone to be mindful of their surroundings as they enjoy this activity. Walking while looking at your phone or electronic device can result in sprains, broken bones, and other serious, even fatal, injuries.”
Within days of the game’s release, reports surfaced of players suffering cuts, bruises and sprains while chasing Pokemon creatures. CBS DFW reports a Texas teenager was bitten by a poisonous snake as he searched for a “Pokestop.”
The latest warning is part of the academy’s “Digital Deadwalker” campaign that includes radio and television ads meant to urge smartphone-obsessed pedestrians to look where they’re going and be more mindful of their surroundings.
While the ads are humorous, the dangers of walking around oblivious to other people, traffic, and obstacles that could lead to serious injury are no laughing matter. About four out of 10 people in the U.S. have personally seen a “distracted walking incident,” according to an AAOS study.
The academy also found that a quarter of Americans have been involved these kinds of incidents, while 78 percent of adults believe that distracted walking is a “serious issue.” Interestingly, people don’t necessarily seem willing to own up to their own bad phone-obsessed behavior. The same study found that while 76 percent of Americans believe that “other people” walk while distracted, only 29 percent admitted doing it themselves.
The risk is only magnified as millions of “Pokemon Go” fans take to the streets searching for animated creatures in the game’s augmented-reality world.
For them, the AAOS is offering tips for how to walk and play safely.
The academy urges walkers — and gamers — to keep their focus on the people, objects, and obstacles around them at all times. That’s especially important if the pursuit of Pokemon leads near traffic: stay focused and don’t cross traffic or walk through an intersection blindly while looking for the elusive Mewtwo. Always be vigilant.
The AAOS also offers the kind of no-brainer advice that a lot of the “Pokemon Go”-obsessed might not be keeping in mind: look up, not down, when stepping onto curbs or when walking up stairs or escalators, for instance.
Yes, these are all basic things you probably learned in kindergarten, but “Pokemon Go” frenzy is proving that a lot of pedestrians may need a reminder.