Cervical Spine Injury After Virtual Reality Gaming

A Case Report

D. Baur; C. Pfeifle; C. E. Heyde


J Med Case Reports. 2021;15(312) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: We report a patient who fractured the seventh cervical vertebra while playing a virtual reality (VR) game, without any other trauma.

This case report aims to describe the spinal trauma incurred during the use of a VR headset in a video game.

Case Presentation: The Caucasian patient presented with pain and swelling in the lower cervical spine at our clinic after playing a video game involving a combination of shoulder, arm and head movements while wearing a VR headset. Preexisting comorbidities were not present in the 31-year-old male. No history of regular medication use or drug abuse was recorded. After performing a clinical examination and radiological diagnostics, we found a dislocated traumatic fracture of the spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebra. After a soft tissue defect was excluded through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) diagnostics, a conservative therapy regimen with pain therapy and immobilization was started.

After hospitalization, outpatient controls were conducted at 4, 6 and 12 weeks. At 6 weeks after hospitalization, the patient had recovered from the injury without complications.

Conclusions: Rapid movements during VR gaming can lead to injuries of the cervical spine. In addition to rapid movements, the additional weight of the VR headset as well as the decoupling of audiovisual stimuli from the perceived proprioceptive information should be considered. Determining whether this is an isolated incident induced by unknown preexisting factors or whether the trauma mechanism alone can lead to severe spinal trauma needs to be studied further with additional cases.