A single dose of psychological therapy, including a stint playing the classic video game, might ward off symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers found.
Researchers also found those who had played Tetris had fewer intrusive memories of the trauma in total over the week immediately following the accident than those who did not.
Traumatic events can cause people to experience "intrusive memories"-distressing recollections that occur without warning, summoning the sights, sounds and feelings connected to the painful incident".
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"Our hypothesis was that after a trauma, patients would have fewer intrusive memories if they got to play Tetris as part of a short behavioural intervention while waiting in the hospital Emergency Department", said Emily Holmes, professor of psychology at Karolinska Institutet.
Holmes and her colleagues say this limited test was a proof-of-concept and that future studies could look at the longer-term effects on flashbacks as well as the effects of the patients playing for longer or having multiple sessions with the game. The research was conducted by scientists on 71 vehicle crash victims as they waited for their treatment at the hospital's accident and emergency department. While most people do not develop PTSD after trauma, one of the core clinical symptoms in those who do involves recurrent and intrusive memories, or flashbacks.
The participants were randomly assigned to either the "Tetris" group or the control group.
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In the more recent study, researchers suggest that any visual spatial task-like drawing, or playing Candy Crush-can provide helpful interventions for trauma victims.
Tetris is one of the most addictive video games ever, but now scientist have found it could help stop PTSD flashbacks. Within six hours of the viewing period, subjects were asked to either play Tetris, answer trivia, or do nothing at all. The rest were asked to recall the traumatic crash, and then play a 20-minute game of Tetris.
Tetris may help people suffering with PTSD. "Tetris also requires imagination and vision".
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Holmes has just published a study which found that tapping into a patient's visual memory is a good method of starting to treat the psychological impact of traumatic events and that Tetris is a good way to do this.