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February 11, 1983

Hazard of Video Games in Patients With Light-Sensitive Epilepsy

JAMA. 1983;249(6):776-777. doi:10.1001/jama.1983.03330300060036

VIDEO games have become an epidemic form of amusement. Recently, two reports appeared from England of patients with epilepsy in whom playing video games precipitated seizures1,2 (Time, July 19, 1982, p 67). To emphasize the particular hazard of video games for susceptible persons with light-sensitive epilepsy, we herein document the first record, to our knowledge, of a similar case in the United States.

Report of a Case  A 15-year-old boy played video games for one year before his first seizure. He had no medical problems until March 7, 1982. While the boy played an electronic game called "Combat," a friend noted that he acted as if he were in a daze and that his hand was twitching. When he returned home shortly thereafter, his mother noticed that he had lost his glasses, that he was "belligerent for the first time in his life," and that his mentation was slow.